Alireza Zakeri is a cartoonist, painter, and designer. He was born in Gorgan, in 1968. He started painting and calligraphy professionally since 1983. He had learned designing and painting from Mr.Hadi Taghizade for a decade, from 1987. He held his first exhibition as social documentary photography in Mashahd in 1987.
He’s started caricature since about 1990 and he get started press cartoon in Ghods newspaper as a graphic and caricature secretary since 1993. He wrote some professional articles on caricature and illustration for newspapers and magazines, designing a few hundreds literature books, poster design, and etc. He has cooperate with several famous newspaper and media as cartoon designer and caricature service secretary since 25 years ago. He has worked in Fars news since 2005 and he set up caricature group there, so it was a new thing in news space. This group worked until summer of 2019. He worked as a jury of international caricature book festivals, The Satanic Verses festival, Wall Street festival, and several graphic domestic and foreign festivals. He attended in famous caricature festivals, and he won several prizes in caricature and graphic fields from Japan, China, Macedonia, England and Iran.
Some his last prizes included Golden Tuba prize of 9th Fajr international festival of visual arts in 2016, prize and golden medal of 5th international art festival of resistance for painting in 2018.
Mr.Zakeri believes that visual arts’ artist should learn different art fields until they could create interdisciplinary works and they invent new art styles. Therefore, he has studied graphic, deigning, illustrating, calligraphy, and other visual arts fields besides painting and he has created many works. Also, he has written some poems.
Mr.Zakeri received Second Order Medal of Culture and Art from Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in 2011. One of his best works is the collection of caricatures named “The moan in the wind”, its theme is Iran-Iraq war. He has started painting since 1999. He has been one of the chosen and the honored of 2th Trumpism2 festival. We have interviewed him and you can read it as follow:
How did you become a cartoonist?
- Before caricature drawing I’ve been drawing caricatures. By seeing Kasni group caricatures, I was interested in caricature.
What was your first cartoon? Do you remember it?
- I drew two lecterns in front of each other and two persons wear boxing gloves. They punch each other instead of talking.
When and where did your first work publish?
- It was published in Ghods newspaper in 1992.
What was your dream in childhood?
- I wish I didn’t have to go to school and I had a 64 colored pencils and oil paints like my older brother.
Now, what do you wish for?
- I wish all people love each other and they stop being selfish and don’t want everything to themselves. Because, others have the rights to live too. If we don’t have a kind heart, so we are possessive like Daesh and we keep everything to ourselves and we don’t consider any rights for others. People could be saved by their kind hearts and morals.
What was your first prize?
- The first prize of the country youth in painting in Tehran in 1985.
What was your last prize?
- The first great prize of painting of the international art festivals of resistance.
What’s your last work?
- I wrote two poems; neo poetry and ode poetry. I drew a painting too. I draw less caricature. Every idea and subject can’t force me to draw it as a caricature. I have done it before but I take it harder than before.
Do you work digitally or manually?
- It makes no difference to me but designing caricature and painting manually is easier and more enjoyable to me. I’ve been a painter for 40 years and I have no problem for executing.
What tool and application, do you use?
- I often use French pen and ink, acrylic, gouache, and oil color. I’ve used Photoshop and Corel painter software professionally.
What is the most important element that you emphasize in creating your works?
- The most important element in my caricature is people’s behavior criticism. I usually use animals in my works.
For a period of time, I’ve seen some your works that you criticized politicians. Are you a political caricaturist or you engage other themes and approaches too?
- It’s true. I have some press works with social, cultural, and criticizing politicians’ behavior theme. But I’m not a political caricaturist. I think a caricaturist shouldn’t be a political activist. We draw different things with different themes. A responsible caricaturist has a great responsibility and it is fair criticism.
How does a cartoonist’s point of view to political themes? Should it be clear and direct or complex and ambiguous because of its clear and protesting approach? Which approach do you choose? Does it depend on theme?
- Some caricaturists create works that it displays the theme and also their works have deep conceptual layer and it isn’t limited to time and place. They all depend on caricaturists’ study, experience and skills level. A caricaturist should have a clear expression, fairness and honesty.
Does a caricaturist should have clear expression due to explicit and protesting nature of this art or sometimes it may reduce art value of his work?
- Ambiguity differs from having deep layers in art work. If an artist have deep thinking, his works are original and express many concepts. However, there is a risk, because they probably can’t communicate with the audiences or even festivals’ jury. Because most of caricatures are not deep, so the jury have problem with deep conceptual works. On the other hand, I know some caricaturists work with visual forms but they don’t know the concept of their works.
At last, press and journal caricatures should have clear expression and they don’t be so ambiguous and it doesn’t confuse the audiences.
Is it important for you to connect with the audiences besides the art values?
- It is the basis of an art and literature work. If there is no audience, there is no art work too. But it shouldn’t reduce the value of a work. I hate avant garde in art works. But I try to have creativity in my works and don’t design sketchy works.
Do you regard the durability of a work or the range of audiences?
- The durability of a work is the dream of an artist. Sometimes even professionals can’t understand the concept of a work. I myself have this experience too. But there are a lot of audiences that they find the concept of my works and enjoy it. It is very important that we shouldn’t display everything in art works. Rather, there should be something that audiences involved in it and find the idea. When it happen, they enjoy it and they have this feeling that they themselves find the idea. While, seeing simple caricatures are not so much enjoyable.
Is it possible to teach the caricature and cartoon?
- Yes, of course.
What about caricature and cartoon idea?
- Yes, all of them are skills and teachable. But it depends on something such as intelligence, artistic potentials, amount of studying, and taking work seriously.
Have you been taught cartoon or caricature?
- No. Not in cartoon and caricature field.
Which is the most important to you Technique or idea?
- An idea is very important. If an idea isn’t great, I don’t design it. Technic and execution are like a body for soul. If one of them becomes weak, so it causes weak result too. Although, I’ve seen some designers that they try to compensate a weak idea by strong execution. I believe strong execution deserves strong idea.
How ideas are formed in your mind?
- I usually focus on an idea, and I imagine everything for it and sometimes take a note. I allow my mind to do it. I don’t pay attention to the ideas come to my mind immediately and are complete. Because I saw them before definitely and my mind remembers them first. I don’t cheated that it is inspired me or sparked in my mind. They have no place in art works.
How do you select a technique and executing style after creating an idea?
- I start deigning after it. I don’t sketch exactly and I execute it directly.
What is the main feature of your works in terms of form, execution, and content?
- I pay attention to the deep concepts around us and nobody considers them. I try to have creativity in my works that delight audiences.
How long do you usually work on a caricature?
- It’s about two three hour sessions.
Is the simplicity or complexity of the form, related to the complexity or simplicity of the idea too?
- No, it isn’t. An idea can be complex but it has simple execution.
How effective are the awards and participating in domestic and foreign festivals, in developing your works?
- Encouragement is important for artists. There are highest prizes in the world such as Oscar and Nobel. They effect definitely, but art rewards doesn’t mean the quality of artist work. I don’t like to explain more, because I remember sad things.
Apart from form, execution, and technique, what can you do with cartoon, caricature and animation and which approach do you have for their subjects?
- The audience should communicate with the work. If it doesn’t, so, it is a weak work.
In your opinion, how much a work should rely on form and idea, and content?
- This is very clear. If a work doesn’t have content or it is executed weakly, it can’t be successful.
Do you prefer one of these more important than the others?
- No, I don’t. They are both important. An artist should do all of them great.
What is the relationship between the form and content in your designs in terms of companionship?
- I consider the idea to be the main basis of the caricature and idea is the most important. But executing a work needs suitable technique. We shouldn’t cheated the visitors by excessive technique and execution.
What do you think about companionship, convergence, and synergy of these two groups to create valuable and great works?
- When an artist has rich thinking he can create valuable and original works. It isn’t possible to create a great work without watching good film, studying enough, having skill and science in other fields of art. An artist should communicate with poem, literature, music or cinema artists. It helps him to create special and unique works. Also, his great morality and inner aesthetics displays itself in his works. The arts makes human and we should start from ourselves first. My father told me: Always be a good person. You think it is simple but not.
What is your favorite visual arts beside cartoon and caricature? Do you have any experience?
- Yes, I was a painter and now I do it too. I’ve done social and artistic photography since 80s. My first exhibition was photography in 1987. I have some experiences in sculpturing. I’ve been a graphist for many years. All of them help me to create graphic works and sometimes I write poem too. But sometimes painting and visual arts can’t convey my feelings. The poem of a painter is different from the poem of a poet. I’ve been active in contemporary art.
New arts and new styles are created by the intersection of the arts and interdisciplinary works. It isn’t happen unless an artist has worked on some fields for several years. It’s not enough studying a little or just acquiring with some fields. It’s not a rolling stone that gathers no mass. Iranian famous people included poets, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and interpreter and they were called as Hakim and educated. In developed countries, they avoid working in one field.
Do you believe cartoon and caricature and other visual arts have poetry and literary nature? How does it happen?
- I believe that all arts can loan each other and develop, for example, Masoud Ziaee caricatures or the philosophy caricatures of Mr.Deram Bakhsh.
How much is the media aspect of cartoon and caricature important to you?
- Cartoon and caricature can include social issues and in future we can judge about the past. Of course, if artists don’t treat the social events as party and faction. Artists have great responsibilities.
What can be done about the artistic nature of a work that it isn’t impressed by media aspect and its messaging mission?
- I try to do it. It’s enough reviewed my caricatures. However, caricatures are affected by the society happenings, unless an artist wants to design fantastic works and doesn’t consider his around.
How much have the cartoons and caricatures dependent or independent of the day issues?
- It depends on it both much and little, and it depends on artist’s attitude and disturbance.
Does a cartoonist and caricaturist soften the bitter issues by humor or makes them ridiculous? What is your approach about it?
- A caricaturist shows the bitter issues, bitterer. The humor and sweetness of a work relates on the creativity. The creativity causes the durability of a work and an audience considers it.
I do it when I want to work on the bitter issues of society. It’s not true that the bitter issue become a laughing stock
Who is the best foreign caricaturist in your opinion?
- Berad Holland, Zlatkovsky, and Yuriy Kosobukin.
And among Iranian artists?
- All of the Iranian artists are great. I’m afraid I forget some of them.
What is the point of the intersection of cartoon and caricature with cinema and photography?
- They both have common point in dealing with social concepts and designing poetry concepts. They both express deep human concepts that they enjoy or suffer of them.
What is the point of the intersection of cartoon and caricature with other visual arts? And what are their differences?
- It is the wealth and durability of works. If a caricature doesn’t improve itself this aspect, so, it is removed from visual arts arena very soon. The caricature should return to its first step and reinforces its artistic aspect.
What is the best movie have you ever seen?
- The Shawshank Redemption, God Father, Mother by Ali Hatami, Still life by Sohrab Shahid Sales.
Who is the best Iranian and foreign actor in your opinion?
- Robert De Niro, Russel Crowe, Denzel Washington, Behruz, Parviz, Navid, and Peyman.
What is the best book have you ever read?
- Hafez, The Blind Owl, Mathnawi
Which Iranian artist do you most in contact with?
- I contact with many caricaturists, poets, cinema artists and press members.
What is your opinion about Iran Cartoon Website?
- It’s great and full of energy like always.
Do you have any comment?
- I am going to exhibit my paints in the near future and you will see more paints from me.
Be Successful and thank you for spending time with us.