Monday, September 21, 2009

Marjane Satrapi

Today, Syracuse University hosted a symposium about cultural diplomacy and the role of the arts and technology in shaping culture and making a difference in society.  Normally, I wouldn't have gone, but it was the presence of one panelist in the discussion that made the difference for me: Marjane Satrapi.

For those of you who don't know, Marjane Satrapi is the author and illustrator of the memoirs Persepolis and Persepolis 2, which are first-hand accounts of what it was like as a little girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and subsequently what it was like growing into adulthood escaping the war by moving to Europe.  Persepolis has been turned into a movie, but first it was a graphic novel-- and a beautiful one, at that.  She has been one of my graphic novel heroes for a while now, and the chance to meet her and hear her speak was too good to pass up.

Instead of telling you about the talk, or gushing about how cool she is (which I could easily do for quite some time) I thought I'd share some quotes from her from the panel discussion today, as well as sketches I did of her.

"The basis of making any work of art is narcissism.  If anyone tells you differently, they are lying.  But it is a good narcissism.  For example, if I draw something, then people look at it and like it and that means they love me.  It comes from narcissism, but you go and open it up [to other people]."

"If I could have Twittered what happened in Iran, I would have written something so sour... I needed seven years to sit and think about it.  We need time to digest things."

"I smoke cigarettes.  I show that in my book.  American publishers told me, 'If we publish your book, our children will read it and become smokers.'  Well, I was thinking, maybe if you publish my book, you children might want to become good cartoonists."

My copy of The Complete Persepolis, stacked on top of the sketches from today's discussion.
She signed it!!!  

One last quote to think about: "For art, it is extremely important to be subversive."

Now, I'm off to work on my pencilled spreads for this week, reinvigorated by her words.

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