Interview with Ali Miraee / winner of the international humor Award of Italy
Ali Mirai is a cartoonist, caricaturist, designer and illustrator, born in 1979 in Tehran. He started his artistic activity with the magazine of humor and caricature and won his first prestigious international award in 1995, from the second biennial caricature contest of Tehran. He graduated in the field of industrial design in 2003, so he had to stop his activity as an artist, he started his job as art director of famous publications, illustrator and designer of dozens of books’ covers and philosophical publications…
His participation in international festivals resumed in 2012 and so far, he has won several international awards in various branches of cartoons and caricature, including: portrait, press cartoon, comic, political cartoon, comic Stripes and black humor from Romania, Canada, South Korea, Cyprus, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Serbia, etc.
Among his numerous awards we can mention: The Grand Prix of HomoDeva (Romania), the Special trophy of the International Cartoon Festival (Cyprus), the First Prize of the Political/editorial Cartoon from the 41st International Film Festival in Piracicaba, and the Special Prize of the World Festival in South Korea. His artworks were collected as a full-color book called "The Best of Ali Miraee", and was published in 2006 in Romania.
Ali Miraee has recently won one of the special awards of the World humor Festival in Italy, 2021. For this reason, we have had a conversation with him:
Firstly, please tell us about the award you have received from the World Humor Award in Italy, 2021?
I have sent two artworks to this contest; they just announced the winners and that is why I do not know for which works I have been announced as winner. The award ceremony will be held on Augusts 28.
What is their subject?
“The Poisoned planet”
What kind of poison did you mention in your works?
One showed the air pollution, and the other soil pollution.
Now adays, the environment and environmental pollution has become a concern of many cartoonists, in your view to what extent and how cartoon can be useful in this regard?
It can be effective not only about the pollution but about all man’s concerns, it can be an instrument to convey messages to public. Messages containing the dangers and problems of today's world ... environment, social issues, deprivation of social and personal freedoms and many other issues.
Please tell us about the details of your works that you think is significant to know about?
I do not know which one has received the award.
So, what about the style and atmosphere?
I have tried to double the impact of the work by creating a space in both. In "Soil Pollution", with black spots floating in the sky, a lonely dead tree and the absence of any living creature (except for the ostrich, which is the main subject), I tried to create an apocalyptic atmosphere ... I used dark and non-shiny colors, except the whiteness of the ostrich’ will envelope, in this way I distinguishes it from other details of the work.
How was the contest?
The point is that this contest is not open to all cartoonists, they send invitation to some selected cartoonists. Marco De Angelis, a famous Italian cartoonist, was among the organizer’s team, who make the contest more valuable. The awarding ceremony will be held in a castle in Parma, Italy. They will pay for the hotel and ticket.
As I am a very lucky person! (He is kidding) I won this award when non-European citizens are not given a Schengen visa due to the corona! Otherwise, I would have been invited to the awards ceremony, which will be held in late August, and they would have paid for all the tickets and accommodation, but the embassy did not allow me to be interviewed for the reason I mentioned.
So, why they selected you? Did you participate in this contest before? Or just because of your works they invited you?
Last year, I participated in this contest on the subject of “water”. I do not know about their criteria for selecting the artists, but you can see the presence of female artists invited to participate in this festival which is significant. Probably one of their criteria (of course includes Not me!) is gender equality and valuing female artists.
This contest is a humor-based, and your works contain black humor too, to what extend humor is important in your works?
Most of my work are funny, but my last works have turned to bitter and black subjects subconsciously, which is probably a consequence of what is happening around me and maybe my age.
What is the difference between humor or entertaining humor and black humor, which also has a style in cartoon? Are these two different in terms of subject or just they are different in terms of conveying message, or the black humor is just a price that the artist pays to attract the audience's attention to the work?
I do not agree with the word "ransom or price" totally ... The function of these two is different, sometimes it is very difficult to determine the border between them ... to me none of them has superiority, and Mordillo and Zlatkovsky are equally valuable.
In my opinion, whether a cartoon is fan or black largely depends on the geography and the place of birth or life of its creator. How many cartoonists do you know from countries with high social welfare such as Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway or Luxembourg who work on black type?!
However, most black comic cartoonists belong to societies such as Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East ... Some time ago, Belgian cartoonist, Norbert Vaughan, told me that he thinks that the mission of a cartoon is just to make people laugh.!
Don't you think the misery and problems of their homeland have led to this kind of humor?
Probably ... it is an important factor in genes, race, welfare, social relations and even political structure.
Is it possible to distinguish between serious and tomfoolery humor?
I do not know what you mean by tomfoolery?! ... But I myself am a fan of idle humor, which I think is very hard and artistic.
I mean a kind of meaningless cartoon.
Despite literature which sometimes contain meaningless works, I haven’t seen any idle and nonsense cartoon. Of course, we can see some works in social networks that cannot be considered as cartoon or caricature due to the criteria we have for these arts.
What are you doing these days and what have been your last activities?
In the realm of caricature, I only participate in festivals, and due to my frustration with the change in the current situation, I do not work on editorial and critical cartoons ... If one wants to comprehend it, one word is enough ..
It was a good, remarkable interview.