Unity Vol. 1.
‘I think you should do it. As an artist, you should be vocal, particularly regarding cases that are worth it.’
Tasmar, Comic Artist and Ilustrator
Unity Vol. 1 is a solidarity movement and incentive created in response to the destruction of the Moria Refugee Camp, which hosted 13,000 refugees in Lesvos, Greece, until it burned down on September 9th, leaving all those people homeless. 160 Greek creators came together to create a “unique, genre-transcending album” of 160 songs. This collaborative work is intended to raise funds for to support the refugees at Lesvos, in accordance with the official guidelines of Attica Human Support.
Tasmar, as he is professionally knowns, is a comic artist and illustrator who also offered his talents to the project, and agreed to be interviewed about his contribution. He was initially supposed to contribute a design for the album cover of Unity Vol. 1, but the organising team soon suggested that his artwork should be a limited edition print, instead. It will now be received by anyone who supports Unity Vol. 1 on their Bandcamp website. When asked why he limited himself to a single-page illustration, Tasmar explained that “[t]ime was of the essence. I would have loved to make a comic, but it was not about me.”
Tasmar answered the call to action from Unity, he says, immediately and without any deliberation. “I do not make anything out of this,” he tells me with a broad smile. “Even the limited edition t-shirts or a print of mine for myself, I have supported Unity to receive them. This is not about being recognised or rewarded, but focusing on a problem that needs immediate attention.”
Tasmar does not shy from recruiting his artwork for a political cause he believes in and invites other creators and artists to do so - if they can afford it. “Never give your work for free. Not one sketch. But if it is for causes like that, do not think about it. Do it as many times as you can.” For Tasmar, comics cannot escape being politically vocal about a cause. The comics medium is today an immediate and interactive form of communication, providing creators with the opportunity to stir the thoughts and feelings of their audience. Comics, and more generally, art, are able to provoke empathetic responses and invite their audience to see things from a broader perspective.
"That is why we should not avoid being silent about crucial issues” Tasmar says. “The impact of Unity Vol. 1 could appear short-term, but no one can deny it. And I would like to create, or see others create a short comics anthology for Unity Vol. 2, when it happens,’ he concludes, alluding bittersweetly to the great fundraising success of Unity Vol 1., but also to the dire need for more such initiatives to exist.
Comics, like any art form, have always been a part of activism and protest, Not only because it is a tangible, purchasable commodity which can commemorate and fundraise, but because it can encapsulate important perspectives as to why activism and protests are required. This is what Tasmar expresses, through his words, through his work, and through his immediate willingness to contribute to causes for those in need.
Following Tasmar’s example, many artists and illustrators depicted their vision for Unity with one-page illustrations, sharing the mentality of being vocal, direct and stark about addressing a problem. This solidarity in means of art and dissemination has bolstered the effort of Unity, bringing a volume of new supporters from all those creators.
Unity was a success as a social solidarity initiative and an artists (comics or not) activism movement, by bringing together the audience and raising the funds to support.
10,000 of the refugees have now been moved to a new camp, but they still living in dire conditions. If you would like to make a donation to help re-home the refugees, and provide them with the essentials which they badly need, you can do so here. Even a small donation can make a big difference, Tasmar’s work can be viewed on the movement's Bandcamp website, where Unity Vol.1 can also be streamed.