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Alireza Goldouzian, the illustrator who went from reluctant to renowned!

TUTI Books’ interview with Alireza Goldouzian; Hans Christian Andersen Award 2024 Nominee

Where were you born?

I was born in Tehran.

How did you become interested in art and illustration?

At first, I disliked picture book illustrating very much, because I felt like it was pointless. I had to create lots of frames for the book, and I didn’t have the patience for repetition. Since I always liked variety, I kept thinking that I had to repeat the same frame with the same characters, actions, colors, and compositions repeatedly, just repeating and repeating… Then, at some point, I felt like my mood changed, my temper changed. And then I started to enjoy it. I looked at illustration books and followed famous illustrators. I liked it at said ‘Let me give it a try,’ and that’s when I started doing those things and the result is what you see from me now.

How many books have you illustrated?

I guess more than 150 or 160…

How do you describe “The Pomegranate Girl” in a few words?

The Pomegranate Girl” was the only book that came to me during one of the worst, and perhaps then the best, times of my life. It was the book I was working on when my mother passed away, and I had illustrated a few frames for it. After my mother’s passing, I couldn’t work for a year. Then Mrs. Sahar Tarhandeh (TUTI Books’ director) said: “We are fine… hand over the work whenever you feel like, and considering the circumstances, Fatemi Publication (TUTI Books) stood by me so patiently and kindly in this project…

Because I felt a commitment to myself that I shouldn’t let my sorrow and sadness into the work. As a result, it took me a year to get back to the frames I had worked on, get back to the same mood, and resume the very same thing and it was too difficult for me, too challenging.

Because my mood had changed, and so did my personality, and I had become a different person. Meaning, that my life is divided into two parts: before my mother’s death and after my mother’s death. It was as if a new person had done the rest of the work, and practically I didn’t know how it would turn out because I didn’t have the same mindset, many things had lost their appeal to me, and many things had become more serious for me, and that is why my mood had changed.

I found the idea of “The Pomegranate Girl” very interesting, and Ahmad Akbarpour’s rewriting was excellent. The atmosphere of “The Pomegranate Girl” was appealing to me, the circumstances, the fact that it had turned into a new setting and new actions, and in short, it had turned a simple story into a story that could now be read, narrated, and illustrated, and overall, it was witty and delightful and I liked the ambiance.

What do you think about TUTI Books?

In my opinion, (of course, with all due respect to other publishers who are making the same efforts) TUTI Books’ performance is so powerful, representing excellent books in terms of content and is incredibly professional which I truly think is commendable.

What do you wish for Iranian children and young adults?

My wish for our children and youth is that TUTI Books and other publishers with the same standards are not so scarce. I hope to live in a society where hundreds of publishers work parallel to those who claim to be active in Europe and America. Our publishers should be able to compete, and we should be able to illustrate any book we are asked without worrying about the result or the outcome, how it will be presented, or whether it will even be published. Sometimes, this happens when dealing with other publishers, or some publishers in Iran have shown irresponsibility. I wish for children to have access to good books from such publishers and for there to be not just one but a hundred, thousands, thousands of TUTI Books…

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