Tag Archives: Artist

Art is life for Iran’s Tooba Rezaei

When Tooba Rezaei picks up her pencil, she feels her sense of purpose. For her, art is much more than simply making something pretty. Art is about creating. It is a sense of escapism for both herself and the people that see her work. Every single thing she paints or draws tells a story, whether it is abstract or not. She shares herself with the world with each stroke of her paint brush, and is not afraid by this notion. Originally from Iran, Rezaei captivated her country with her talent, and now, she is taking the world by storm.

As both an artist and an animator, Rezaei’s work is both stylistic and intricate. In animation, she is a leader in the field. Her award-winning contributions to SilverFit, a virtual therapy system to train gross motor skills and ADL tasks during rehabilitation sessions or supervised exercise programs specifically for older people, revolutionized the company. After having the roles of background designer, background painter, character designer and character animator, her style was adopted by the company for all of their future endeavors. She even ventured into filmmaking with her animated short A Sweet Dream, which tells the bitter-sweet allegorical look at the desires of little girl who wants the world to see her talents shine through the difficulties of her life. The film went on to win several awards at many prestigious international film festivals, and Rezaei’s versatility was known to the world.

Despite this success, it was her work as a visual artist that started Rezaei’s career, and where her passion that she has had since her childhood lies. Her creations have seen public praise, and she was even selected to paint a display for Westland City Hall in Holland. The painting, titled Variety and Unity, displays symbols from various countries and cultures incorporated into Rezaei’s own style. It has gone on to receive acclaim not just from the employees of the City Hall, but all those who see it.

“Without art, life would be very hard for me,” said Rezaei.

Rezaei’s artwork has garnered so much attention throughout her career that she has been published in several books. One of these was the book Gods and Goddesses, published by Michael Publishing. The book contains 126 paintings from 23 different mythologies, as selected by the participating artists. Each mythology is arranged with a summary write-up of the culture and followed by the subject write up of the painting, artist’s biography and artist’s discussion of the art; the facing page displays the painting. Each artist had to select a god from ancient mythology to portray in their work. Rezaei’s work, titled Anahita, is in the Gods and Goddesses gatefold of the book.

Rezaei was contacted by the owner of Michael Publishing, Michael C. Phifer, to participate in the book. Very few artists were selected by the publisher. As the artwork started to come in, Phifer immediately recognized Rezaei’s style in her piece. He believes her work greatly improved the quality of his entire book, directly contributing to its commercial success.

Tooba made an incredible painting for the book, and it is easily one of my very top favorites of all them. The color pallet is exquisite; the pose is tantalizing and the image is breathtaking,” said Phifer. “Tooba delivered a knockout piece well ahead of our deadline and it was one of the pieces that helped inspire other artists raise their game. Her piece delivers a very sensual feeling without being blatantly sexy. That is a difficult thing to do and do well. Craftsmanship is an art form in itself that is partly learned and partly instinctive. Tooba is a craftsman.”

Rezaei was also selected to create a piece for the book Inner Vision. The Inner Vision book is made for the Inner Visions show called Contemporary Imaginative Realism at the Abend Gallery in Denver. Rezaei’s painting Anahita shows the ancient Iranian Goddess of water and fertility. It was displayed in both the show and the book, and was a great honor for the artist.

She was also selected to create a piece for The Journal, a collection of masterful international artists from various genres and industries. This book goes beyond a simple art description, as it reveals the creative process and genius of each of the artists themselves. Rezaei was contacted by Jon Schindehette, the owner of ArtOrder to participate. ArtOrder is curator of fine limited edition prints for Beautimarks, educator with Bethany School Applied Arts, and creative director for ThinkGeek Denver and GameStop. Schindehette has more than 30 years of experience in the creative industry and has worked for such companies and brands as: Disney, Fox Entertainment, Warner Brothers, Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast, Harley-Davidson, Microsoft, Kodak, Price Waterhouse, Atari, Activision, Sony Entertainment, Bioware, Bethesda SoftWorks, Crystal Dynamics, and many more. He clearly recognizes an exceptional artist when he sees one, and he saw that in Rezaei.

“I am so honored that my artwork has been published next to all the amazing artists in the industry, such as Ian McCaig, who is an artist, writer and filmmaker. He was involved in the Star Wars franchise and many other iconic film and book projects,” said Rezaei, when speaking of being published in The Journal. “Seeing my work printed next to wonderful artists whose work I admire is a great feeling.”

With the book Spectrum 24, the selection process worked a bit differently for Rezaei than in the past. Previously, she created a specific piece for each book she was published in. However, with Spectrum 24, Rezaei submitted a piece she had previously created from her imagination for her own enjoyment. Only after finishing the piece did she think to submit her work to the book’s contest. Among thousands of entries, her piece was one the few artworks that was selected by the judges.

The book is part of the best-selling Spectrum series, which continued with this twenty-fourth lavishly produced annual. Challenging, controversial, educational, and irreverent, the award-winning Spectrum series reinforces both the importance and prevalence of fantastic art in today’s culture. With exceptional images by extraordinary creators, this elegant full-color collection showcases an international cadre of creators working in every style and medium, both traditional and digital. The best artists from the United States, Europe, China, Australia, South America and beyond were gathered into the only annual devoted exclusively to works of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and the surreal, making Spectrum one of the year’s highly most anticipated books. Rezaei’s artwork Sunset at the Dragon Breeder’s Castle was recognized by the judges as one of the best. These judges included Christian Alzmann, who has worked as an art director on numerous film projects including Star Wars, Star Trek, Pirates of Caribbean, and more.

“It is very important to have your work published as an artist, especially being published alongside among other famous artists. People who already know these artists see their artwork next to mine and they realize that my work is at the level of these other artists. Familiarity and notoriety are very important for an artist. They are a big part of how much work an artist gets and how much recognition they receive,” Rezaei advised.

There is little doubt that Rezaei is one of the world’s most talented contemporary artists right now. Be sure to check out the aforementioned books to get a glimpse into her extraordinary style.

 

Cover Image “Sunset at the Breeder’s Castle” by Tooba Rezaei, featured in Spectrum 24

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Art Director Hanna Petersson creates visual spectacle for Samsung

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Hanna Petersson

When Hanna Petersson sits down at her desk, ready to take on a new art project, she doesn’t simply decide what looks good. As an art director, an appealing design is only a small aspect of what makes her work extraordinary. She has to design everything with her client in mind, thinking of end goals and the brand’s message. It is much more than artistry, it is intelligence and savvy, and Petersson embodies all of those things. She is an extremely in demand art director, working with some of the world’s largest companies, and she has no plans on slowing down.

Throughout her esteemed career, Petersson’s artwork has created dynamic advertisements for large brands, most recently Häagen-Dazs, Canon, Pringles, and T.J. Maxx. Her talent has earned her the reputation as one of Sweden’s best art directors; she is known for her creative imagery, and her artwork captivates. Millions across the globe have seen her work and may not have even known it. This is exemplified when she took on a project for Samsung, one of the largest and most well-known companies in the world. Working with WorkShop in Stockholm, Petersson took on the visual development and concept illustrations for the Samsung retail experience, called Experience Zone, which was a three-month installation at the three largest train stations in Sweden; Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo. She worked on the concept development of these pop ups and also created imagery used in the pop up to drive foot traffic. The Experience Zones attracted more than 200,000 people that came to look at the new Samsung products and interact with them.

“Samsung is one of the leading technology companies in the world, because they are not afraid to test things that have never been done before and they really embrace innovation to bring their brand and products further. They are a joy to work with because they understand that in order to really create the best experiences with their products, they need to trust in the creatives who work on developing campaigns and promotions for them. This makes for a great client-creative relationship, which is a good recipe for success,” said Petersson.

Initially, Samsung was looking for a way to promote their new products for the Christmas season, and wanted to target the three largest cities in Sweden. When reaching out to WorkShop, a Swedish company that specializes in branding and marketing for large companies, WorkShop knew Petersson was the right person for the job. She and her team immediately began coming up with a wide range of ideas that involved different ways of creating activations around the products. During this whole process, Petersson would bring ideas and also add conceptual sketches that she would then show to Samsung. She would describe the ideas and to get approval by the client to continue with a certain direction of the ideas, and then she started producing a physical space that would be inviting to a passerby, causing them to engage with the Samsung products that would be on display.

“When the creative agency I worked at was going to start this project, I was a part of the concepting team who came up with what the project was going to look like and how it would be possible to execute. The work was a lot of fun and I got a chance to experiment with new ideas and to bring innovative solutions to the table. The project was a great opportunity to really see a project from start to finish and I wanted to be a part of that journey and to make sure that I did everything in my power to make the project as great as possible,” Petersson described.

When Samsung approached WorkShop about the project, they knew they wanted the best team possible to help promote their brand. At the time, Petersson had already worked on a number of projects at the agency, constantly impressing those she worked alongside with her talent for concepting and coming up with innovative ideas even under a tight deadline. When building the Samsung team, Workshop knew Petersson could not only bring great suggestions to the project but also that she is a joy to work with. She also had a skill for putting down concepts and ideas on paper as sketches and illustrations showing exactly what she and the other creatives were imagining, so they knew that she would be a very useful asset to have on the team from day one.

In the end, Petersson’s contributions to the Samsung Experience project were essential to its success. She came up with different activations, ideas and designs for the final product. She consistently had innovative ideas and also produced conceptual illustrations for the ideas showing designs and potential activations. These sketches were used to sell the ideas to Samsung and to make them a reality, by being the guidelines for how the pop up location was built and designed. As the project went live, Petersson also helped with creating new events and designs for the pop up locations, which helped to further bring more people into the Samsung space and to increase sales by making more people try out the products and engage with them in a creative and fun way. This drive once again impressed all she worked with.

“Hanna has worked with several of WorkShop’s clients, including Swedish Match, Samsung and Apoteksgruppen. For Samsung, she participated in the creative process of developing a setup for a pop-up concept that was later realized at the central stations in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo,” said Helena Hammar, Head of Projects & Consulting at WorkShop when Petersson was working with the company. “Hanna was a very valued employee and is solution-oriented, tremendously good at sketching, and has an ability to adapt to the missions at the same time as she has a personal creative expression. Her willingness and ability to take responsibility and to constantly evolve makes her very versatile and strong as a creative.”

Beyond colleagues, Samsung was extremely satisfied with Petersson’s work. Not only did she help increase their sales, she helped engage customers and the model was then carried to other countries. Petersson then worked on another project for Samsung, creating illustrations for maps that were used to engage visitors in different stations during the Winter Olympics. Evidently, Petersson is truly an exceptional art director, and she loves every minute of what she does.

“There was so much to enjoy from working with Samsung. Not only did I get to try out new ideas and see them become reality, but I also got a chance to work with some really nice collaborators and to work together to ensure the best possible end product. I very much enjoyed seeing a project through from first day until the end and all the work that went into making it a reality. It was a lot of hard work but it was all worth it and seeing different ideas going from a sketch on a paper to a produced design or activation was incredible. It was really proof of how an innovative idea that I came up with can become reality and actually create value for people and for Samsung,” she concluded.

 

Artist HuiMeng Wang shares vulnerability and understanding of the world with worldwide audiences

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Visual artist HuiMeng Wang

Born and raised in Inner Mongolia of China, HuiMeng Wang always had a passion for art. Her mother always had a deep appreciation in literature and the Chinese Opera. Growing up, she read nothing but fictions, and would always fantasize about bringing the narratives to reality, in one way or another. Despite this passion from an early age, Wang did not initially feel she was ready to explore being an artist. That patience is what sets her apart from so many. She studied science and engineering, travelled the world, experienced other cultures and immersed herself in life. It was during her travels that she realized she was ready to be an artist.

“I felt I had enough things to talk about and I felt this strong desire to talk about them. A diverse educational and cultural background has made me immensely conscious about the changes and formation of personal identities, during a socio- geographical, professional and/or cultural transition,” said Wang.

During her travels, Wang conducted a 4000-mile road trip in Tibet, photographing its landscape. She created a collection of the photographs, titled The Isolation Book, and it is one of her most remarkable pieces. On a plateau in the northeastern Himalaya, at an average elevation of 16,000 feet, Tibet enjoys great natural remoteness. Its extraordinary physical isolation is also reinforced by political complexity, Wang says. She drove through out the vastness of Tibet week after week, as an observer, as well as a bearer of the great isolation and loneliness.

“People’s state of mind can heavily change the visual perception of a landscape or cityscape. And in that sense, The Isolation Book is a metaphor of my personal struggles through isolation. When one is in isolation, or sometimes self-seclusion, the eagerness of engaging with the outside world always comes hand in hand with the resistance. Such conflict creates great intangible tension, which overrides the reality sometimes, and urgently needs to be described in a form of emotional resonance,” Wang described.

Wang’s initial interest in the project was to truly understand isolation. From the time she was a child, she always has felt more comfortable by herself than when surrounded by others, so she wanted to understand what it was to be truly alone.

“I wished I could understand the nature of isolation better, how it exerts influence and disguises itself. And that is why I picked up a camera initially,” said Wang.

Wang’s photography is extremely impactful for all those who see it. It is perfectly framed, shot, and edited, and with The Isolation Book, each picture is its own essay, worth far more than the usual “1000 words” mantra.

“HuiMeng is a natural photographer capable of composing visual poetry from any scene. Her intellect is stunning. her insight is incisive and her sensitivity is sublime. she is complex and profoundly complex. She is a dream to work with,” said Lonnie Graham, who has worked alongside Wang on various photography projects. “Her uncanny ability to understand a situation and interpret it makes her outstanding. This is what she does with her image making, so that as an installation artist her concepts become dimensional.”

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HuiMeng Wang in Fire Green as Grass

Many around the world know Wang for her outstanding artistic abilities. They know her celebrated work, and the exceptional understanding she possesses of her craft. She is more than just an artist, she is a creator and a storyteller. Just last year, she dined by herself on a suspended table for one hour. While trying to cut and eat a 16oz steak, she had to carefully maintain the balance of the table, and put out the fire which the flowers constantly caught from the candles. Titled Fire Green as Grass, the piece interprets the mental state of an immigrant, displaced and isolated often, for whom conducting daily activities becomes a struggle in itself.

“The title came from Dylan Thomas’s poem Fern Hill. I lived in a place that’s also called Fern Hill in New Zealand for a while. It was the most surreal and beautiful place, but I was also incredibly alone,” said Wang.

Wang normally acts more as a director in her pieces than performer. However she felt the need to perform herself for this piece to truly convey the message.

“I thought I’d be embarrassed to perform in front of the audience. But when I did, even though there were a lot of people watching and the flowers were constantly on fire, I felt peaceful. I also felt like I was saying the things I wanted to say,” Wang described.

Wang’s vulnerability in Fire Green as Grass captivated audiences and critics alike. A fellow artist and friend, Jeremy Morgan, says that Wang has an ability to do this with every project she takes on, whether it be a video, photograph, or exhibition.

“Our conversations have always been a meaningful, creative journey, metaphysically moving from one space to another. HuiMeng has a luminous mind, and is self- possessed but without arrogance. Her generosity and original spirit permeate all of her interactions with people around her. In her performance and filmic work, she displays a poetic, philosophic and socio-political sensibility that is noteworthy wherein beauty, elegance and poignancy are perfectly balanced with precision, focused with intelligence and humanity. She is in every sense a creative being, an artist who is both unique and a powerful presence,” said Morgan.

With such a commitment to her craft and respect around the world for what she does, it is obvious to all that sees her work as to why Wang is considered one of China’s best recent visual artists. Not many can achieve what she has, and she still has so much left still to show the world. However, she does have advice for those looking to follow in her footsteps.

“It sounds silly, but my advice is make absolutely sure that you really want to be an artist before you commit. You don’t want to be an artist because of flexible schedules or some certain lifestyle or things like that. You want to be an artist because you cannot imagine yourself doing anything else. You want art to be the center of your life,” she said. “Also, some wise man said: make work, faster. That is my second piece of advice. Always make work, don’t pause for too long.”