I’m beyond excited to welcome Amir Zand, extraordinary illustrator and concept artist, to this month’s Windows Into Worlds Artist Spotlight. His unique and remarkable illustrative signature style graces the covers of many tales in the science fiction and fantasy genres, and chances are you’re already familiar with much of his work. If you’re not, it’s high time to get acquainted – I mean, JUST LOOK AT HOW EXQUISITE ALL THOSE PIECES ARE! A huge thank you to Amir for taking the time have a chat!
Amir Zand is an Iranian Illustrator & Concept Artist specializing in Marketing Art & Visual Development. Having illustrated more than 40 book covers, he currently freelancing from Istanbul, Turkey to create highly stylized Publication and Entertainment industry artwork.
Welcome to Whispers & Wonder, Amir! Care to tell us who you are in 10 words or less?
Aside from my bio, I’m a dreamer, always trying to live in my dreams and imagination and i usually end up illustrating them!
Why do you do what you do?
I have always enjoyed fantasy and sci-fi stories, being able to be the storyteller in a form of art was the ultimate dream, it feels great to be a creator.
Have you always wanted to be an artist?
The Answer is yes, as i assume it’s the same for all the artists in any form of art, one thing most of us have in common is that we all start from a very young age, so pen and color pencils were the most wanted toys when i was 5-6 years old. I always wanted to draw things on daily basis.
What kind of work do you enjoy doing the most and why?
Being in the middle of a painting process is the most valuable thing for me as i enjoy doing it so much, you see, starting a new piece is tricky and finishing it up is so hard, but in between, its the most wonderful time, especially in the midnight hours when my head is free and i get great music on the background while painting. It’s amazing.
Where or from whom do you pull inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from all sorts of different sources, the environment around me, streets, architecture, talking with people, books, stories, films, games, dreams, looking at other’s art and so on. Basically anything that happens around us can effect the work we do as humans.
What made you dive into the world of book cover art and design?
Interesting question, i always wanted that, in fact i always dream of a bookshelf full of my own book covers in my studio, because of my passion for graphic and promotional illustration, i was always collecting books and things because of their packages and their covers! Yeah, i have books that i haven’t even read yet but i got them because of their covers! When i was a teenager i would redesign movie and music covers for myself to have my own taste of covers on the shelf, i would design and go out to print them and create them, i had so much fun doing it. Thats how i got into this position i am today, i’ve started with book covers and promotional illustrations.
Walk us through your process – How does your consultation process go? Do you generally read the book prior to beginning the art? Do you prefer to initially sketch/brainstorm on paper or screen? Any fun quirks?
There is no such a way to share as i am an impulsive person, for me, each work requires a unique way to do, most of the time i ask for a very short brief of the book, theme and the way authors see it, i don’t really read the books completely. Then i would think about it, i would imagine the cover and how it might look and how it can catch the viewers eyes. Imagining is the key that i do all the time, it might take days for me to think about it, to plan my moves and composition in my head. Sometimes i do initial sketches for authors who wants to see alternatives, try to have some early compositions before it go to final work. i prefer to be fully open handed when i do covers, and most of the time i would design the letters myself to fit it well with my composition.
Do you get to read much? If so, do you have any favorite authors?
I don’t consider myself a big fan of reading as much as i rather to play video games, i think i am in control mostly in those RPG games in which i’d be able to control story and interact with stuff in my own way. When i was a teenager i enjoyed reading Darren Shan, Jules Verne, and by the time i grew up i was reading through series of Woody Allen books, Halo books and many short stories from so many different authors. Aside from that i would pretty much read often about science and historical events.
What’s the biggest challenge you face professionally?
I would say being an Artist is a challenge itself, while it’s enjoyable to be in a creative process, it’s also hard to deal with artistic pressures and stay motivated. Us artists never reach our destination, we often don’t even get close to how we imagine our work to be and it’s the hardest part to try to keep your sanity and mental health while you go through so many imposter syndrome phases. The think that i’m not enough or thats not the best i can do… But i have to remind myself to enjoy the journey, as there is no destination in this career path. Dealing with these feelings are my main source of pain.
What’s the one thing you’d be lost without?
I would say not being able to imagine or have any imaginations, it would be so dark…
I know we’re never supposed to ask a parent to choose their favorite child, but do you have a piece you’re particularly proud of?
So hard to answer this one, as i’ve said before, i enjoy the painting process but after i finishing the piece, i will soon lose my interest in it, because it never gets finished the way i imagined it so i cannot even consider it as a favorite. I always tell my self that i will do it next time, next piece will be my favorite, but that next time never came over the last 9 years… i do have pieces to be proud of though, but i would never consider them as my children… mostly the ones that come out of nowhere, when i’m feeling totally free and become a kid just playing with colors and tools to do whatever i want, that’s the state that i would create things that i love the most. It’s a pretty hard state to be in though, at least for me. Funny thing is that they are usually not so highly good in terms of technical aspects but i love them because they are truly based on my feelings.
Thank you again for taking the time to have a chat, Amir! You have anything going on right now you want the world to know about?
It’s been almost 4 years that i’m trying to build a universe of my own which called ANOMALY.
I’ve been doing sketches and concepts, inspired by games, movies and my deep love for sci-fi stories, and it inspired by all the things that i grew up with. I collaborate with my friend Nathan M Hurst who’s a brilliant author to create the story and lore for the whole project, Nathan ended up creating 3 short stories to share a glimpse of what we have in mind, it’s amazing.
You can read it free here: https://nathanmhurst.com/short-stories
Thanks you so much for having me 🙂
Be sure to check out Amir’s website to peruse his absolutely INCREDIBLE portfolio.
Stay tuned for more artist highlights.