Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?

My name is Afshin Sabouki; I was born in Shiraz, a cultural_ historical city in Iran (Persia). When I was 19 I moved to capital city in order to educate in Art. I held a BA in painting from faculty of fine arts Tehran university in1992.During the education, I used to draw illustrations and cartoons for press and I hired by a popular news agency (Hamshahri Newspaper) as a first degree graphic designer after I finished education. We were 6 artists in the graphic department, every one was talented and there was a competitive, friendly atmosphere. We had also a daily cartoon column that we used to draw some political and social cartoon for it. In fact it was a good opportunity for me to learn there how to create ideas and draw fast in a very short time! I worked for some animation companies simultaneously. I cooperated as character designer and animator in some projects. I also worked as a freelance animator and in some cases as a producer in order to produce some TV commercials.

How do you go about designing a character, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?

As a character designer, I try to imagine a real and reasonable personality for my characters. I usually guess how their routine life could be and how this routine might be changed by phenomena, both of them absolutely will affect character's designing. In addition we should notice to some different layers of its personality. The next important aspect is general graphic of the concept, it directly turns to main idea and it includes every thing related to characters. In the most cases directors have a picture of the graphic and they grow it through consulting with designers and assistants. A professional character designer can reconcile director requirements with his/ her ideal designing. So I start with opening a file for each character and research for information and data for it in order to get a revelation.

What do you think really helps you out in designing a character?

Well, I have experience in different fields, painting, illustration, drawing cartoon and caricature and animation. And their specialties can relate in some cases, I enjoy mixing them!

From your own experience and maybe from some people that you know, what should we put in our portfolio and what should we not?

Some people think that, to be successful, they have to put some famous style drawings in their portfolios. This is a good idea, but, our different experiences in drawing that shows best angles of our abilities can help clients and directors to find closest case for their concepts.

What are some of the things that you have worked on?

I designed almost 90% of all characters of a TV animation series in 1997 for "Hoor" institute, the name was" Iran's history" and I had to find lots of data about the history , people , clothes and tools. It was a full time job to find and read stories, legends, pictures, drawings and sculptures; it took one year, difficult but so interesting. Before that, I had worked on 3 TV projects, I designed characters and animated them. I can mention after them, 5 commercial series for "Izogam" company in 2002.it was a fabulous experience; I participated in from start until end. It was offered to me from the company's advertising consulter, who had a primary concept. I made the story, graphics and characters, after that I joint to my friends and we made a team and started. Result: company asks for other parts!

Is there a character design you have done that you are most proud of?

It isn't easy for me to select the best one between my designing’s, and I am always willing to progress.

What are you working on now? (If you can tell us)

I immigrated to Canada in last July; I am trying to be familiar with Vancouver's art society and I am about to find a position in animation industry here. Also I have ideas to make some animations as a freelance.

Where is the place you would like to work if you had a choice?

I think animation industry is developed in US and Canada. Actually, my reason for immigration is working in such atmosphere.

Who do you think are the top character designers out there?

Paul Drissen (Director & designer)Michael Dudok (Director & designer)Glen Keane (Tarzan character designer) Gerald Scarf (Hercules character designer& cartoonist)

How do you go about coloring the character, what type of tools or media do you use?

I usually use brush and echolin ink or Photoshop software.

What part of designing a character is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?

This depends on how much my feeling and my information about the character is. On the other hand, as much as I know the character, I can imagine his or her behaviors better.

What are some of your favorite character designs and least favorite, which you have seen?

In my point of view Rocky and Bullwinkle and Professor Balthazar are the best. My least favorite is Shrek!

What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?

Drawing portraits and figures, cartoon and caricature drawing and illustration. All they have common point, creativity!

What inspired you to become a Character Designer?

My enthusiasm for sociology and psychology in addition to my passion to creating inspired me to become a character designer. I believe good characters can develop an ordinary idea to a fantastic one.

What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?

I learnt that no technical limitation can make a barrier for an artist's creativity.

What wisdom could you give us, about being a character designer? Do you have any tips you could give?

Just let your mind run, some times it doesn't work to following routine principles. Let characters live free, first don't judgment, just draw and think to lines harmony. Use some rules in opposite way! Ding! Character shows itself to you!

If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

saboukicartoon@gmail.com or afshinsabouki@yahoo.com

Finally, do you have any of your art work for sell (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?

I have brought some of my best caricatures in order to hold a caricature exhibition. In addition you can find my art work in my website and weblog.
Website: www.sabouki.com
Weblog: http://sabouki.blogspot.com/