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Meet Maryam Sefati

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maryam Sefati.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Animation has always been a wonderful part of me and my life. I have been fascinated but the animated world and moving lines since I was so young. As a child growing up in Iran, what would come to mind as I would watch animation every time was that there must be someone with some magical hands who draws, and makes these pretty illustration moves. And every time I wished i could have a job like that one day.

As I used to watch every fairytale animated movies, listening to their characters signing: “If you keep on believing, your dreams will come true!” I started to carry that mindset and never stopped believing in having a dream to be working either as an illustrator or a designer in the animation studio. This has been my true cliche! But also my forceful unconscious motive all these past years of my life.

Even when I was not aware of my deep desires, they have been with me and have pushed me from the opposite side of the world to here. Every day its a dream coming true as I get to work in animation studios with supporting talented teams. To make what we can do the best for children just to not only see them smile but encouraging them to dream and hope and never give them up. We work hard with love to sparkle their imagination, So their life can be sweeter and better; however, it is.

I would never imagine in my life I would get to have the opportunities I have now as a middle eastern woman. It was the hope I got in my heart by all my wishes and goals and genuinely kind, loving supporting husband and co-workers. They helped in every step, holding my hand and helped me grew.

I didn’t do anything alone, and that is what I love about animation. The support and energy you get from other artists who share the same passion.

Has it been a smooth road?
Not at all, I don’t think nothing will ever come easy! But it has been adventurous. After six years of working in Iran, the disrespectful environment, and limited life for artists, especially female artists, and having a baby girl, My husband and I decided to leave the country to the USA in 2011 at the age of 27.

I came here as a student first. The school was an excellent opportunity to learn and adjust to the new culture and society we were hoping to be part of. This country has been feeling like home more that Iran to me.

Not knowing that many people finding our way to the job market was not easy at first. I have been lucky enough to have supporting helping friends open the doors for me and show me the path.

In 2014 with the help of my friends from school, I got my first job as an intern at Disney interactive. And soon, with the help of another friend, I got my first job in the WB animation studio, and that was the beginning of my Animation career in the USA. Since then, I have enjoyed working in different animated Tv series and inspired by very talented co-workers. Every show I get to work at its a new world to live in and learn from, and I couldn’t ask for more.

Now my challenges are learning more and more about American life: all the details and its histories. The culture and pop culture and the nature of the people and environment, As animation and art, reflect their society. If we don’ use the same visual language as our people, we may lose our connection to our audience.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am an Illustrator and Visual development artist. My focus and specialty are designing backgrounds for animation. I have been working on shows such as “Star vs. the forces of evil” and “ Wander over the yonder” for Disney tv animation, recent “Looney tunes shorts” for WB bros animation, “Victor and Valentino” for Cartoon Network, and currently working on “Kids Cosmic” for Netflix.

I deeply love my job and care for it. I have been trying to be flexible and adaptable to different styles of drawings. This way, I can get the chance to work with more various designs and people with different points of view and thinking to be inspired by them.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
LA is somehow reminding me of the city Tehran which I grew up in. A city that is big and holding too many hearts in it. Surrounded by mountains as it’s hugged and cared by nature, being accompanied by the earth’s largest ocean, and my favorite is its sky which has so many colors during the day. It’s gloomy and gray in the mornings, golden at noon, and saturated orange and red in the evening. This daily change in sky resembles times as it passes and so our lives with all it has in it good and bad, and that makes this land and this city more familiar to me as we change together during the day and time like a life partner or a good friend.

Los Angeles holds the largest Iranian population in the USA. As I go to different parts of it, I get to meet Iranians randomly here and there. It is soothing to see a face with familiar color and features, dusted with their immigration stories. Hearing a voice in my mother tongue language once in a while makes it feel more like home here to my family and I. I get to live my American life here but still have my Iranian life not too faded or far away. Immigration made me understand how I am attached to our Iranian flavored foods and language and culture. This city not only holding my dreams of working in the entertainment industry in it but my people. This city is diverse and alive. It’s truly a colorful one.

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