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Meet the Iranian Multidisciplinary Artist Inspired by Contradictions

Iranian artist Hushidar Mortezaie was born in Tehran and immigrated to the San Francisco’s Bay Area in 1975. Expressing himself through various mediums, including illustration, painting, installation art, fashion design and silkscreen, his discourse is a cultural critique that negates yet celebrates notions of branding and marketing. We talked with the multidisciplinary artist about inspiration, movement and Iran as a constant muse.

1) Where are you originally from?
I was born in Tehran, Iran but I grew up in the bohemian suburbs of the California Bay Area. I was “raised” in the club culture of 90s NYC.

2) When did you start making bags/clothing/designs? I started designing in 1990 as I was graduating high school in northern California and starting at UC Berkeley for Fine Arts. I met my design and business partner Michael Sears in  the underground club scene in San Francisco, a self taught couturier and artist. Both our Pop Art influences fueled our collaborative earlier designs in the guise of performance art as fashion.We then moved to NYC and I became a buyer and boutique curator for Patricia Field and opened my own subsequent east village shop,Sears and Robot, a pop pun on American retail corporations. Both experiences helped influence the Rave and Japanese Anime phenomenon in the U.S. and abroad in the early to late nineties.

3) What are you primarily inspired by? I often find inspiration in my discourse with my Iranian heritage living in the media culture of the west but pop, artifice, and tradition are things that weave throughout much of my work. Packaging and romanticism,activism and stereotype, camp and modernity. I suppose contradictory realities often make sense in my mind…usually slanted toward a glamorous and fearless aesthetic. A childlike sense of imagination and humor with some social critique finds it’s way  in my designs.

4) What is your background? Did you study fashion?
My background is in fine arts but I am pretty self taught..mostly through my experience working in high fashion and art direction.Fashion has been an artistic medium that I express myself through..either inspired by it through illustration and collage or the actual creation of garments and accessories.

5) What are your fashion inspirations (in the Arab World)?
Iranian youth who express individuality through style, indigenous nomadic cultures who carry forth their century long traditions ,everyday items in giftshop souvenirs that appeal to tourists.Carpets and candy, Persian miniatures and defiant revolutionaries, literary greats like Sadegh Hedayat and the ornate children’s book illustrations of Ali Akbar Sadeghi, definitely Googoosh. No one has come close to her as a fashion icon in the 70s. Originally coming from the Middle East, fashion often is viewed with a political slant through a western lens, I hold a mirror up to preconceived tropes and use it as armor.

6) Who are your favorite designers (in the Arab World)?
Azzedine Alaia originally from Tunisia, Keyvan Khosrovani from Iran…I love how neither followed any specific set of rules and simply created on their own terms. I also love the work of the Iranian artist Bahman Mohasses. I am very inspired by the graphic designers of 60s and 70s Iran..many unsung  heroes who simply created incredible graphic works I discovered in the legacy of periodicals and books in my father’s library.
For more information: Peruse Hushidar’s collection of items for sale on the underground retailer site Alangoo, here.

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