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Friday, March 1, 2024

UC Davis biological sciences student’s surprising turn as an up-and-coming artist

Mixing science and art isn’t something that is easily achieved, yet senior Arian Behzadi manages to combine the two perfectly in his visual design work.

In his free time, Behzadi, a biological sciences major with an emphasis in neurobiology, physiology and behavior, works on personal and freelance design work, including movie and music album posters, website design, magazine covers, app icon designs and user interfaces and T-shirt designs for various international companies. His images are quickly spreading across various visual media sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest, and he boasts recent features in Juxtapoz Magazine and on Trendland.net.

Behzadi’s work is characterized by geometric shapes, mid-century colors and mixed-media elements such as paint, newspaper clippings, magazine images and typography.

“There are definitely aspects of collage work and cut-outs in my work, so in that respect, yes, it can be defined as mixed-media collages, but a lot of this stuff is done digitally,” Behzadi said. “I think my work reflects what I see in old magazines, especially National Geographic, and old books. I just really love the color and the print of that era and find ways to repurpose them.”

Behzadi’s friend and housemate, senior economics major Joshua Wallach, describes Behzadi’s design aesthetic.

“Arian can see things that fit together – colors, shapes, fonts, pictures, etc. – that other people may not be aware of,” Wallach said. “He has a way of combining images and colors that make the result stronger than the individual pieces. Arian draws from the simplicity and starkness from the 1950s and layers it into something more complex.”

Glenda Drew, associate professor of visual communication in the UC Davis department of design, agreed.

“He has a strong sense of color and use of organic white space,” Drew said. “He repurposes imagery and uses techniques of repetition to create new visual statements that are appealing to look at. He has a good understanding of typography and how to use type effectively within his work. A lot of people don’t know how to do that.”

With an increasing number of commissioned design work, including a collaboration with Australian clothing brand Das Monk, it’s surprising that Behzadi finds the time to keep up with school work, let alone a 15-hour-a-week research assistant role at the Carraway/Sweeney Cancer Lab where he helps conduct breast cancer research.

However, Behzadi doesn’t let design work interfere with his plans to pursue a career in the medical field and to ultimately become a surgeon. Instead, he enjoys finding parallels between art, science and technology and allowing that to translate into his work.

“I enjoy marrying art and science. There are a lot of really simple and elegant solutions to things in the biology world that I think are really neat,” he said.

Still, Wallach believes that Behzadi has a real talent that can’t be ignored, and that he should consider a permanent career in design.

“His greatest strength is his artistic eye,” Wallach said. “His passion for design is the strongest. The housemates and I agree that someone with so much talent should seriously consider a future in design.”

Likewise, Drew believes that pursuing design will benefit Behzadi.

“At the undergraduate level, students experiment and make small bodies of work that are connected,” Drew said. “The graduate level goes deeper. If Arian continues on that trajectory, he can be really successful.”

Currently, Behzadi plans to finish the rest of the school year at UC Davis before applying to medical school in the fall where he hopes to study oncology. In the meantime, he plans to continue doing freelance design work – he recently received a commission to design a poster for the upcoming movie created by menswear style blog “Street Etiquette” – and to collaborate with other artists.

“It’s huge when my work is featured alongside the work of artists I respect,” Behzadi said. “I hope that I can still be respected in that world 10 years from now.”

Behzadi’s work can be found on his website, cargocollective.com/arianbehzadi.

STEPHANIE B. NGUYEN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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