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Interview with Saman Torabi, the winner of Turkey's first prize, Turhan Seluck

Interview with Saman Torabi, the winner of Turkey's first prize, Turhan Seluck

Saman Torabi was born in Isfahan, 1981. He received MA in historic building preservation from Isfahan Art University. Torabi is familiar with the restoration, but his concern is mostly with caricature and cartoons, and he has designed valuable works over the past few years and has received dozens of national and international awards from art festivals, including: Aydin Dogan of Turkey, Satyricon of Poland, Norwegian Festival, Water Treasures, Cartoon Book, Special Prize of the 3rd national “soft war” Cartoon Festival of North Khorasan, and special prize from the first “Iran Made” cartoon festival.

It is noteworthy to mention that Saman Torabi received the first prize of Turkey's ninth international festival "Turhan Seluck" three weeks ago, which was held in Milas. Another successful cartoonist from our country, Javad Takjoo, also won the second prize at this international festival.

Here is our interview with Saman Torabi:

What was your first cartoon?

Born in a football fan family, I was very fond of football as a kid, and the scenes and my favorite players were my favorite subjects at that time.

When and where was your first work published?

The first time I participated in a cartoon and caricature competition was about 1993 or 1994 , that was held by a Comic Magazine. The theme in the cartoon section was “house” and in the caricature section was “Picasso”. It was really enjoyable to see my printed work.

What was your dream when you were a child?

As far as I remember, I expressed my feeling and thoughts through caricature and cartoon, so I wish I were a professional artist.

And what do you wish now?

In the field of cartoon and caricature, I have dreams that many of which have not come true yet. Of course, I received many awards during a short time, but I wish I drew outstanding artworks, that would be technically excellent and appreciable by my audiences and me. 

What was your first prize?

My first prize was at the Provincial Visual Arts Festival, but the first prize that motivated me to be more serious about the festivals was the first prize I received at the Norwegian Festival "Tolerance" in 2013

What was your last prize?

The first prize of Turkey's ninth international festival "Turhan Seluck" , three weeks ago. The festival is held annually with the support of the Municipality of Milas and in memory of Turhan Seluck, one of the most popular cartoonists in Turkey and in the world.

what are you working on now?

I have participated in fewer festivals for a while. I’m working on something that hope to finish it soon. Of course, the call for the Polish Satyricon Festival has been announced a few days ago, and since it is a special festival, and I have been awarded two prizes, I try to find a good idea for attending the new festival.

Do you draw cartoons digitally or manually?

I use software from the beginning to the end.

Which medium do you use?

I use photoshop (Wacom Bamboo pen), I have also used Art Rage.

Can cartoon and caricature be taught?

The basics of this art are somehow teachable, especially the caricature, which is an exaggerated facial drawing, but I don't think cartoon or conceptual painting can be taught, and one should have art background. The students can only learn the basics of design, composition, ideas, and a variety of visual expression techniques by training, but there is no guarantee that they would be an influential cartoonist.

What about the idea of a cartoon or a caricature?

There are books for Ideation, but as I said before, the pure idea usually comes from a reflection of the artist's life and environment, otherwise, we would see similarities of artworks that can sometimes be accused of plagiarism.

In your opinion which one is more important: idea or technique?

Both. In my opinion, the composition of a good technique and a bad idea is just a beautiful illustration. And also, a bad form can ruin a good idea. Masterpieces are highly qualified in both idea and form.

How do you come up with an idea?

Typically, I have my own view of everyday events and try to draw them using signs and visual elements that convey my aim quickly and without any intermediary.

Have you ever trained?

Not in an academic manner, but I am always learning through reading articles published in specialized journals and watching the works of professors and artists.

Is drawing caricature your main occupation?

I have studied historic building preservation and have been working in this field for many years.

How long does an artwork takes?

In the past, I drew very quickly, but I draw more precisely now. I do not draw a work at once, it may take two to three days.

What does length of time depend on?

Creation of the cartoon depends on the visual elements, but in the case of caricature, technique is more important, it usually takes more time for the primary part and the final.

What are the characteristics of a good artwork in terms of idea and form?

In my opinion, a good artwork can transfer a complex concept very quickly and briefly with a few elements.

Who is the best foreign caricaturist in your opinion?

I'm more interested in Eastern Europe artists’ artworks, especially Poland, Russia and Ukraine.

And among Iranian?

Iranian artists are among the best cartoonists in the world. I really enjoy seeing their works.

what is the best movie you have ever watched?

I'm not used to watching movie. Of course, I have watched the movie of the great Iranian and foreign directors. But Parviz Shahbazi's "Deep Breath" was the best and most realistic film I've ever seen, because of some common sense.

Who are the best foreign and Iranian actors or actress in your opinion?

Certainly, Ezatollah Entezami is greatest Iranian actor. I am very fond of Clint Eastwood with his particular style too.

What is the best book you've ever read?

I have read many books by Iranian and world writers, Sadegh Hedayat’s books are very inspiring to me.

With whom (artist) you are in touch more?

I have many close friends at college, most of whom are active in painting, photography, illustration, and architecture. Of course, I also have many good cartoonist friends. To name a few, I have to mention my fellow cartoonist, Javad Takjoo and Abbas Naseri, who are always kind to me, and I consult with them.

What do you think about Iran Cartoon site?

One of the main reasons of Iranian artists’ success in international contests is specialized magazines, especially Iranian cartoon and caricature sites, which have made young artists familiar with the work of masters around the world. Iran Cartoon, as a pioneer is one of the most valuable sources and most visited sites in the world. The new version is attractive to the audience and I really appreciate it.

Thank you for your time

I wish you all the success!

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