Neshan Magazine-1-Winter 2003
The first Iranian graphic artworks were printed around 200 years ago along with the first Iranian newspapers. If we take illustration as the starting point and not consider print an issue, illustration and book illumination date back to century's age. Thus, to seek the Identity of Iranian graphic design, we should look back and see how our designers deal with it.
The new wave of graphic design in Iran, however, was formed in the 1960s.The first Iranian graphic designers and illustrators paid special attention to the legacy of their predecessors. The succeeding generations still took notice of carpet and tile designs as well as that of the art of the Islamic era in the subsequent decades and used them as materials in their works.
Hence, the present-day generations of the Iranian designers have always sought their cultural and Iranian Identity. Generally speaking, the present society's cultural and artistic state lacks solid continuity, which could result in a prospect for an Iranian school. Much of our cultural product, when scrutinized, lacks essential authenticity and depth. They seem more like superficial collages forged by the abuse of traditional Iranian motives.
We should bear in mind that, unlike countries such as Japan and Poland, Iran has never enjoyed continuous artistic and cultural movements followed by successive generations, and political turbulences have always caused long-term halts in such activities. On the other hand, the Iranian arts have always been hidden from the eyes of the ordinary people and kept in the courts and high society, rarely exposed to the public. This has always caused people and ordinary artist's a creative blockade and deprived them of continuity in their artistic efforts. The outcome of such interruptions and restrictions could clearly be seen in book illumination, which was a common popular art. The lack of technique in such designs is clearly noticeable and the dreadful effects of such interruptions can be better seen in the works of the new generation. For Instance, Persian calligraphy, which used to be a common art among earlier generations and its technical
Details were known to the literate, is now being almost Forgotten.
Hence, young designers who intend to access associated information have difficulty in research, because the cultural
And artistic information of the past is not conveyed from one generation to the next. You can refer to the products of some new designers, for example, and see how they present the worst and most illegible designs in their typographies.
The redeeming factor is that such erratic trials and errors date back to as few as four decades. More realistic expectations will help us look forward to a more constructive and promising future.
2. Farshid Mesghali
While style and identity are noticeable in the works of a small number of our graphic designers, and although there are some strong and valuable pieces in the background history of Iran's graphic arts, yet an item known as identity is hardly found in the current contemporary art of graphic design in Iran. Graphic design is hardly recognizable.
Our contemporary graphic design will have an identity only when it succeeds to reflect the contents of our modern day society. It has not come to this point yet, or perhaps it cannot do so, for our designers neither have dynamic thoughts nor do they have the appropriate technical knowledge
Today our society is in crisis in every extent and it is not just graphic design that is to be blamed or restrained. Perhaps graphic design is a good mirror to reflect this crisis.
The selection of several works by a number of our graphic designers in some magazines and international graphic exhibitions does not represent the quality of our graphic designer's works. The quality and identity of our contemporary graphic design is the some of the works of all our designers and at this point in time, something is wrong with the artworks. The lack of identity has caused a crisis. True identity requires a sound and rational basis for a right and logical effort and quest. Are such conditions available in our present day society?
It takes time to create an ideal situation and any good Iranian designer could be a part that can facilitate such a process in the future.
Identity is a complicated issue, particularly in visual arts, for contrary to the initial impression, few of its definitions are clear and agreed by all. On the other hand, raising such questions indicates that a crisis exists in its measurements and definitions, as identity should generally be a matter of course. We can refer to nationality, family origins, etc. whether we are Iranians or not, for example. But is there really a precise definition of identity accepted by every one in the visual arts? Which work is exactly Iranian in particular, which is not or it is half-Iranian? Still, if there is a definition, to which era does it belong? I personally do not believe in any predetermined or prescriptive compulsion.
It is inferred from discussions concerning identity that being modern is in contrast with having identity or that it is absolutely a foreign and unfamiliar concept. I belive that modernism is a relative concept. Something might be modern but not complete as a whole. Such discussions usually seem incomprehensible and could not be considered as right basis for judgment and conclusion.
On the other hand, graphics is a means of communication and consumption and it does not claim to materialize any feature of cultural identity. It stems from the cultural aspect of the consumer society, so why graphic design should be intensely questioned? Why do we insist so seriously on determining the role of identity in graphic design? Why not spend our positive energy on designing more instead?