Amir Mahdi (Hani) Ansari was born in 1985 in Tehran. He majored in painting from Tehran Sureh University in 2011. Ansari is multidimensional and he has created many works professionally in the field of cartoon, illustration, sculpture, and caricature but he is well-known for his attractive and various press caricatures. His works were published in different newspapers and magazines such as Shargh newspaper and its magazines, Bighanoon, Shahr-e-Vang, Khatkhati and Donyaye Football magazines.
Ansari wouldn’t like to attend in festivals and contest but in 2015 he was the finalist on the golden turtle in Russia museum. He was awarded in domestic festivals too such as: the first prize of Fajr visual arts 2013 in the field of sculpture, commendation letter of Faje visual arts 2013 in the field of painting, and the first prize of the end of Daesh festival.
In 2009, Ansari organized his personal exhibition in Jakarta Indonesia. He attended the domestic exhibition too such as: Tehran Post pop at the Mah-e- Mehr gallery in 2011, Tehran Nim-Dayereh group in Milad tower 2016, and Tehran artist in 2012. We have interviewed him and you can read it as follow.
How did you become a cartoonist?
- By chance! I was painting student and I needed a job to earn money because I was married. Norouz Abbasi introduced me to Saba. I worked there for about two months, then I worked Hamid Bahrami group named Arya Kami, and it was one my dream. All happened by chance. Then I worked in some animations company until I visited Jamal Rahmati, we didn’t know each other, I showed him my works. He made me feel welcome and I started to work in Jamal Rahmati cartoon. When he saw my illustration work, he said that I was strong technically and I could start making cartoon. He advised me to work in Iran newspaper. I had worked in Iran newspaper for 7 years. Throughout these years, I have gained many experiences.
What was your first work and where did it publish?
- All my works were published in Iran newspaper. I illustrated in special letter every day and drew cartoon and caricature. Although they weren’t very good works, but I tried to improve them.
What was your dream in childhood?
- Children certainly have many dreams, I don’t remember my main dream but I remember I was interested in flying with a flying car and I wished I had a flying car.
Now, what do you wish for?
- In my life I have learned, I don’t wish much but it is better wanting something instead of wishing it. I am trying to be a realistic and I believe when you want something, you will achieve it by scheduling. Now, I don’t have a special dream but because I am a multidimensional person and I have worked in different fields. This Variety is always attractive to me. When I was painting, I wished illustration. And when I was illustrating I wished drawing cartoon and caricature. I created sculptures and sometimes I wrote poems. According to my feeling I always do some works. But I like cartoon works because they are always upgrading. It is sometimes hard and sometimes attractive.
Perhaps my most important wish is to try all the mentioned arts and do them very well. At first, I could feel well then I make people feel good so it gives me a positive feedback. Every artist would like his works be visited and admired until he receives positive energy for his next work. And I do my best work whether I feel good or bad.
What was your first prize?
- I had won my first prize when I was in guidance school. It wasn’t professional but it was very attractive for me because I could create a sculpture with soap. Although I had learned this technique from my teacher and I could create a hand by a cutter and I won a prize. I really can’t remember my first prize in the professional cartoon field. But I became the finalist of “Golden turtle” of Russia Moscow museum. I attended a few illustration festivals but I attended more painting and sculpture. I attended Fajr cartoon and illustration festival and they praised me. But the most important event in my life, to become a finalist at the Moscow museum.
What was your last prize?
- The first prize of the end of Daesh festival.
What’s your last work?
- I am painting and I am busy to prepare my painting collection and show them in an exhibition. But the last month I drew some caricature at Trumpism festival.
Do you work digitally or manually?
- I illustrate digitally but sometimes I sketch manually and finish it by digital tools. I am painting with color, brush, and canvas. If I have a special order, I work with digital paint. But I like both of them.
What tool and application, do you use?
- I use Photoshop and digital paint.
Which of your works, do you like most?
- In painting, I like one of my works the most which was about Kurdistan’s Kolbar as “bread sadness”. In caricature, I like most my portrait works and I can relate to them. If I don’t like one of my work, I won’t publish it. Several years ago I drew “Catherine Ashton” caricature and I like it technically.
I like “Trump” caricature of the end of Daesh festival. I work illustration a lot and I like some of them too. I have many advertising works too such as Ashura Campaign for Karaj municipality. I drew some works about Ashura and they were displayed on Karaj billboards, bridges, and squares. It was very pleasant and exciting.
Is it possible to teach the caricature and cartoon?
- Since I am an art school teacher, it is hard to teach cartoon and caricature. I believe that students who are powered in designing can learn how to get ideas and graphics by exercise and studying great artists’ works. In my experience, when I have tried to teach caricature, I found at first a person should become a designer then if he is interested in caricature, he could create a work unconsciously or by studying.
Which is the most important to you Technique or idea?
- I prefer idea more than technique. However, since 2004 I have started to work in art space and vocational schools, I tried to get more experiences and make my technique stronger. But since I have started cartoon and caricature, making idea became much more important to me. I have some works I have done them very quickly but they aren’t strong technically but they have an idea. Whether I don’t have enough time for a good technique but I have a good idea.
How ideas are formed in your mind?
- Select a good subject and theme is the most important thing. If we have a good subject, we can review it totally. We can consider its verbal and essence properties. Then we relate them with humor tools and day events.
How do you select a technique after you create an idea?
In the press we don’t have enough time, so we should select a subject, analyze it and make an idea and done it very quickly. Hence, when my idea was complete and perfect I used the technique very fast. Sometimes I couldn’t color it, but I wish when I liked the idea I did it better. I think method of technique selection and its executing depends on the time. Every artist tries to achieve personal style and maintains it in his works. Sometimes an artist creates his work by quick scratching. When he has enough time, he can work patiently and gloriously.
Have you been taught cartoon or caricature?
- I haven’t been taught directly and I never had a teacher to explain me and says my problems but because of my interest, I have tried to study the works of my favorite artists and I use their production style, idea generation and technical approach. Like all art fields, individual in education try to select a reference to learn training.
What is the main feature of your works in terms of form, execution, and content?
- According to professors on my works analysis and in my opinion, anatomy features and figures are apparent in my works. When I draw a cartoon or caricature, I use the deformed state that I have learned so far. It means I don’t consider caricature components but I pay attention to the forms. If somebody’s nose is big, I draw bigger nose. Or I draw small eyes, smaller than real eyes. If a form is curve, I try to increase its curve as much as it needs or if I see a broken line I sharp it much more. I work on the forms and change them. I use figurative painting and I am interested it.
How long do you usually work on a caricature?
- I do my works very fast. Since I have started designing, the promptitude of the caricature drawing was attractive to me. I see it in my works too and it is the main propertied of my works. However, this promptitude depends on the type of work. For example, for press caricature, we have only one hour but about one day is enough for festival works.
Is the simplicity or complexity of the form, related to the complexity or simplicity of the idea too?
- If the idea is simple, it is better the form is simple too. However, it is the feature and aim of a graphic work but illustration, cartoon and caricature are included in this category. It is better to show an idea simply because audiences understand it more easily. Our audiences are people who have different thoughts. So everyone should be able to relate to our works.
How effective are the awards and participating in domestic and foreign festivals, in developing your works?
- They certainly are very important and I can’t deny it. It is like a final exam in school. If we get good marks, we feel happy. So festivals are good for an artist not only mentally but also his financial conditions become better.
Apart from form, execution, and technique, what can you do with cartoon, caricature and animation and which approach do you have for their subjects?
- For each work we need a kind of tool so I work in different fields. When I have an idea, I would like to create a work with own tool. So I always try to update and complete myself. I use each of them based on the subject and position. For example, capturing photo create a work that painting can’t do that and film create a work that camera can’t do. Each tools design to do special work but do it well such as music, painting and etc. An artist should only work with these tools and can derive output and conclusion from the tools.
In your opinion, how much a work should rely on form and idea, and content?
- I think form and idea could produce content. In fact, all of them create work and make it a describable and criticizable work.
Do you prefer one of these more important than the others? What is the relationship between the form and content in a cartoon in terms of companionship? What do you think about companionship, convergence, and synergy of these two groups to create valuable and great works?
- I think they complete each other. In the first step, the form determines the direction of the audience to achieve a content conclusion.
Who is the best foreign caricaturist in your opinion?
- May be it is funny that I don’t have enough time to know and visit foreign caricaturists. I know domestic caricaturists very well and they are very attractive to me. In fact, I don’t have enough time to study the foreigner works because I work in different fields. So I prefer to select domestic artist such as Hossein Safi, Afshin Sobouki, Bozorgmehr Hoseinpour, and Kambiz Derambakhsh. Their works are attractive to me technically.
What is the best movie have you ever seen?
- I watch movie a little, because my children always watch T.V and I almost watch cartoon and caricature. But I like Hero, The Croods.
Who is the best Iranian and foreign actor in your opinion?
- I’m interested in Peyman Maadi works.
What is the best book have you ever read?
- I often read poem such as Saadi, specially his satirical poem.
Which Iranian artist do you most in contact with?
- I am not a good communicator and most of mu communication are professionally. Sometimes I contact with Jamal Rahmanti, and Mahdi Shahmohammadi and Mehrdad Oskuee who are documentary filmmaker.
What is your opinion about Iran cartoon website?
- When I acquired with Hamid Bahrami, Iran cartoon was the first website which I could find humor sources in it and I could see the works in galleries and enjoy them and I can relate with them. It was more attractive to me since 2010 I have started illustrating.
Do you have any comment?
- I’m very glad you know me as cartoonist collection. I can’t categorize myself in painters, scalpers, and illustrators groups. In fact, I don’t try to name my works. If I would like to do a work so I do it. I create, draw or produce it and I don’t name it. I exhibit my work anywhere including publishing in press, a picture on T.V, in a festival or any other places. I’m so happy that I am a member of cartoonist collection too.
Thank you for spending time with us.