Haleh Mashian, the mastermind behind MASH Gallery and MASH City, is opening up about her career as an artist, her inspiration behind her pieces, and her life outside of her career.
Mashian was born in Tehran/Iran to a Jewish family. She had a happy childhood until her life turned upside down during the Iranian Revolution. After living through major trauma with her family, Mashian escaped to the United States with her younger brother. The sole focus of her teenage and early adult years was on survival, so she never had the opportunity to fully explore her artistic side. “Had I not gone through that, maybe I would have gotten in touch with (my artistic side) earlier. I don’t know. Or maybe I would never have gotten in touch with it if I’d never gone through that. It’s hard to say,” reflected Mashian.
She has now been painting for over 30 years – selling most of her work to private collectors – and opening up MASH Gallery around two years ago. “I always wanted to have a place where I can bring the community together where art, beauty, excitement, and joy exist altogether. I did not want to stay alone in my studio all day and just create. I wanted to be engaged with the world. It is very exciting to exchange with others. I value that tremendously,” said Mashian.
In the short two years that she has owned MASH Gallery, Mashian has picked up a tremendous amount of knowledge. “I have been constantly going to the unknown and learning about the game in this business and developing personal and business relationships with amazing artists and collectors. It has opened me up to a whole new life and relationship that have been very growthful and empowering,” said Mashian. Creativity is the essence of everything she does, but she still faced a learning curve when opening the gallery.
After finding huge success with MASH Gallery, Mashian decided to take her designs to a new medium – fashion. She noticed that what she wore and the environment in which she lived had a huge impact on her, and wanted to explore these other avenues with her art. MASH City is an artful lifestyle brand merging fashion and art, allowing wearers to inspire and be inspired. “This is a line for people with a more vivid, bold, and adventurous personality. It’s for people who want to be comfortable, edgy, and who are open to wearing bold prints and colors. It’s for sincere, but not serious people,” commented Mashian.
Like creating art, creating fashion comes with its challenges. When asked about what she does when she gets creative blocks, Mashian said, “I destroy it. I take the chance of either making it into an amazing piece or discarding it if it didn’t come out the way I wanted it to. I remind myself it is just a piece of art and not a life or death situation. It’s not who I am.”
Art is more than just a career for Mashian – it is her lifestyle. Being creative is more than just making a painting or a clothing piece, it is a way of life. Mashian believes you can bring that with you in everything you do on a daily basis, from cleaning a room to cooking a meal. “Creativity is always a work in progress,” she says, “and becomes a way of life once you nurture it.”
Haleh Mashian has truly worked her way from the bottom up, living through unimaginable trauma during her childhood and eventually becoming a successful artist and businesswoman. When asked what her advice to other women would be, she said, “Be as nice to yourself and compassionate as you are with others. Oftentimes, we don’t speak to others the way we speak to ourselves. Be less driven and enjoy the ride more. To motivate myself from a kinder place as opposed to being tough on myself. At the end of the day I am doing the best I can and so is everybody else,”