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 for selecting a graphic design from among many other disciplines?

My motivation for selecting this major was a lively and dynamic character concerning the art, culture, and people of any country. Graphic art has a precious place in people not on gallery walls, knot and without any frame to transform 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.

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

I will never be imprisoned by any technique, and the unity of my work is always due to the same vision and the use of ideas, especially in the form of colors which offer me the most beautiful, and I believe that this vision is in the visual color of the Orient and It exists among the Iranians. My inspiration is the taste, insight and poetic art, and culture of Iranians.

ZH: As one of the most influential contemporary graphic designers, how do you define the meaning of “design” by comparing the past to the present day?

Design means an approach to a logical relationship and its way of translation into different cultures, now or in the past. In all situations and at all times, the key to the success of any work of art is to satisfy the people and culture of a land.

ZH: What do you think is your most influential design?

I have to ask this question from people to see which work of mine was and is their favorite. We know that any poster has to inform people about an event, rather cultural, artistic, or operational, which, after the expiration date of those who pass, the duty of the poster will end. If these posters are taken to citizens’ homes and taken care of, it is simply because of artistic and cultural values. This has happened to most of my posters and I’m very happy with it. The fact that my posters live in people’s homes is because I use more Eastern and Iranian aesthetic elements than Western aesthetic.

ZH: What does design mean to yourself?

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

ZH: How do you see the position of graphic design in Iran in the world today?

Making a description of a graphic with a rich Iranian culture was one of my main concerns. For example, Polish or Japanese graphic design exist with their characteristics, graphics with Iranian characteristics must also be presented to this world, and I always walk on this stage towards this question.

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 not only to insist on the practicality of graphics, but pay attention to the cultural and artistic growth of the old culture tree of our country, and present the way most influential.


In collaboration with ZH media and Pouryousef Gallery

Photo by Ladan Rezaeian