Influenced by surrealism, the graphic designer and art director Morteza Vaseghi remembers his childhood emblazoned with memories of Magritte, Dali and Klarwein while Pink Floyd was playing in the background. It is an influence that has carried on into his working life, following him around Tehran, where he grew up, London, where he studied and Oslo, where he now resides. As a result, his work hints to dreamlike scenes and abstract forms, which are then designed and art directed into coherent works of conceptual graphic design.
As a student at UAL’s London College of Communication, Morteza expressed an obsession to “push an art notion within a graphic design context.” He tells It’s Nice That, “there were moments when my teacher, the late Paul Bowman told me: ‘I’m not sure whether this is genius or terrible, but take my uncertainty as a compliment. Time will tell’.” Since then, Morteza has moved to Oslo which proved a challenge at first. Surrounded by a design scene dominated by a “minimal Scandinavian notion”, Morteza found that his “experimental, London-influenced approach” to design was somewhat rejected.
However when he met the then-14 year old Elise By Olsen (one of It’s Nice That Ones to Watch 2018), he found a visionary partner that shared in his design ideals. “To partner up with a 14-year-old seemed to be a very risky move,” he adds on their meeting, “but almost straight after meeting her, I could see the drive, professionalism and ambition that she operated with.” In turn, Morteza became the art director and designer of Recens Paper; a publication founded by Elise. He further comments: “Working with Elise was like going back to my roots in terms of bringing the best out of me and my practice and applying that to a project that then became a global success.”
With regards to Recens Paper, Morteza aims to “challenge the perception of the typical youth magazine.” After researching the sector, distinguishing what was popular in that area of the magazine industry, Morteza decided to take Recens in the opposite direction, rather than follow the tropes of the time. On the design, Morteza explains, “With Recens’ iconic upside-down covers, illegible font variations, non-traditional rotations, crops of imagery and ad-warning-borders, I translated the rebellious nature of teenagers into a print format.”
Morteza also designs and art directs Elise By Olsen’s Wallet, creates bi-monthly artworks for his brother Kasra V’s NTS radio show and was also commissioned to design the visual identity for the National Museum of Norway’s latest exhibition, Faithless Pictures. While he is lucky enough to treat the ongoing work for his brother as “a playground”, covering all printed paraphernalia from gig posters to vinyl releases, in general, Morteza approaches every project with a systematic design process that is steeped in research. By contrast, he is currently going through a shift in finding art direction and creative direction more appealing that graphic design, remarking that the main challenge ahead which lies ahead is: “I’m a control freak, and I like to do all the little design features myself too.”
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