Artist Interviews 2021

By Laura Siebold

RUN is a muralist, professional skateboarder and digital artist based in Tehran, Iran. After teaching herself skateboarding and different digital arts, RUN fell in love with street art. As one of very few female street artists in Iran, she paints strong female characters on walls and skateboards. Her art is an expression of natural beauty and human feelings, in search of a deeper meaning of humanity. RUN highlights the symbiosis between human and natural beauty in her artwork.

In our interview, the artist talks about finding her way to street art, different painting techniques, how the pandemic has affected her work methods and about the meaning of public art.

Your style is easily recognizable; your displays of strong female characters on walls and skateboards usually combine the female and the natural world. It almost seems as if flowers and the natural world exist in a symbiosis with the female. What is the message you want to send with your art?

I usually use female portrait because it’s easier for me to show what I want to say! 
I usually talk about what’s deeper inside humanity, something that we cannot see with eyes, we only feel them. Back in 2018, I used to paint portraits melting their colors into air and cover eyes! I wanted to show feelings in shape of different colors of humans and also i wanted to say we don’t need eyes to feel each other! I’m doing same thing different style, I’m still talking about what’s going on inside all of us and i’m still saying that eyes doesn’t matter! 
so i am taking out the beauty of human nature out of their soul in shape of flowers or animals! 
I still want to say that nature is important we are one with it and we need to take care of each other (humanity and nature).

You are based in Tehran, Iran. Is it rather uncommon to be a female street artist in your country or are there more street artists like you out there? When and where did you first start creating street art?

It is uncommon to be street artist in iran, doesn’t matter girl or boy, we don’t have many artists here. I’ve been painting for nearly 10 years in streets now and we have never been many! we had only a few girls in iran street art all these years and I never stopped, no matter what happened! i’ve started during 2012 march! i was already in streets skateboarding and doing parkour and free running, mainly those lead me to meet someone who i offered doing stencil together, so we began to work as a team the 2 of us, but we separated and she left street art after first year! and i continued doing it alone! it was always super satisfying i already knew back then I’m going to do this full time as my job not only hobby!

We are curious about your background. How did you find your way to street art from being a professional skateboarder and digital artist?

I started with skateboarding after i failed some of my high school exams. I had so much free time to go skateboarding lol, I never studied visual arts, biology wasn’t my fav and I didn’t like studying, I started to skateboarding alone, using youtube to check for tutorials and I didn’t even have a smart phone i had to remember what i was watching on my computer or try taking notes and go to parks and try to do tricks, after some time i took a very old compact camera with me put it up and took video and tried to figure out what i’m doing wrong, anyway i learned skateboarding by myself, while i was at it, i received a wacom tablet for xmas from my brother in law, it was such a different world to me i started to do digital arts, (i learned game design , animating , editing, character designing 3d and 2d , manga art , fan arts , posters , logo , covers), but i fell for street art and i had to first create artwork by hand or digital and bring it to the wall, so i used my old tablet to do so, also i couldn’t go skateboarding as much as i used to do after years i use it to ride around now, but i just switched to paint on them, i would actually love to work for a well-known skateboard company, that would be amazing! so, it’s all a mixture of everything i did and i never left them behind i want to carry them with me!

How is working with handmade paste-ups different from working with spray and acrylic paints? Can you explain a little about the process of creating these art forms?

I like what I create to be created with my hands, i know that paste ups don’t last much, they might be gone in another hour or another day even though I worked on one for a few hours or days, but it's contemporary art and I’m okay with that, I use normal papers to create them, I have my digital art ready, I paint my ideas on my ipad, send them to my pc, send them to a usb, attach it to my projector, and take it on a paper I’m going to paint on, I will sketch out and add colors later in my studio, it’s paper you should be careful not to tear it apart, cuz plastic colors are wet, and you need to wait for the paint to dry to continue, I add some transparent colors usually to all my works, I love spray paint more than acrylics, but paste ups aren’t that big to be able to work with spray paints I just make some shades at the end! then for pasting my work in street, I make a glue out of wallpaper glue and wood glue and sirish (a kind of powder we have in iran to add with water and make a nasty looking yellowish glue); that’s the hardest thing I come up with to paste on any surface!

Did your work methods change during the pandemic? Did you create more street art in your own country rather than internationally?

Pandemic mainly ruined all the plans, I had commission to do for italy embassy, I wanted to join MOS kosovo, I wanted to go to berlin for a festival, I wanted to join thailand MOS again and have workshop there, i mean yeah i had no choice to stay in my studio and create new stuff. there aren’t many walls in my hometown to paint, i tried to paint walls i could find inside my own place or friends place or rooftop! i just hope i receive a vaccine and be able to travel to other countries to paint! pandemic made me more into creating nature and humans together!

How do you choose the walls and spaces for your street art? How can public art “change cities while creating social dialogue, inspiration, revolt or wonder”, as stated in your website bio? Elaborate.

As long as the wall made of okay materials, and its bigger than 200 cm x 200 cm, i’m willing to paint it, i don’t really like small walls! i really love abandoned places the most (no scary places please), but i like to paint huge walls in middle of city! Public art can express community values, enhance our environment, transform a landscape, heighten our awareness, or question our assumptions. Placed in public sites, this art is there for everyone, a form of collective community expression. Public art is a reflection of how we see the world – the artist’s response to our time and place combined with our own sense of who we are. It reflects and reveals our society and adds meaning to our cities. As artists respond to our times, they reflect their inner vision to the outside world, and they create a chronicle of our public experience.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Is there a specific method or place you turn to for inspiration? Are your female portraits based on women you know?

Sometimes I get inspired by looking at other kind of art on media just scrolling down the instagram, the other time I’m looking at my sticker wall and thinking, sometimes I randomly sketching out whatever comes to my mind and sketch them out and try to make them into real things, and sometimes i’m just playing! i used to have a lot of inspiration when i was traveling and taking short nap when i was on a flight, lol i miss that! i take photos of people i know sometimes and sometimes i just use someone photo searching on google and change it to what i want it to look like and use that for my practice! and sometimes i pay for photos i find on internet!

Often, you don’t see the eyes of your female characters in your art; they are either closed or covered by flowers. Is there a specific reason you chose to keep the eyes hidden in many of your murals and paintings?

Oh I answered this on question, but yeah, I took down one of the 6 senses and trying to tell that feelings matters, not eyes, you can’t see someone’s sadness behind their laughing face, and feelings are what makes humans live, they want to laugh, love, cry, hate and so on!

If you could create murals anywhere in the world, where would you like to go and why?

EVERYWHERE. I want to see japan, i want to go to japan over 15 years and it was my dream for a long time! but beside that i want to paint in germany , france , norway , netherlands , australia , USA , Canada , thailand , malaysia , singapore ... isn’t the world amazing? i want to travel and paint, it makes me connects to new people, meet new people, meet new culture, learn more, feeling alive!

What are you currently working on? Can you give us an insight into future projects?

Right at this moment after replying to this last question, I have to jump on a new NFT project, it’s a team work of 12 artists from all over world, I have 3 new paste ups to add colors to the sketch and bring it to street! I have new walls sketch is ready, I just have no idea where i am going to paint it yet, also i’m releasing new digital prints collab with artist from Taiwan called Leho in a week, i started to learn lino cut prints. i wanna do something cool with them i dont know what yet, if i find sometime, i’m joining a manga audition competition! also i’m waiting for this festival in spain to see if i can get in or not! if they accept me, i will move in sept to paint walls! last i’m working on a lot of new deck paintings!

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