Be my companion...
Political graphic design of Kourosh Shishehgaran
The raised excitements usually move the artists too and each with certain ability joins the public and adapts to their demands. Obviously, graphic design, as the most up-to-date and concrete branch of the plastic arts and because of its expressive quality, plays a major role in manifesting the frenzy of revolutions in the world. Among created works, some only resemble historical documents with few as significant works. Those however that possess the characteristics of successful artworks are marked as effective and lasting graphic works of that period.
posters in Iran of those days. Since then, in any mention of political or graphic posters Shishehgaran's posters are an inseparable part.
Shishehgaran began his political graphic design activities prior to the revolution.
"My first graphic designs with political subjects date back to 1975. I designed a poster for peace in Lebanon that was then involved with the civil war. As an Iranian artist I intended to be present in important world issues so in that poster I had a symbolic look at peace that was emerging in Lebanon back then. I regarded that peace with skepticism and the future proved that I was right in my perception. The SAVAK (Iranian intelligence service) interrogated me that year on my intention and purposes. Later, I designed the poster 'For Today' whose subject was on people's objection to the pre-revolution killings. Then I designed the poster 'Shahreza Street' and Bobby Sands. I was determined to pursue my work despite the hardships."
Obviously, an artist with such attitude and aspirations will join in and go along with people in such an extraordinary social movement.
"I felt since all people were involved in shaping a huge social movement such as the revolution that I too as an artist had to play my role. I felt obliged and responsible," he says.
The characteristics of Shishehgaran's works and his technique in painting quickly brought his posters to print. In addition, in the fast changing currents of the revolution and control over printing shops, he also speeded his work.
"In the midst of the revolution where everything was rapidly changing I also accelerated my work. I designed and executed some of the posters overnight yet I was adamant not to compromise the quality. I had many problems too for printing and printed many of them on silk screen myself. I asked for help from my students and put up the posters."
Shishehgaran's posters despite hasty design and print enjoyed an optimal quality that resulted from his knowledge of design and high understanding of using his ability in graphics and they received great public attention in Iran and by foreigners who came to Iran as journalists and reporters.
"At that time, the works were well welcomed by the public. I had supporters who demanded those works. Gradually, I changed the printing technique to offset printing to produce more copies so more people could obtain them. Many of the foreign journalists who came to Iran for reports took my posters with them. Consequently, they were distributed world wide and exhibitions were held several times.
In Iran too, the posters were put up in the streets and visible everywhere. The circulation of some posters reached five thousands. With the public's welcome of my posters I offered them for sale and with the money I earned from the sales I printed my next posters. I remember the night I traveled to Masouleh. Many of them were put up on in the home of a Masouleh resident. The production and distribution of my posters and their penetration everywhere in Iran and many other parts of the world encouraged me to design and produce more posters. At the same time my two brothers joined me and together with some of my friends and students in my painting classes helped me in producing the posters. I was about thirty years old then. I believed and still do that one can be an artist and participate in his own and other world country events. My works prove this belief. I believe that it is a shame to deprive the artist of this right."
Shishehgaran's disposition and perception in the course of the eight year Iran-Iraq war prompted him to move and get in action with his ability to design political posters. He used his artistic might as a weapon.
"In the Iraqi attack on Iran and during the war when I saw the Iraqi bombardments of Tehran and other cities that killed my fellow citizens, I too like others could not stay calm and just continue my usual work as a mere artist. I did many designs back then that reveal the spirit and atmosphere of those days. I mean I cannot and could not remain indifferent. My weapon and means of defense or attacking the aggressor is the works created on influence by the events at a particular time. Among the artworks that are products of a political or social occurrence in a certain period, those whose artistic aspects are strong become lasting. It is through all those works that the circumstances and conditions of that period in time can be discovered."