By Shahrooz Shekaraubi
How did you get into photography? What inspired you?
Armaghan Mehrabian: Ever since I can remember I have been interested in the arts. When I was a kid I started off with painting. As a matter of fact, I painted all the way through my college years. I always loved painting, but deep down I knew something was missing. I never realized what I truly wanted until I took a photography class as a freshman in college. I bought a new camera and started taking photos. My brother joined me soon after. He is very talented and creative and seeing his great works further motivated me to practice harder. I continued working and the more I worked, the more I became fascinated by my new medium. Overtime, I realized that photography gave me an incredible ability that I did not have before. It allowed me to capture reality and then to sit back to watch it. It gave me time to decide what I wanted to share or hide from others. In other words, photography provided me with a base to work on as if reality was a painted canvas and I had the chance to conceal, highlight, or re-draw it. Photography gave me the very thing that I could never accomplish by painting alone. That’s probably what inspired me to pursue it more seriously.
How did you start your work? Did you find any parts difficult?
Armaghan Mehrabian: Of course, it had its own difficulties. My undergraduate major was architecture and I did not know much about photography except some basic concepts. Therefore, in order to get into the Fine Arts program, I needed to learn everything on my own. I had to learn lots of things and I did not have much time. I started by improving my technical skills and experimenting. At the same time, I thoroughly studied thousands of photos of other photographers in order to train my eyes to see better! I practiced for a while, and gradually I reached a better understanding of what I wanted to do.
How do you find your ideas?
Armaghan Mehrabian: Most of my ideas come from my daily life experiences. I consider them as a translation of my inner emotions and thoughts.
Do you sketch your ideas out or just go with the flow?
Armaghan Mehrabian: It really depends on the project. Usually, when I have an idea, I draw a very basic and quick sketch of it just so I will not forget it later. But, in general I prefer to see my ideas and details in my head instead of on paper.
Are there any artists that inspire you?
Armaghan Mehrabian: Of course! Many artists have inspired me but amongst all, Francesca Woodman had the biggest impact on my works. Her self-portraits are incredibly beautiful, powerful, and thought-provoking.
What has been your experience as an artist here in the US?
Armaghan Mehrabian: My experience as an artist in the US is bittersweet. It has been full of excitements, new opportunities, and of course difficulties. Working in a community with a different culture, history, and concerns from where I grew up, was not an easy experience. It felt like I was stuck in a dilemma. I felt the urge to decide whether to stay committed to my past or adapt to the new present. I can say that this paradox is still one of the most challenging things that I have to deal with even after a few years. However, I deeply believe that after all of these confusions there will be a future that was worth all the effort.
What advice would you give to your fellow artists?
Armaghan Mehrabian: I would like to quote a piece of advice that I personally received not long ago, which was really helpful for me. The advice was: there may come times in your practice that you doubt everything. You may doubt your works, your talents, and even your choice of being an artist. In such a difficult time, stop whatever you’re doing, go for a walk, think about anything but art, and don’t decide about anything. Give yourself distance for few days and let your mind peace out. You’ll see your passion will give you the power to move again very soon.