Saman Torabi is an Iranian cartoonist. He was born in 1981 in Tehran, Iran. He completed his master’s in Restoration of Monuments from Isfahan Art University.
How do you describe yourself?
I was born in Tehran in 1981. As I remember in my childhood I spent more time drawing and painting more than anything else. When I was approximately 10 years old I saw the cartoon and caricature magazines for the first time and I found that I was born to do this art. I graduated from the University of art in Iran and do cartoons and caricature as a freelance artist.
How and where did you learn to draw?
As I said before I drew painting in my childhood and I was always encouraged at school for my good paintings and it made me feel great. After that, I met the artists through the history of art books and magazines and tried to draw their masterpieces to learn more drawing techniques. Honestly, I should say I’m a self-taught artist.
Who are the favorite cartoonists from your country?
In Iran, very creative and talented cartoonists are working from various generations, but I prefer the young cartoonists because they are more up to date and have stronger messages and most of them are famous cartoonists around the world.
What was the first cartoon that gave you recognition?
My cartoon and caricature were published for the first time when I was 13 years old in a cartoon magazine. But about 10 years ago I decided to work professionally and participate in contests. I won my first international prize from Norway in 2013. It helped that I was introduced to the world of cartoons as a new cartoonist.
How long have you been working as an artist?
Ever since I can remember drawing, painting, cartoon, and caricature, but professionally around 10 years ago I held my exhibitions and participated in cartoons and caricatures festivals around the world.
Name three artists/cartoonists/caricaturists you are inspired by? How have they inspired you?
Javad Alizadeh was the first great cartoonist and caricaturist I saw in his artworks in the Humor and Caricature magazine when I was a child. His cartoons are philosophical with deep messages and also I love his caricatures style. Besides, he wrote some articles about cartoons and introduced many famous cartoonists and caricaturists that were a precious source for me as a young cartoonist. One of my most favorite artists is Roland Topor who was known for the surreal nature of his work. He is the creator of surreal, deep, and bizarre situations.
René Magritte is another of my favorite artists who I appreciate for his amazing masterpieces. His surreal paintings and his artwork inspire me always.
Why did you decide to be a cartoonist/caricaturist/artist?
Exaggerated drawing of portrait or caricature is something I have always been interested in. Because I think it’s a kind of visual art that creativity plays the main role in that. About cartoons, I should say that I can express my opinion easily by visual objects without any words and everyone with different languages can understand it in the same way and it is a pleasure for me.
What was the first exhibition that you attended?
When I was in high school I had a solo cartoon exhibition as an amateur and freshman cartoonist, but my first official solo exhibition was held at the Iranian Cartoon House gallery in Tehran in 2011.
Tell us about you and your artwork? Which genres of cartoons do you like to draw?
I think most of my works are serious and I try to show vividly to my audiences the terrible conditions that we all were placed in.
Well… I prefer my cartoons don’t belong to a specific time and place and always be new to audiences. The themes about main human life problems like poverty, war, air pollution, corruption, and encouraging people to solve them with a strong message always are my goal to create artwork.
Tell us about some of your favorite pieces of artwork. Do you feel our young generation is talented enough to hold up their passion for arts, drawing?
My favorite artworks are those that can make a tie connection to audiences and force them to think about our world and all events that happen to surround us. Yes indeed… I believe that the young generation always has new ideas to create new artworks and say new messages and I’m hopeful for the future of art.
Do you think political cartoons or caricatures should be regardless of depicting any biases?
Yes in my view all people and also the cartoonists should feel free to express their opinions, but as we see in many places the politicians don’t tolerate opposite views and restrict freedom of expression.
What is the biggest achievement you think that you earned in your career?
By drawing cartoons I can express my opinion to people conveniently and without intermediaries, but the biggest achievement for me is meeting the greatest people and artists around the world and visiting many countries and different cultures.
According to you, what are some of the main qualities that a cartoonist should possess?
In my mind, a good cartoonist as an artist should be skillful in drawing first of all, but it’s not enough and they should warn people and show them the problems of life by their art.
Did you face obstacles in the early days of your career? If yes, then what sort of?
Yes, it was. In my childhood and before the digital life and the birth of the internet I had many difficulties showing my works, because I was far away from the capital city and I didn’t have access to Cartoon magazines and newspapers, but now you can show your works by just one click to all people in the world. I believe the internet reduced the distances and removed the barriers.
Did you ever get threatened or bullied because of your job?
In my country, cartoonists have limitations to draw some political and religious topics and I usually express my opinion symbolically and indirectly in my cartoons.
Difference between the old and new generations’ cartoons?
I think the new generation cartoons are different in style and techniques than old cartoons, besides they try to focus on the new and contemporary challenges of human lifestyle like technology, social media, fake relationships, and something like that.
Any suggestions that you would like to share with our new cartoonist/artist?
My suggestion is that they first learn to draw well and see the cartoons and caricatures from magazines and websites more and more and follow all events in this field.
What do you think about Toons Mag?
It’s one of my favorite cartoon websites and I saw it 7-8 years ago I think. I enjoy the topics and editorial cartoons. On Toons Mag website you can find the precious cartoon archive from great cartoonists that it’s like a treasure for cartoon lovers.
Are you interested to use Toons Mag as your cartoon publishing platform?
Yes, why not?! It’s my pride to get the opportunity to publish and share my works there.
Do you think that more and more exhibitions should be arranged for promising new artists all over the world?
Yes, it can cause their artworks to be seen and they pass this path rapidly in the right way.
The difference that you want to see in your career after 10 years from now?
I hope cartoonists have more job security and work stronger against political and religious biases and restrictions.
Follow Saman Torabi at TM @saman, Facebook and Instagram
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