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Q & A: SHIREEN HASHEMI - YOUR FAVORITE ARTIST'S FAVORITE ARTIST



Name: Shireen Hashemi 
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Place of Residence: Oakland, CA
Favorite song/album released this year: Dawg Storm by RX Papi



If you’re even remotely interested in the Bay Area music scene, chances are you’ve seen Shireen Hashemi’s work. She’s produced cover artwork for East Bay artists like Bored Lord and Bastiengoat as well as New York-based artists like DJ SWISHA and the OSSX collective. Her design language is instantly recognizable but hard to pin down, combining elements from old school rave posters, nostalgic iconography and motorsports aesthetics.  This trademark style has made her one of the most sought-after designers working in the ~underground~ music scenes of various cities around the country.

With clients and projects on both coasts who have commissioned her for everything from album artwork, party flyers and physical music release packaging, Hashemi is creating a design world all her own. 

She truly is your favorite artist’s favorite artist. 

We recently caught up with the ascendant designer to discuss her early path in art, her creative process and some highlights from her career so far.

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Q: How did you get started as a graphic designer? Any early influences that stick out to you?A: Honestly? Tumblr. When I was in middle school I had an Indiana Jones blog (lol) and wanted to make those cute gifs that everyone else was reblogging. So I torrented Photoshop and taught myself how to make gifs by watching Youtube videos. I guess I did a good job cause that post got me tons of followers hahaha. 

Since I already had Photoshop I decided to play around and make other content for Tumblr. I made a ton of transparent Lana Del Rey stickers...

When I was in high school I took AP Art and for my concentration, I focused on digitally making movie posters. My favorite one I made was this Lolita poster. I posted it on Redbubble and made a decent amount of money from it (even to this day!). From that moment I realized that damn, maybe I'm kinda good at this shit.

In college, I helped run a DIY Design Collective for my college radio station, WREK 91.1FM Atlanta. I learned so much from my peers there and being a part of that collective definitely helped to shape my style into what it is today.

I don't have any particular designers or artists that influence me, but I've always been inspired by old-school rave flyers, graffiti, cartoons, sports, and motorsports aesthetics.


Q: Looney Tunes characters are a pretty consistent motif in your work. What about them do you find interesting as a design element?A: Honestly, I'm trying to move away from using them as much. They remind me of a point in my life that I've outgrown.

I think I've exhausted their use for flyers, but I'm interested in using them outside of digital design work, like maybe in a mixed media situation.

What initially drew me toward them is how often they came up when I was digging through old-school flyers, so I thought I'd give them a go myself. 

What I find most interesting about them is how easily everyone can connect to those characters. They can be traced back to almost everybody's childhood, no matter their upbringing. So it's super nostalgic. 

Including universal design elements like that is almost like a cheat code - they're iconic & memorable. I'm all about accessible design so it makes sense that I would use characters everyone is familiar with. 

Also, they're just cute!
Q: How do you balance creativity with conveying the necessary information on a flyer?This is hard and something that I still struggle with. If it's an event I'm super pumped about, I usually tend to go all out. That excitement and passion fuel my creativity. But sometimes that means I go overboard with the initial draft and will have to go back and make logical revisions because, at the end of the day, it's more about conveying that information in an accessible and easy-to-digest way. 

However, I will push back when a promoter micromanages me so much that the flyer doesn't even look like my work anymore, so to combat that I tend to be proactive by being intentional about all my design decisions.

I do wanna take a moment to shout out Tal (NO BIAS) because since day one they've been the only promoter who's more concerned with giving me all the space to be creative rather than prioritizing flyer content.
Q: Can you describe your creative process when working on a flyer design? A: Honestly, it's a mess! I'm not really the kind of person who plans and sketches out ideas before, and if I do, the final product always looks different than the initial direction I was going in. 

Usually, the first thing I do is get a feel for the vibe of the party. I'll listen to mixes by all the artists in the lineup, look at previous flyers (if any), and ask the promoter for any references that they like. 

From there I make my own little mood board of sorts filled with inspiration. Then I'll pull in fonts, colors, layouts, and imagery that I want to try and go from there. 

Everything from that point on is a blur to me.
Q: How would you describe the difference between designing a show flyer vs. cover artwork for a single/EP?A: It's mostly the same, except I have more creative freedom when it comes to cover art. 

I normally only do cover art for my friends & producers whose work I really fuck with, that way I already have a solid foundation of their vibe, making me feel more confident that I can bring their sound to life visually.

I prefer to do cover art over flyers because parties come and go, but music is forever. 

When I design cover artwork I always keep in mind the longevity of the design, so I find myself aiming to design something that will stand the test of time. I always feel honored when a producer reaches out to me for art because that means they trust me and fuck with my style enough to pair it with their own work, and that's just like...the best compliment.
Q: Is there a particular design or event that stands out to you? A: I love the cover art that I did for OSSX's NO SLEEP EP. It's a perfect combination of all of my influences. 

It really feels like a "damn, I leveled up" piece for me.

This is my favorite EP of theirs so it was such an honor that they asked, I wanted to go all out for it. It's also super shiny and saturated so it's fun to look at hahaha.
 cover artwork by Shireen Hashemi
Q: Any upcoming projects or new challenges you're looking forward to taking on?A: I'm doing a little something something for local superstar Bored Lord, but that won't come out for a while. It'll be my first time doing graphic design for a physical release, so I'm super excited to see how that turns out. 

I've been interested in branching out design-wise. I'm currently working on some apparel designs. 

I also recently found out that my neighbor is a talented painter so I've been getting lessons from him. Everything I've done only exists within the digital realm, and I really want to create something tangible, so that's the next step for me! 

Hopefully, it turns out okay, either way, I'm excited to be trying new things.

ⓒ AMOR DIGITAL