Reza Abedini and Persian calligraphy
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Graphic designer Reza Abedini was born in 1967 in Tehran. He graduated from the Fine Arts Faculty at the University of Tehran in 1992 and then became a painter and illustrator. Abedini is now one of the most famous ambassadors of Iranian graphic design and has been rewarded on several occasions, both nationally and internationally. In 2006, he received the Prince Claus Fund award.
A member of the Iranian graphic designers association, Abedini is also a writer and a freelance art critic. He worked in collaboration with the Iranian cultural monthly Sureh in the early 90s and is today in charge of the art section of the magazine Manzar. His graphic design work is mainly within the cultural sphere; in particular within performing arts where he has created numerous memorable logos. However, Abedini’s main interest remains typography and he works often with press graphic design.
Like many other graphic designers of his generation, Abedini’s main source of inspiration is visual arts and Persian calligraphy. What is original about his work is that he was the first to recognise the creative potential of Persian calligraphy and to transform it into contemporary graphic typography. Abedini’s style is defined by the use of traditional codes and images from Persian art fused with modern styles. This way, he manages to create a whole new visual code. During a retrospective exhibition at the Anatome Gallery in Paris in 2008, he spoke about this osmosis as “Persianity”.
As an art critic, Abedini analyses the relationship between typographical letters and image. “I keep talking about Persian typography because I believe that graphic designers should be conscious about the goal of their work,” he says. “I think it’s important for graphic designers to find their own perspective as early as possible during their studies. Young people should be aware of the importance of typography and use their talent to create a typographic language which is specific to Iran and uses all the potential of our writing.”
Abedini also teaches graphic design, visual conception, press art, poster design and typography in several universities, among them Tehran University, Fine Arts School, Azad University, and Alzahra. Being a teacher is particularly dear to him, as is the state of contemporary graphic design in his country. “The problem with many Iranian graphic designers today is that they don’t know either graphic design or typography as well as they should. The level of the graphic design graduates is not like that of those who work with a genuine inspiration and creative energy. My duty as a teacher is therefore to let my students develop their own creativity while at the same time helping them to create a strong bond with the graphic design culture.”
Through his teaching and his own creative work, Abedini continues to have a major influence on the young Iranian generation of graphic designers, something that shows how important Persian culture has become in contemporary graphic design.
Written by Arefeh Hedjazi and published with the courtesy of La Revue de Téhéran.