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Fereshteh Najafi

Fereshteh Najafi is a versatile artist who works in a wide range of colors and details. She focuses on her unique style. She is known for her illustrations which have been described as imaginative and evocative. She was born in Iran in 1974 and has a bachelors in graphic design and masters in illustration from Tehran Art University. Freshteh has illustrated more than 20 books for children with several publishers around the world. She published 3 books which were written and illustrated by her. She has received numerous international awards .

The magic of colors and mystic world of fantasy and dreams made me become a children›s book illustrator; Potent force that I knew since childhood and is still with me. When I was 8 or 9 years old most of my times passed with painting and making crafts. One of my interests that then it became a problem, was that I made puppets and every day invented a story in my dreams and in the morning, before the class starts, I performed for my classmates. That potent force that brought me to the world of fantasy and dream of my childhood which there I was playing for hours with colors, lines and forms, now after going to college was stronger and more powerful and had more passion for knowledge and creates new experiences for me. After graduating, I did art direction and graphic design of many books and magazines. Enormous workload didn’t let me have enough time to write my stories and illustrate. In 2008 I decided to leave Iran to find new experiences. This was not an easy decision, but something inside me took me to discover new horizons. From this year onward I stopped graphics work and began writing and illustrating my stories. For years I was thinking to a story, a little painter girl who approaches the city of demons with a message of peace and friendship. For years, in this city poet demons didn’t write poems, hunting bird and have rooms full of jailed birds and the ruler of city has a long nose like Pinocchio›s. Although I had already illustrated the book, did new illustrations for the story after going to Italy, and an Italian publisher published the book. This was the beginning of my professional career abroad. My next book was a story about Iranian adage «practice makes perfect filling» and the story of Bahram -e- Goor Kingdom which published in French in 2009. During living in Italy, I worked on many books with publishers from Italy, France, the United Arabic Emirates, South Africa, Lebanon and Brazil. I met many international illustrators. Illustration Exhibitions, especially Bologna Exhibition, and various programs and new books which are published every year, meetings and dialogues, all were very effective in my life and work.

One thing I like, collecting and drying plants in every area and use them in a different way or different concept in my illustrations. At the start of each work new exploratory to achieve harmony with the colors and forms is very interesting to me and affects me. I spend many hours to search and find my characters and I get a lot of ideas for designing spaces from my surroundings, but everything passes from the filter of my look and design style and becomes a new mode of expression. More than being faithful to the text, I like to add more things to my illustrations that are not in the story, but they’re interesting to the reader and would be figured out in the image. When I find my color palette, my characters and sketches are prepared. Everything is very enjoyable like a childish game and well put together with good energy and acts as a meditation. I believe that I convey my energy with my work and colors to audiences.
In 2015, with an invitation of Positivo, a Brazilian publisher, I went to Brazil for a workshop in Sao Paulo and the ceremony for the book «Pe And The Wide World». There I met international illustrators like Nelson Cruz, Marilda Castanha, Andre Neves, Mauricio Negro, and Rogerio Coehlo. Then in 2016 came to Brazil to collaborate on an illustration project and now I live in Brazil in Curitiba and work with several publishers as well as the development and exchange of cultural projects. This beautiful city in any season is always full of trees with colorful flowers and birds that their song is heard at all hours of the day, and for me is very impressive and inspired a workshop with the theme of The Conference of the bird which was held in Curitiba and was highly regarded.
Years of living in Italy and Brazil has a great influence on the formation of my work. Meeting artists and living in new conditions that come with bittersweet moments have been an important part of my life over these years. Conditions combined with historical and cultural roots of my country lead to creating works that today goes to different parts of the world. It is a pleasure and honor for me that I bring children and audience of my work to the world of dreams. Where they can make their dreams become reality.