Esfandiar Ha


Hello, I'm Esfandiar Hajiseyed Asadollah, aged 30, born and raised in Tehran, Iran. Since childhood, I've been passionate about becoming a SWAT operator or animator. I embarked on my journey as a 2D animator, storyboard artist, and character designer, accumulating 14 years of experience in the field. I thrive on tackling new and challenging projects, mostly self-taught and focusing on 2D short animations and video games. My debut professional endeavor was a 2D cinematic animation, followed by establishing my studio. Currently, I'm associated with Vulture Head Studio while freelancing for other studios like Dead Mage. Proficient in a range of software including Toon Boom, TV Paint, Photoshop, Adobe Animate, Blender, and Clip Studio, I possess the versatility to adapt to diverse styles and workflows.

Q: Tell us about yourself and your journey as an animator (How did you get started? What inspired you to get into the animation space? Etc.)

When I was a kid, my aunts would always bring me animation VHS tapes whenever they came to visit, mostly Renaissance Disney animations and the like…They were my favorite things to watch back then. I also really liked the cut-scenes in the games I used to play at the time, like Prince of Persia. I was always fascinated by them and wanted to know how they were made.

My mom was an artist as well, and we always had art history books and reference books around the house. I tried to imitate the drawings in those books and teach myself how to draw. So I was basically self-taught until I was a bit older and I started working in a couple of animation studios as an Intern.

Q: What animation style/s do you animate in? How has your style evolved over time?

My current style is a mix between Anime and the style of American animation series (which some people call the “western anime” style), like what DC and Marvel have been doing or the works of Studio Mir, Titmouse, and the Line animation.

Q: Are there any animators, films or art movements that inspire your style?

I’m mostly inspired by vintage animes such as Jin Roh, Perfect Blue, Magnetic Rose, Ghost in the Shell, Vampire Hunter D, etc... I really like to go for these retro styles. I’m a fan of the animating styles and art design in the works of Mamoru Oshii and Satoshi Kon in general. And among more recent animators, I really like what Bahi JD and Guzu do, specifically their animated action sequences.

Q: What genre do you find most fulfilling or enjoyable to animate?

I find animating action-packed stories in mystery-noir and adventure-thriller genres quite enjoyable!

Q: What tools and software do you use?

I started out with Adobe Flash and Photoshop, and right now I use a wide range of software for my projects such as Toon Boom, Tv Paint, Clip Studio, Blender. I like testing out and learning about different software since each of them has something that the other lacks.

Q: What does your creative process look like? What comes first?

If I’m working on an original idea, I just start out by sketching. If I’m working on an animation sequence, I storyboard the whole thing first.

Q: Which part of the animation process is your favorite? (character design, storyboarding, animatics, etc.)

Storyboarding, Layout, and Character Design are among my favorites.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring animators based on personal experience and industry insights?

Watch a ton of different animations. Don’t limit yourself to only a couple of predetermined styles or genres. Develop that “brain bank” and gather a lot of references. You should compare your work to other artists, but not to the point of obsession which can lead to discouragement and art-block (which happens to me too, haha). Try and see where you fit in the artist community on an international level, not just among those who are around you. Try to network and connect with artists and communities you share interests with…it really helps you progress and be inspired and motivated.

Q: How do you navigate periods of creative block?

Yes, I do. I tend to stop working too hard in these periods and instead, focus on watching new things and gathering and analyzing new data and training my eyes more. I basically combat it with research and study, instead of forcing myself to work.

Q: What did you enjoy the most about the latest story you animated for Storiaverse? What was the most challenging?

The story I worked on had a charming detective/mystery vibe… and also included an exciting chase and series of action scenes, which was very fun, but hard, to illustrate. So I guess what I enjoyed most and what challenged me the most were the same thing!

Q: What motivated your decision to collaborate with Storiaverse?

I like that Storiaverse is doing something new and in a fresh format and platform. I think making stories you could enjoy on your phone in a platform similar to Netflix but exclusively for animation, could be really fun and popular among the audiences. It could be an exciting and attractive opportunity for artists too… You get to have a new experience and see the works of others as well.

Q: How do you think animation can play a role in promoting diversity and representation?

I believe given the wide audience animations have, they can play a critical role when it comes to showing diversity. And since it’s an important issue, it should be done right. I really enjoy animations that include representation and show cultural and social diversities in an authentic way. The ones where artists actually do the research and put in the hard work to make these elements and the story fit together, without treating it indifferently and as a mere checklist to go through.

Q: What do you love most about the animation space and what draws you to adult animation specifically?

What I adore about animation is that it has no visual limits. You can do things with animation that are really hard/impossible to do in live-action. And in adult animation, you get to be even more creative and explore more serious, dark and complex themes and plots as well. We especially see these in anime and in the surrounding culture, which fortunately don’t see animation as something that is just for kids.

Q: Where do you think the animation industry is heading?

It feels like the whole industry has gone through a renaissance in the past few years... With 2D and 3D animation mixing and merging together like never before, there are new creative styles and new production pipelines and software being developed. It’s great that streaming services like Netflix and Amazon prime have also been supporting creative animations, with movies such as Klaus and Nimona and their various series like Arcane, Vox Machina, Castlevania, etc. It’s a very exciting time to be creating animations!