A1one (pronounced alone; Tanhâ ) is the pseudonym of Karan Reshad, an Iranian visual artist who pioneered graffiti and street art in Iran. His career as a street artist began in his hometown, Tehran.
Life and careerA1one grew up in Iran during a period of war and the Khatami reform era (1997-2005). A1one studied for 5 years at the Art and architecture university in Tehran. While still a student, he began using graffiti around the university campus, as a protest against student conditions. He was eventually expelled by the School's President following a disagreement over religious restrictions.
After being expelled from University, his graffiti activities in the city of Tehran increased. A1one was the first person to start painting on the city walls. His name can be interpreted as "Alone" or "First One". A1one started painting walls in the late 1990s. He is the pioneer of the urban art scene in Middle East. When he began, it was a time when nobody knew what graffiti was in his country. He had a very influential role in the rise of street art and stenciling within Iran.
Already involved in urban arts in general, he met in 2005 the rapper Nima who told him everything about the graffiti culture which triggered A1one's desire to grow in that direction. His first significant work was a painting under the Tehran-Karaj expressway called Searching for Friends.
He started his street art project in 2003 and inspired his close friends at that time to also begin painting on the streets. Artists such as Elle, isba, K.T. and Magoi were the first people to join him in Tehran. With his public space art, he describes his view on the Iranian society and puts himself regularly in danger.
"When I decided to do my painting on walls I bought some spray cans - at that time we had just some very low quality colors in Iran. My first work was a very simple work titled “searching for friends” painted on a wall right next to the Tehran-Karaj expressway late at night. It was a really frightening night for me… The next morning I got three calls from friends who recognized my style of painting. They were shocked to see my work on a public wall. My first stencil was a Munch's Scream Print on Art University walls and after that , experimented with many techniques and methods, but I continue with stencils, graffiti and sticker art."
In 2007, he was invited to illustrate the cover of a book, Young and Defiant in Iran; a contemporary ethnographic work by Shahram Khosravi. In 2008, he was invited to show his work at the annual Melbourne Stencil Festival, taking 40 pieces of work with him to his first trip in a non-dictatorship country, thus experimenting exhibiting his artwork without the fear of reprisals for the first time.
By 2010, A1One was an established name within Tehran's youth culture and a key figure in the emergence of Iranian street art.
A1one's art world is dynamic and made of many different styles, from portraits to calligraphy and funky characters which he mostly uses for his stickers. A1one's art combines Persian calligraphy and Western graffiti. His art has been documented by many photographers and featured in Art Asia Pacific Magazine.
The artist has been working on a distinctly Iranian style of calligraffiti, which is "a fusion of hip-hop graffiti and Persian typography." His style is recognised across the Islamic graffiti world. He has made a handful of the greatest Style walls with Arabic letter graffiti since 2004.