Saed Meshki: It's been quite some time since we last heard from the energetic and contributing Ali Khorshidpour. Quite especially after a period of cultural works including book cover design.
Ali Khorshidpour: The truth is I have not produced any newly developed cultural work for the past 7-8 years except for a few projects. The reason is that in 1997 I met a group of architects therefore have been quite occupied with extensive environmental projects, which leave me no time to generate other works.
As a result, my cultural work has shifted to another area of graphic design. Given that book cover design is primarily exposed to the public in bookstore windows and posters are distributed throughout the city in various locations, hence the graphic designer's creations entail immediate exposure in expanded public arenas. Contrary to most, not all graphic designers are given such a grand advantage.
In recent years, I have produced a certain class of works, which are solely displayed and viewed in distinct places. Actually, considering the substantial load of projects, I've been quite consumed but in a separate graphical discipline which has seldom received attention by society - more precisely, designing signage for architectural plans for general public use.
An example is the signage for the new Iranian National Library building whereas I had specific qualities in mind. In particular, the color was used with dual purposes - as a guiding code to identity different sections throughout the library, and as an element to bring forth vividness (by adding color) to space since the interior had a natural aura. For the walls, bronze metal was embodied to fabricate harmony by dint of brick shading for the construction's façade to release an antique and graceful appeal.
Regarding my previous cultural works, on occasion, I would face differences of opinion with some of my clients. What's more, if clients were able to acquire much less expensive designs alongside greater control, most often they would seek that proposal. When designing book covers, I always aimed to generate originality and utilize my personal resources and the publisher's amenities in designing uniform jackets for book series.
During the collaboration process with publishers, I perpetually intended to exercise my own inclination in the work with regard to personal experience but occasionally it did not coincide with the publisher's vision therefore we were incapable in reaching a common ground. However, I was not willing to compromise my standards of aesthetics beyond a certain limit.
SM: Tell us about your personal standards and styles.
AK: In addition to being a cultural product, a book is also a commodity whereas investments are made. It has to draw customers, sell and make a return of investment for the publisher. This perspective is consists as an economic commodity. Publishers rightfully aspire to attract customers by the book cover. From my understanding, this is the designer's duty (to create an engaging visual) but at times the publisher expects to also input their ideas, which from a designer's standpoint may be substandard thus triggering a major clash with the designer's original creative forethoughts.
Graphic design work involves three aspects of the client, the designer and the target audience. All must agree with one another and attain proper ground. If the client does not bring forth this specific condition, the designer alone is unable to execute an ideal job. The outcome may suit the designer's former ambitions but without the client as supportive backbone, the work will most probably not receive the intended wide distribution for its defined audience and society.
SM: In the years you've worked with architects have you encountered such problems?
AK No because the job plan is defined. If we encounter disputes along the way, it will be resolved through discussion. Since the day I started working in the field of graphic design, considering my commitments to this profession, I've always kept in mind that as a graphic designer whom plays a significant role in the cultural aspect of the country, I have to perform my duty in a proper manner, leave a positive impression and at all times, be of adequate use.
SM: At one point you illustrated children's books.
AK The books I was fortunate to illustrate were during my student years. They were of the first professional orders I received. The first one I illustrated was for Kanoon (Center for Intellectual Training of Children and Youth). Later on, I worked on a number of other children's books from an assortment of private publishing companies, which happened to redirect my field of work. Not by personal choice, but through former relations, various publishers approached me for diverse book genres, and in soon time, I began working with them.
SM: Is there any specific issue or matter concerning your work that you like to express?
AK Some believe and have repetitively expressed that my work has the tendency to be minimal. Even if so, it's neither intentional nor have I deliberately asked for this distinct change of direction. It has occurred through a natural process.
Since the beginning of my professional years, I came to realize that every visual element encompasses logic, and should not be used without reason and validity.
Visual elements are similar to words in a language that reflect a certain meaning, tone of voice and ability to create a special sense; thus, they must be selected and applied with precision.
Parallel to written text or oral express of subjects, we aim to use clarity in the word selection process in order to transparently convey the actual meaning. We even alter the tone of voice according to the subject matter. The same applies in visual work. In actuality, this is true for all communicative methods.
It is for this precise perception that I have strived to be meticulous in determining visual elements and avoiding unnecessary factors. This process has led to minimal usage of elements in my work. Yet, on the other hand, I have always stayed clear of formalism and have never aspired for my work to be solely beautiful.