Graphic Design in Iran

About a week ago my colleague asked me what the difference was between graphic design in Iran and the United States…

I responded:

“Actually, not a big difference. If the U.S. has beautiful actress/handsome actor shown on a billboard who is enjoying a bottle of water, there is an image of a Persepolis soldier being used for the same concept in Iran. Both are trying to show their identity.”

I moved to the United State 6 years ago and am still struggling with language and so it’s not been easy to express myself in a way I want to. But while Farsi is my first language, I find good deign is a language of its own.

Even though the relationship between Iran and Western countries, especially United State, hasn’t been great, one of the most sensitive parts in studying graphic design is our relationship with the graphic design of the West. Our graphic culture has constantly looked to the West as an example, it has been shown in all aspects of graphic design in Iran, and this influence hasn’t been just in graphic design, you can see the foot print of the West in all kinds of art in Iran, such as music, fashion and Fine Arts.

Iran is a country in which its people are tied with its art and design; walls are decorated with tiles and floors are covered with carpets. Every shape and color in the carpets have been designed to represent something in our life: a flower, an animal or even a special event such as wedding, birth or death. Some carpets have been made based on a plans which have been designed by a designer and some like “Gabeh”, have been improvised based on daily events. I believe living and seeing these extraordinary arts and designs make them ordinary in our eyes and this could be on of the reasons that Western graphic design has been imitated by Iranian designers for decades.

In the modern age, where the internet breaks the walls between countries, we expect to see more influence of West in Iranian design but what we see instead is the revolution of getting back to our roots while still being able to communicate with the world. Artist and designers of all kinds, such as fashion, furniture, jewelry and of course graphic design, try to use their identity in their works while still being able to send their message to people who have no knowledge of the Iranian culture. Some believe that the identity in graphic design is only applicable to cultural graphics, because graphics in the area of information and publicity take form based on the content, information, message and relationship with the audience. Communication requirements leave no space for identity, but the current graphic designers in Iran prove it is wrong.

The influence of the West has been happening for decades and having thousands of years of history in art and design, helped Iranian graphic designers be able to communicate the rest of the words while having their identity in their works.