Farshid Shafiee

Farshid Shafiee was born in Tehran in 1969, and is among’s best known picture book illustrators. He studied graphic design and animation in his home city, and has worked as an editor and art director for various magazines and publishers. His work comprises more than fifty picture books for children, over thirty book covers and four short film animations. His film »My Dad’s Car« (2000) was awarded the special prize by the International Festival for Animation in Tehran (2001).

Farshid Shafiee’s works are a passionate tribute to his Persian roots: »I am trying to be a very small part of the rich culture and history of my country which has lived more than 11.000 years so far«, the artist said. Traditional myths and legends are as much the subject of his illustrations as are fairytale stories by contemporary Iranian writers. Stories concerning the every day lives of children in present-day Iran are also prominent among the author’s choice of topics. Shafiee brilliantly fuses pictorial traditions from the Middle East with modern aesthetic impulses and innovative designs, turning picture books into works of art. Using warm colours and poetic elegance, Shafiee brings existential themes such as love, freedom and happiness to life. While he tells the story of »Farshid« (2003; by Mahdot Kashkuli) through computer graphics and the boy’s daily life through black outlines and earth tones, he showers many of his stories with gouache and acrylic paint in flowing forms and colourful pictures. At times his illustrations are like mystically shadowy settings, and at times the page explodes with a panorama of colours. »Shahrzâd« (2002) is one such book. In this version of »One Thousand and One Nights« – by Faridah Khal’atbaris – the hate-filled ruler Shah Kondshed is unable to silence the storyteller, even by turning her into a bird of stone. Shafiee’s pictorial compositions do not follow a strict linear structure, and his figures, shadows and lettering fluidly merge with each other. His masterly work was awarded the Runner-Up Award by the 13th Noma Concours (2002). When explaining his method the illustrator commented that »all my characters, places, style and materials are different from one story to another. I try to hear the music which comes from each story.« Farshid Shafiee’s many prize-winning works include the picture book »Peiwand« (2006), for which he was awarded the Golden Apple by the 21st Biennial for Illustration in Bratislava. His drawings have been showcased worldwide in many countries, including China, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Croatia and Slovakia. The artist lives with his family in Tehran.

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