SHIRIN is an Illustrator
Illustration from RAMADAN MOON (written by Naima B Robert) copyright: Shirin Adl – all rights reserved .…if it wasn’t for my poor husband, Kamyar (who came along later when I had already chosen my career path) I would probably have given up on this many years ago.
KAMYAR is a photographer
Bike Mechanic / Shahr-e Rey-Tehran copyright: Kamyar Adl – all rights reserved ….in real life things are not always exactly how you want them to be but that’s the beauty of it ….combined they are a couple with two very distinct eyes.
Fattalent spoke to them both about there about their backgrounds and their art.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name: Shirin Adl Age: 34 – born in Harlow, England Lives: Oxford, England Occupation: Illustrator / Story teller _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Illustration from RAMADAN MOONShirin Adl – all rights reserved (written by Naima B Robert) copyright: Shirin Adl was born Shirin Saramad in Harlow in 1975. A little while later she left England for Iran and decided to stay there as it seemed like a good place for growing up. That is to say her grandparents’ garden was a great place for ant spotting…..In 1994 Shirin went back to England and really loved it as they not only had decent ants over there, but also had lots of dogs and woodpigeons too. When did you first get interested in story telling and illustration what attracted you to it? I’ve been interested in story telling and illustration ever since I can remember really. My mum got me interested in drawing when I was very little. She would spend ages drawing little pictures with me. She always says she’s terrible at drawing but of course as a child anyone who can draw a dog that doesn’t look like a horse, is up there with Renoir and Caravaggio for you! The story telling thing came from a lot of people. My parents and grandparents were all wonderful at telling stories. But the main influence was probably my father who is a great writer. He would write away all day and at night the three of us would huddle together and read what he had written that day under candle light. We weren’t crazy, it was just that there were a lot of power cuts during the war. Sketchbook drawing for EID copyright: Shirin Adl – all rights reserved Your childhood in Iran seems to have been great influence? Yes of course. That is a very important part of my life and what made me, me so I’m always going to draw from that. In my writing I keep going back to that time too as there are just so many stories there to be told. I just remembered I was once reading the memoirs of this poor girl who had a terrible childhood, being dragged around India by her parents. After she had spent the entire book complaining about what a hard time she’d had, her father gave her a framed New York Times cartoon showing a teenage girl wearing a tight ponytail and round glasses, sitting in a window seat, scribbling furiously in a notebook and the caption read something like, “Thank you for a wonderful childhood Mum and Dad. You have robbed me of the chance of ever becoming a successful author.” I liked that a lot! I used to feel that way myself when I was younger. I do hope that is not the case though as I’ve had a very wonderful childhood indeed. Book Jacket from Ilkhanan-eh IranShirin Adl – all rights reserved copyright: What was the attitude of friends and family to this interest/ possible career? They were very happy about it as far as I could tell. To my family it was much more important to do something you enjoyed rather than something that made you a lot of money. However if it wasn’t for my poor husband, Kamyar (who came along later when I had already chosen my career path) I would probably have given up on this many years ago. It was absolutely wonderful to have someone so supportive of my work. We would definitely have been a lot more comfortable if I had a normal job and a proper salary but he was still happy with me doing my artwork and supported me through all the hard times. How was this viewed in the society you were brought up in? A lot of people don’t really know much about illustration and it doesn’t help that they insist on calling it illaastration! I did get a first for my degree, won a competition and was short-listed for another one and ended up meeting the Queen though so people can’t help but be impressed even if they’re still not quite sure exactly what illaastration is all about! Illustration from Grand Prix vs. Aloo EsfenajShirin Adl copyright all rights reserved -a short story by Was it difficult to get accepted into the profession? Yes it was. As I’m sure most artists would agree, it is really hard to make a name for yourself in this business. Here having grown up in Iran really helped though. A lot of the work I’ve been doing has had something to do with Iran. At first I was a bit wary of becoming typecast but now I love it as it has brought a lot of wonderful projects my way. Any particular subject matter attracts you most? It’s all great to me really! I guess funny children’s books are the best but doing editorials is great too. I like the challenge. A little while ago I did a few illustrations for a piece about parliament which I thought was going to be really boring but I ended up enjoying it a lot. As our tutor used to say, “a brief is there to serve you” so I always find a way of making any subject work for me. A House Party, Tehran-style – comissioned by Channel 4 Copyright: Shirin Adl all rights reserved Any illustrators/artists that you admire or have influenced your work? Ralph Steadman, Sara Fanelli, Sara Midda, Lydia Monks, Gahan Wilson (my dad had one of his books and I used to look at it over and over again, even though it did scare me a bit!) Vladimir Radunsky, Ahmad Shamloo and of course my Father, Farokh Saramad Shirin has two books that she has illustrated coming out this year. RAMADAN MOON by Naima B Robert comes out in July 2009. It’s a poem about the month of Ramadan, told from the point of view of a child who watches the progress of the moon, from one new moon to the next. The second one is called, PEA BOY and Other Stories From Iran, retold by Elizabeth Laird. This was a project that Shirin particularly enjoyed having grown up hearing some of these stories. The book comes out in September 2009. Both books are published by Frances Lincoln Publishers Some of Shirin’s wonderful illustrations can be seen on Fattalent.com But also check out her website at www.shirinadl.co.uk and her blog Shirin in Engelstan _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name: Kamyar Adl Age: 34 – born in Tehran, Iran Lives: Oxford, England Occupation: Assembly Associate at BMW Plant, Oxford _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ What got Kamyar most excited about Photography, was shooting mainly his close friends and later on people in the street and their surroundings. Growing up in Tehran may have been one of the reasons behind this interest. “ …..If you can handle the traffic and pollution in my opinion Tehran is a great place for street photography. I still look forward to taking pictures there every time I go back.” Hat Shop -Covered Market, Oxford copyright: Kamyar Adl all rights reserved Stereo Man – Mirdamad, Tehran Copyright: Kaymar Adl all rights reserved But whether it be the hustle and bustle of Tehran or the outwardly gentile streets of Oxford, Kamyar’s razor sharp eye captures images vibrant in colour and composition. If a camera was meant for someones touch then there’s no doubting that one at least has found a loving hand. But where did it all begin……… My Uncle used to send National Geographic Magazines from America to me regularly when I was a teenager in Tehran. He thought I enjoyed the articles but my English was not that good at the time and I used to just look at the pictures over and over again. I think a combination of looking at those images, my love for anything mechanical (including my brother’s Nikon EL2) and later on one of my close friends (Afshin Ghaderpanah) who was a professional photographer got me interested in Photography. You mentioned (on your site) your brother having a camera that you used when he went off to study -were there any other photographers in the family? My brother’s Nikon wasn’t used that regularly. It was mainly for special occasions like birthdays or holidays but my father’s cousin kamran Adl (coincidently with a similar name to mine) is actually a well-known professional photographer in Iran but because my parents were separated when I was three and I was raised mainly by my mother’s side of the family, I knew him only by name until I contacted him later when I was studying photography in Tehran. He was very kind and showed me lots of techniques in his darkroom. Most of your photographs seem to be of people -either in formal groups or isolated in a urban landscape? That’s right. I did try lots of different things but what got me most excited was shooting mainly my close friends and later on people in the street. When I go out shooting this is what I am constantly looking for, people and their surroundings. I think growing up in Tehran might be one of the reasons for choosing this kind of photography. If you can handle the traffic and pollution, in my opinion Tehran is a great place for street photography. I still look forward to taking pictures there every time I go back. Inside Barbari Bakery -Naazi Abad, TehranKamyar Adl all rights reserved Copyright: “Colour” seems to play a very important role in your shots and their composition – often strong and vibrant, -is this deliberate? Not always. I try to be careful where my main subjects and also the lines and surfaces are within the frame. In terms of colour I just try to find enough contrast between the main subject and the background to make sure it stands out and the colour of the background objects or surfaces are not distracting too much. But saying that when I find the right subject in the street I just compose and shoot. They might not have my favourite colour combinations or even compositions. You don’t always have time to rearrange things and in real life things are not always exactly how you want them to be but that’s the beauty of it. You discover so many things that you never thought would work. Chadoor in Bazaar, Tehran Copyright: Kamyar Adl all rights reserved Any photographers/artists that have influenced your approach? I think films in general and amongst photographers, Abbas (Magnum photographer), Boogie photographer, Sebastiao salgado, Henri Cartier Bresson, Martin Parr, Trent Parke, Nils Jorgensen and all the photographers in www.in-public.com and lots more. ……any ambition to take it up professionally? Oh yes ! I do think about it all the time Even if I can’t make a living out of it I do want to take photographs regularly and put up frequent exhibitions in the future. South Park Today, Oxford Copyright: Kamyar Adl all rights reserved A selection of Kamyar’swork can be seen on fattalent.com To view his whole collection visit his website at www.kamshots.co.uk _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Interview: john warwick tashakkor to: Shirin & Kamyar