As a writer who did this small bonbon of a book for a certain kind of reader in a certain kind of mood, and being at the Pasadena Library for Author’s Night, one patron who purchased Dust Unto Shadow was the ever-smiling Golareh Safarian. She’s also a writer and beautiful inside and out and children flocked to her table and many of them sat on her lap.
After that night, I had an idea to interview 3 creative women who are doing something I find exciting. I’d interview them for my Blog and showcase their talents. Today I’m starting with her, artist Golareh Safarian.
Q-You wrote Gogi & Mogi go to the Garden. As an artist and pop theorist; people want to hear what you have to say about modern culture. But let’s start with the book. What made you want to write a children’s book with off-beat or dare I say with geeky characters?
A- I guess it all goes back to what inspires me as an artist. Our world is full of beautiful and fantastic things. Incredibly intricate animals, fabulous flowers, majestic trees, massive mountain ranges, magical forests, mysterious seas-our world has it all. As children we see this and don’t hesitate to be amazed by the beauty that surrounds us. But as adults we take it for granted. We don’t see anymore. Maybe the realities of our daily routines are too much and finding the time to “smell the roses” is something we laugh at cynically. But I believe we can all benefit from a reminder now and then. A reminder of how special our Earth is, and how lucky we are to live in it. I guess that’s why I wrote Gogi & Mogi. I wanted to force myself to see the world through a child’s eyes again and while doing that offer a story that was colorful and artistic, but also informative and educational.
Q-Do children find it amusing?
A- Yeah. Different kids connect with it differently. Some laugh at Gogi’s wild pink hair, others like the eyes on the ladybug, others giggle at Mogi’s fear of spiders, so it really depends on the child, but they all connect with the colors.
Q-Tell us the storyline. What does the protagonist want?
A- At its core, the story is one of friendship and problem-solving. It’s Mogi’s birthday and he’s having a costume party. He invites his best friend Gogi to his party, but she doesn’t have a costume to wear. Together Gogi and Mogi go to a colorful garden in search of inspiration. There they meet and learn about fascinating creatures and imagine what a costume inspired by each creature would look like. In the end, Gogi finds her inspiration, and the two friends set out to look for the material needed to make the costume.
Q- The book is visually appealing to look at. Ordinarily, in children’s books you either assume a role as writer or as illustrator. But you have merged a tale and your pouring a lot of energy into art.
A- The book and the art are one and the same. I never looked at the book as a separation from my art. I guess since I was writing it and illustrating it, it felt united.
Q- You seem to be a color theorist, what are you drawn to visually? What medium do you predominately work with?
A- It’s a funny story actually. I have very bad eyesight. I’m extremely nearsighted, like a negative 8.5 in each eye. Growing up, I didn’t know I had a bad eyesight until I was about 10 years old, so pretty much all my memory of my childhood and early elementary years is blurry. I remember the day I got my first glasses. I was like, ‘wait a minute, y’all have been seeing the world like this?’ I think that was the day I fell in love with colors. Imagine spending the first decade of your life behind a dirty window and then one day someone shows up with a towel and some Windex and cleans it all up. It was shocking. Like a gift really. And I promised myself I would never take it for granted. So I learned about colors and how the human eye registers each shade. In no way am I an expert, but from what I understand, our ability to see colors comes from three types of cells in our eyes called cones. Each of these cells registers light at different wavelengths and sends a message to the brain which in turn makes us see different shades and hues. Each of these cones is believed to register about a hundred shades, so all three cones combined can register a million colors. Now, some researchers believe that there are those amongst us who have four cones, instead of three. That means they can see 100 to the power of four, or one hundred million colors! They can see colors and shades that we don’t even have names for! This is who I try to tap into when I paint with colors. Someone who has trichromatic vision can suddenly become a tetrachromat. Similar to that day when I went from seeing blurry to seeing sharply. It’s especially fun when painting with fluid acrylics because of the way the paints mix, or don’t mix, with each other and the density of their pigments which you can change with different mediums. I love it. I lose track of time when I’m painting with fluid acrylics. I can spend hours in the studio.
Q-Thanks for the scientific education on color. Do you have a long history of painting? And did you go to art school? Did your reputation as an artist help you become an established writer?
A-I always loved art but had a bad experience in elementary school and was convinced I couldn’t draw or paint to save my life. In fact, I didn’t paint anything until I was 29 years old. I didn’t go to art school, but as I grew older, my desire to paint grew stronger. So one day I finally gave in, bought a canvas, some oil and a cheap set of brushes and decided to copy a Kandinsky. I sucked, but not as badly as I had thought, so I tried again, this time with Picasso’s Friendship. I started to notice how the different paint worked with different brushes and how the addition of black or white changed the behavior of the color. I saw this ad for Calvin Klein’s Eternity in a magazine and decided to create my own interpretation of it. I knew it wasn’t a masterpiece, but I had created my own version of something, and that was so fun. By then, I was addicted. Slowly I learned how to put my emotion into the brushstrokes, how to connect with the subject and how to show restrain, or go beyond what my mind saw.
As for my reputation as an artist and becoming an established writer, it’s all relative. Success is a very subjective term. All I can say is that the work is far from done, but I am very happy to live a creative life and that is success in itself.
Q- More people ought to acknowledge the creative spark that’s in them. You obviously pay it homage, but you also have integrated it as a design business that you label as geeky? What was the inspiration behind that?A- I’m a nerd. I like being a nerd. I like comic books, and science-y things, and learning about metaphysics-even though I don’t understand most of it- and anatomy and astronomy and geology and geography and history. I also like art. So I wanted to create a design company that combined the two, a balanced mixture of arts and science-well maybe more arts than science, but at least the arts were inspired by science.
My previous work experience was in production and television entertainment and marketing. I had already launched MindTripz Inc. in early 2016, a media and entertainment agency that is aligned with my work experience and allows me to have a lot of fun working with amazingly talented individuals and former colleagues. But I wanted to launch a design company. Something scalable that offered various collections and served numerous demographics. So I launched Gogimogi, The Artistically Geeky Design House, in December of 2016 and I’m thrilled to see that in just one year we’ve developed a children’s t-shirt line, a children’s book, two wall-art collections, and an original paintings collection. We’re also finalizing the details on a number of new products that we’ll be announcing shortly, so I’m very excited.
Q- Would it offend you to say that your multidisciplinary activity makes others head spin? How do you manage to do so much?
A- Haha! I’m not offended at all! You’re being too kind. I don’t know. I guess I don’t really think of it as work. I get to design, and paint, and write, and imagine the growth of my businesses, and connect with amazing people, so it really is a wonderful way living. I do wish there were more hours in a day though. Sometimes, I could really use an extra 12 hours.
Q- You mentioned the sciences and metaphysics. Are there deeper connections between your art and your message?
A- I do believe that we create the world we live in. So, if we give into our pessimistic selves, then negativity tends to rule, but if we manage to stay optimistic and positive, then we can focus our energy on the good that surrounds us and invite more of that into our lives. This is a bit of a paradox. We’ve all had bad things happen to us and when these things happen, it’s very hard to stay positive and think of more rosy days, but if we don’t, then more bad things happen because we’ve focused on the negative. It’s a cosmic joke, really. In my art, or at least in my original paintings, I try to capture this inner battle between our optimist and our pessimist. This is mostly absent in my art for kids though.
Q- That’s a good attitude to go through life with. Certainly children are optimists and master being in the moment. Tell us about your personal life; are you around children all the time? How do they relate to you?
A- I don’t have any kids of my own, but I live with my sister Victoria and my niece Jasmine. She is the Jazzy Jazz-Jazz to whom my book is dedicated. She’s my muse. She makes everything better. Her jokes, her curiosity, her imagination, her outlook, they’re all sources of inspiration. I love every minute that I spend with her.
Q- Being young, I’ll use your authority on this next question; How would you compare today’s millennial culture to children? Do kids feel differently about art?
A- I think the millennial generation and the post-millennial generation-I believe they’re calling them iGen or GenZ-anyway, both the millennial and post-millennial generations are, in my opinion, very aware. They are post Digital-Revolution generations with Google search in their pockets. I mean, have you tried explaining to a GenZ what searching for a book in a library back in 1991 was like? It’s a totally foreign concept to them. Having access to the entire history of art, or any subject for that matter, with just a few keystrokes, is bound to make learning more accessible. But you also have a ton of unaccredited sources out there. So, does the internet make you more educated? It can, but you now need to worry about real vs. fake, which I guess can lead to awareness if you at least acknowledge that there are fake stuff out there. And then there is social media. Visual platforms like Instagram are forcing these generations to express themselves visually. There is a direct correlation between your popularity and the art you produce. This is bound to have sociological and psychological ramifications that we won’t understand for years to come. Some will be good, and some, probably not so good. But it’s all part of our evolution. As for the discipline of art itself, the future is wonderful. The combination of traditional mediums with new creative software has led to a new breed of visual artist, and the increase in distribution power has made the playing ground far more competitive. So we’re all pushing each other to be better, more creative, more bold. It’s really exciting.
Q- Does it surprise you that your first book has worked its way, essentially, into the hearts and minds of children?
A- Ultimately, that’s the most tangible reward. The realization that something I thought of and created, something that didn’t exist until I made it, is being enjoyed by another human being, is unbelievable. You should all try it!
Q- What is the best and worst part of painting?
A- The best part of painting is painting itself. It’s therapeutic and intimate and revealing, all at the same time. The worst part is self-criticism. As any artist will agree, self-doubt often leads to self-censorship which murders the creative process. So you almost have to stop thinking when you’re painting. I guess that’s why I find it meditative. But it’s all easier said than done, and I don’t always succeed. I’ve had pieces that were completely finished that I’ve scrapped, and painted over.
Q- As part of My Creatives, I have to ask- what is your reason for creating?
A- It’s simple and a bit of a cliché, but honestly, I create, therefore I am.
Q- Wonderful Zen response. Anything else you’d like to add?
A- I just want to thank you for taking the time to get to know me and my art. It’s been a pleasure!
Q- Indeed. How can kids, parents and art patrons get a hold of you?
A- Gogi & Mogi Go To The Garden is available on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com. It is also part of Gogimogi’s collection, so you can learn about the art featured in the book and our other collections here. Follow Gogimogi on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and Etsy. Follow me on Goodreads Instagram and Twitter