Interview with Ghobad Shiva

Shiva graduated in 1966 from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Tehran. He then spent several years acquiring practical experience in graphic art before earning a master’s degree from Pratt University, New York City, in 1980. Then after creating original works over several decades, he achieved a graphic artist with an Iranian flavor, which indeed prompted museums and collectors across the world to add his works to their collections.

His secondary activities included the establishment of graphic art sections for the Iranian radio and TV in 1968 and for Soroush Publisher in 1971. He was also one of the co-founders of the Iranian graphic designer society “IGDS“, an artist advisor and jury member of the Iranian graphic art Biennal.

He has also been teaching in eminent art faculties in Tehran since 1976.

All of his schooling years and professional career, he has held exhibitions of his paintings, photographers and, particularly, graphic works in Iran and abroad, notably in England, France, and United States. His works have been repeatedly selected and reproduced in international graphic art periodicals and specialized books.

He is a member of the Society of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) and is presently busy directing his own institution, offering artistic management and advisory services, as well as designing environmental projects and exhibition areas. The referenced book comprises a selection of posters he has created in different decades.

ZH: What was your motivation to select graphic design among many other disciplines?

My motivation to select this major was an alive and dynamic character of it in relation to art, culture, and people of any land. The art of graphic has a valuable place among people not on the walls of galleries, node and without any frame to turn a city into a dynamic gallery with a rich symphony of colors to illuminate subtlety.

ZH: What do you like the most about Graphic design?

It’s an art in close relationship with all the classes of any society with no foolish.

ZH: Your unique technique and design elements have designated you from many other known graphic designers, what is your source of inspiration?

I would never Imprisonment by any techniques and the unity of my work is always because of similar vision and use of ideas especially in the format of colors which presents the most beautiful to my eyes and I believe this vision is obvious in eastern visual colure and among Iranians. My inspiration source is taste, vision and the poetical art and culture of Iranians.

ZH: As one of the most influential contemporary graphic designers, how do you define the meaning of “design” comparing the past with current date?

Design means an approach to a logical relationship and its way of translation into different cultures, now or in the past. In any condition and at any time the key to success for any artwork is the satisfaction of people and culture of that land.

ZH: Which of your artworks is your most favorite one and why?

I have to ask this question from people to see which work of mine was and is their favorite. We know that the duty of any poster is to inform people about a happening, rather, cultural, art or operational which after the expiration date of those happening the duty of the poster will end. If these posters transfer to citizen’s homes and get taken care of then it is just because of the artistic and cultural values of them. This happened to most of my posters which I’m very glad about it. The fact that my posters are living in people’s homes is because I have been using Eastern and Iranian aesthetic elements more compared to Western aesthetics.

ZH: What does design mean to yourself?

The design is a visual language that designer can speak with people and address their needs. In general, we can tell that designer is a problem solver for visual matters.

ZH: Graphic design in today’s Iran is more logical or artistic and how do you see its location in the world.

One of the main concerns for me since I paid attention to this field was to achieve a description of Graphic with Iranian rich culture. Same as, for example, Polish or Japanese graphic design exist with their characteristics, graphics with Iranian characteristics has to present to this world too and still I’m walking on this stage toward this matter.

ZH: And your advice to the new generation of passionate designers?

Our new generation knows that all previous and current generation of graphic designers has been and are active, very conscious and influential in this field. From professor Mr. Houshang Kazemi, Professor Mahmoud Javadipour, Sadegh Bbarirani, dear Zarin Kelk and Morteza Momayez and Abbas Kiarostami and other influential artists who had and still have a deep impact on our today’s graphic.
Now this integrity is getting transferred to the new generation and I wish this generation do not insist only on practicality of graphic design but be careful with the cultural and artistic growth of the old tree of our county’s culture and present the graphic of Iran in its best way and more influential to world’s people and especially our own people.


In collaboration by ZH media and Pouryousef Gallery

Photo by Ladan Rezaeian