Mahnaz Yazdani is a very inspiring Iranian cartoonist and animator. Her artworks convey humour, tenderness, empathy and also her unique life poetic touch. She shares some lines of her empowering story for anyone who wants to authentically bring love and beauty into the world. Discover her heartening interview and her artworks.
I like to tell my thoughts in a funny way and as short as possible.
Mahnaz, can you introduce yourself in your own words and share some lines about your story?
I was born 40 years ago in Isfahan, Iran. My childhood is not my life’s favourite part. I was impatient to grow and get old enough to be able to control my own life. However, that period gave me a deep knowledge of how pain, sorrow, fear and inequality feel like. It gave me sharp eyes to identify them and be empathetic with people who experience those feelings. This is the main power of my art process.
As a child, I felt deep love for animals, and I have been having many pets ever since. I loved watching cartoons and painting, and I wanted to be a big painter like Leonardo da Vinci; but I had not the chance to attend any art course until I was 18 years. I have never stopped making art after that. I married when I was 21 years with an animator, and he has helped me a lot in my art career during those years.
What lead you to draw cartoons and press cartoons?
In my early childhood, I liked to draw but my love for it decreased when I went to school. Our art teachers asked us to draw from a picture and never cared about our own thoughts and imaginations to be drawn. I liked drawing but not what I was asked to draw.
When I was 18 years old, I attended an Iranian painting (miniature) course, but there I was not allowed to draw my thoughts too. So, I dropped from that course and attended a cartoon course; and then it was exactly what I was looking for. It was all about drawing your thoughts and feelings, and I had lots of thoughts to draw. While I was trying to learn drawing cartoons, I attended an animation course too and I found it so amazing. Those were the best art forms for me to share what I was feeling. Then I became an animator and cartoonist.
You also make short films, can you tell us more about it? What is your very last project?
I started working as an animator when I was 20 years old. During the first ten years, I took part in producing many TV series and short films as an animator, character designer, writer and storyboard designer. In the following ten years, I decided to direct my own animations. I went to an art university to study animation academically and I got my master of animation. I wrote and directed some short animations, music videos and commercials, and a TV series during this period.
I like to tell my thoughts in a funny way and as short as possible. This is what I do through my cartoons. Most of my animations video are very short. The shortest one is 47 seconds length. Now, I am thinking about making 15 seconds-animations too.
Do you feel that unique and short formats are more effective to reach people?
Let me add humour to the characteristics of my artworks. They convey a short, unique and humorous message. It is what I like to do. I spend lots of time in the first step of the creative process to find such an idea, then I write it as a short story. Only after that I decide which art form – cartoon, comic or animation – can express that story in the best way. The right choice can increase its chance to become viral. A short humorous content has more chance to be shared on social medias and thus reach and impact more people too.
Do not forget that you are beautiful, worthful and loveable.
Can you share with us what is your most inspiring quote, book and piece of art?
There is a big cloud of inspiring words, experiences and artworks in my mind; but I think the most important inspiration in my mind tells me that I should love myself and find peace in my soul. It was a big problem for me until three years ago because I was so bad at it. Most of my life, I have been struggling with myself trying to resolve my deep conflicts, get away from old pains and feel free. Three years ago, I read “Women Who Run with the Wolves” written by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes and it opened my eyes about the essence of my pains.
I think the most influencing quote for me is: do not forget that you are beautiful, worthful and loveable. You deserve to love and be loved. You are able to dream and try to reach your dreams. Forgive yourself and your lacks to give the chance to your soul to grow, feel alive, create and bring love and beauty to the world.
I want to mention artists who inspired me so much like cartoonist Quino and Yuriy Kuzubukin, Pete Docter’s ideas and animations, the novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Charlie Chaplin’s comedies. Their art talk about human deep feelings, mostly their pains and sorrows, social inequalities, what is life and how loneliness feels, loving nature and other creatures. These are the main foundational concepts of most of my artworks too.