Negin Ehtesabian (Neginete)
Contemporary artist, illustrator, and designer
born and raised in Tehran/ Iran
Lived and worked in Iran, Great Britain, and the United Arab Emirates
BA in Visual Communication from the University of
Tehran (Fine art faculty)
Animation at the University of the West of England
(UWE), Bristol, UK
A member of the American art community Techspressionism since 2020 and a member
of the Iranian Illustrators society since2005
Has been a member of AOI (UK Association of illustrators) and IGDS (Iranian graphic designers society)
My generation was born after the Iranian Islamic revolution, growing up with everyday news about war, political prisoners, and executions, along with so many new strict rules in the country, while it was also a wartime struggle with shortages and sanctions and periods of bombarding time and hiding in the basements, leaving so many stressed-out adults who had such a big regret and anger of so many lost in their lives and didn't have much hope for the future.
As a generation who never lived any other way, that all seemed pretty normal to us, and having two-sided lives was something we knew as a normal lifestyle: one in public, concerned by so many strict rules, and then in private where you could enjoy whatever you liked: music or movies or books and art, having mixed-sex parties and dance and drink, owning musical instruments, video player or play cards, listening to female voice singing, and of course for women to wear whatever they liked and not o cover all over their bodies. And then to us, this fact seemed so obvious that all this private life only must be shared with trusted people/ the right ones.
Then to us, it was also a normal lifestyle witnessing our parents always being a bit worried about getting accused or arrested for anything simple or routine in daily life, for example, something they said in a wrong place or wrote or the books or artworks or the music or movies they kept, for their outfit, or getting caught at a party or being alone with a friend of the opposite sex, the radio station they listen to, or even for their kids making a mistake and share some information with the wrong person.
So we grown-up adapting that fear as a normal part of our daily life, learning what exactly we should hide from strangers, and what we could be open about with trusted people. So, there was this very important matter of always knowing that who is trusted and who is a stranger, and for us, it was sometimes really confusing because the stranger might have been a teacher or a schoolmate whom you were actually spending a lot of time with every day, and suddenly a trusted person could have been someone you met for the first time! It was then necessary to know about people’s background or could be able to guess that based on common sense and experiences. I believe this paradoxical complicated social life and having the fear of dealing with the wrong person, made me so curious about different aspects of human connections and psycology and to become interested in human science and literature from a very young age. Even my paintings as a kid was about the stories they were sharing with others, trying to find that very common shared point and understanding, rather than making a beautiful piece of handcraft.
Moreover, later as an artist, still, the main subject of my works were different aspects of human psychology and the connection between different beings, either if it is between two people or culture or regards to environment and society; I also got involved in some social activism and charity works in environmental, women and children rights and social matters.
My art practice now mostly explores the human condition and how we relate to one another based on our lived experience, our life stories, and our resulting sense and sensibilities. For me, the most important thing in art practice is that connection and interpretation happening between the artist and the artwork, and the artwork and the audience.
Especially that space, the world among the artwork and the audience that is being created independently from the artist, that meaning that is being understood and communicates; and whatever happens in that space, and how much it shares, is the aim of the artwork and is more important than the result itself.
I want to know how strong this communication between different worlds happens through art, and how much we could hope for understanding each other with the language of art as human beings.
From different backgrounds and cultures, from different sex and generations, there must be some key parts that connect us so strongly and makes us able to understand each others' stories.
So, it also led me to start some studies on art therapy as a scientific approach to art or try to translate sensations and music into visual language, trying to understand this shared language.
I love literature and stories, which could be historical and real, or symbolic, fantasy and mythical, but they all connect us in the same way, and they come from very old patterns of human psychology and archetypes. Sometimes I like to take a critical view of a social, cultural, or political issue and sometimes I just want to share and experience a story/ a shared sensation.
On the other hand, I am interested in communication between artists and how collaboration with different artists provides new possibilities to learn and experience in various fields of practice or cultural context, as finding this mutual language has been always a big part of my practice as a visual artist.
I also illustrate for picture books, design modern pictorial rugs, paint murals, and experience sticker-based street art and have several published critics on illustration and culture in Iranian art magazines.
I have some experience in leading workshops, children's art class, art directing for magazines, Concept and character design for animation, stage and accessory design for children's theater, performance video art, writing short stories for adults, and a graphic novel for young adults and 3 children books; also curating an art exhibition.
Between 2008-2012 I have participated in the group Intercultural collaborative new media art projects "IRUS art" and “My Night/Your Day” between Iranian and American artists working with Morehshin Allahyari and her co-founders and led the Iranian teams through several collaborative exhibitions in the USA and Canada.
2016 -*honorary mentioned for one of the three best illustrators in the last 40 years of Iranian
picture books, The Center for Literature Studies, University of Shiraz, Iran
2014 & 18 *The Little Black Fish prize, Children Book Council of Iran (CBC/ Iran IBBY)
2013 *Awarded the third prize in graphic art in the 30th International Fajr Theater Festival
2007 *The Plaque of the 44th Golden Pen of Belgrade
*The second prize of the second Art Biennial of Islamic Countries, Imam Ali Museum,
2004 *The Encouragement Prize of Noma Concurs, UNESCO awards, Japan
2004 & 5 *Awarded in the 6th and 11th Children Books and Press Festival of The Institute for
the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, for illustration and graphic design