One of the most unique joys of being an artist is knowing that your work evokes raw, human emotions within those around you. Visual arts have the ability to transcend the mundane aspects of human life and to push people to explore themselves and the world around them. Over time, art has created change. It has inspired and influenced. It has created chaos and disruption, and it has birthed a community of dreamers, and creators. It has produced renowned artists like Tooba Rezaei, whose passion has allowed her to touch the lives of several different people throughout her career. For Rezaei, the true joy of her craft comes from the platform it gives her to make people feel things that they may not otherwise have the chance to feel. She gets to tell stories and to motivate her audiences to dream without limits.
When Rezaei was a child, she would immerse herself in cartoon television shows. When each show ended, she would take her pen and paper and challenge herself to draw all of her favorite characters. She was energized by the feeling of her pencils exploring the paper and loved the creating things that hadn’t otherwise existed. As she grew up, she continued to test her skills against various mediums and art forms within the field of visual arts. This led her to discover the wonderful world of animation, a world in which she feels that she belongs. She has a natural affinity for bringing her drawings to life via animation and loves the dynamics that the motion brings to her artwork. As an animator, Rezaei has created a number of well-known animations, such as her original animation, A Sweet Dream. Prior to creating A Sweet Dream, however, Rezaei experienced her first sense of impacting the lives of others through her artwork with her animations for the game SilverFit.
SilverFit was a game designed specifically for use by an older demographic. Essentially, it is a virtual therapy system to be used to train gross motor skills and ADL tasks during rehabilitation sessions. The game presents the necessary exercises for elderly individuals to follow along with and keep their muscles working accordingly. Since its inception, the game received great success and is now used by over 20,000 individuals a week. As SilverFit’s first designer, Rezaei acted as the background designer, background painter, character designer, and character animator. She designed a wide variety of different games, each based on the use of different motor skills to suit the game’s intended audience. In working for SilverFit, Rezaei got a taste of what it felt like to know that her work would directly aid in helping improve the health of its target audience. It gave Rezaei’s art a meaningful sense of purpose and she was addicted to the high of helping those around her. SilverFit’s founder and managing director, Maaike Dekkers-Duijts, was blessed to have Rezaei on board for the project. Her talents exceeded far beyond simply animating.
“Her animations really seem to come alive. They really ‘touch’ you. She is a great artist, creating extraordinarily beautiful animations. She is so artistic and has exceptional talent,” regarded Dekkers-Duijts.
After the success of Silverfit, Rezaei then extended her talents to the children’s show Parparook for Persian Gulf TV. Parparook (meaning ‘Pinwheel’ in the South of Iran) is a special program that is produced and distributed in Kahlije Fars IRIB (Islamis Repablic of Iran Broadcasting, also known as Persian Gulf). Rezaei wrote, directed, designed, painted and animated all the characters and all the objects on the background of Parparook, creating everything from scratch and differentiating her shorts from everything on the show. The producer and manager of the program were so happy with results that years later they used some of Rezaei’s work for other kid’s television programs as well.
Knowing that she had always wanted to create her own animated story, she knew that in order for it to be truly worth her while, she would need to give it an element of social influence. She wanted to do more than just entertain, and out of this determination, A Sweet Dream was born. A Sweet Dream can be described as a bittersweet, allegorical look at the desires of a little girl who wants the world to see her talents shine through her difficult life circumstances. Not only did Rezaei animate this project from start to finish, she also wrote and directed the storyline. To fit with the animated short’s premise, Rezaei felt it fitting to use a simple, two dimensional, flat design. In fact, she felt that the simplicity of the drawings was imperative to the overall mood she was attempting to portray. She wanted it to seem as if the little girl could’ve drawn the lines and shapes herself, making her world easier to relate to for her audience. Rezaei then added a second element to her design concept by showcasing the little girl’s reality through dark blue tones and contrasting it with her dream state, which Rezaei colored in golden tones.
“In her dream world, forms are curvaceous and delicate. There is dance and movement and inspiration. However, in reality, she is in an orphanage and the forms of the beds and the room are sharp and straight with harsh angles, alluding to her real-life struggles and difficulties,” said Rezaei.
Rezaei hoped that A Sweet Dream would challenge her audience to question their own harsh realities and evaluate them against their own hopes and dreams. She wanted them to think about how they would react if they were in the little girl’s shoes. Would their dreams be squandered by their reality? According to Rezaei, if we don’t push ourselves to understand the lives of others, we can never truly improve our society as a whole and make our collective world a better place. She felt as though A Sweet Dream helped to remind her why she does the work that she does. Seeing her audiences shed tears over her story solidified the reality that this is exactly what she wants to be doing and that she had succeeded in her efforts to make them stop and think about the consequences of their actions.
After screening at a number of different film festivals, A Sweet Dream even went on to win Best Animation at the Los Angeles CineFest, as well as Finalist in Animation Short at both the International Film Awards in Berlin, Germany, as well as at Constatine’s Gold Coin Festival in Serbia. If you wish to experience the magic, watch A Sweet Dream for yourself and you won’t be disappointed.
Image by Tooba Rezaei, captured from ‘A Sweet Dream’