“I am genuinely impressed by the expressions and movements of the characters in the works of the Renaissance period.”
Interview: Şener Yılmaz Aslan
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born on September 22, 1986 in Tarsus, and spent most of my childhood and teenage years in Mersin. I went on to graduate from the textile design department at Marmara University, Fine Arts Faculty. Although I did not really like what I studied, over time I discovered other fields that I could actually enjoy. In addition to my personal projects, I also work as an illustrator in textile design.
Everyone has a different story about how they started illustrating. What is yours?
It may sound a bit cliché but I have been drawing ever since I can remember. Especially from the first year of middle school I devoted myself completely to drawing. Disney had an encyclopedia, and I would look in it and draw the characters. I still have some of those drawings. I am rather particular about my illustrations; so much so that I remember wasting away a whole day trying to perfect a Conan character as I wanted it to be. I would try to draw, sitting from the morning until late at night. To this day, I keep pushing myself to draw exactly like what I envision. That was why I no longer enjoyed it. Now I prefer to draw what I enjoy, and not the best.
Technically, how do you start illustrating and then continue? What do you use as materials?
I love working with contrasts over the dark background, and using antique colors. The dark tones further deepen the sense of the work. I mostly focus on figures and floral patterns. I use pastel, watercolor and distressed effects as well. If the customer wants fast turnaround, I work completely digital. I can use a combination of digital, markers, and watercolor depending on the effect I want to create in my personal work. I particularly love the effect of watercolor and gouache on paper.
Most of the characters in your illustrations resemble typical Renaissance figures. Where does this interest in the period art/people come form?
My illustrations do not actually resemble a Renaissance piece. But there is some of that effect because of the tones, the expressions of the characters and the details. This is in part a conscious choice, and in part unintentional. Up until some time ago, I did not have a fully settled illustration style. I would just illustrate. But later I realized something as I visited museums and galleries. I was genuinely impressed by the expressions and movements of the characters in the works of the Renaissance period. Whenever I visited museums or galleries, I was drive to illustrate figures like in the period art. Once I reached this awareness, my current style began to take form. They are most certainly not Renaissance paintings. But it is true that I draw with the feelings I get from those paintings.
Who do you usually draw for, and are there specific types of projects you prefer?
Different businesses including publishing houses, magazines, agencies, etc. commission my work. Currently I am illustrating for magazines mostly. For a while, I concentrated on children’s books. Lately, I have been preferring projects that I can spread to a longer timeframe and work more comfortably.
What do you do other than illustrating?
My next biggest passion after illustrating is traveling. During breaks, short and long alike, I always try to travel to places I have not seen before. I exercise regularly, although sometimes I cannot maintain continuity due to my workload. I have taken up winter sports in recent years, but I am not that good yet. Apart from these, I have become a keen fan of foreign shows that started with Dexter. I follow a lot of foreign shows.
Who are the first names that come to your mind if I say music and cinema?
Off the top of my head I would say, Anayurt Hotel adapted from Yusuf Atılgan’s novel of the same title, and director Ömer Kavur, because I recently watched the film and was profoundly affected by it. I have missed a lot not having watched it for so long. Other Turkish films I can name are “Sarı Mercedes,” “İftarlık Gazoz,” “İçimdeki Ses,” and “Vavien.” I want to mention Engin Günaydın particularly. He’s an actor like no other. I would really like to meet him.
If we come to international director, I would say Christopher Nolan. He is a true genius. Into the Wild, Kon-Tiki, Eddie The Eagle, because I have a special interest in productions based on real stories. Music is my greatest assistant when I draw. I especially listen to good examples of all genres without focusing on one. Latin, Alternative, Blues are the some of the genres I usually listen to. If I should mention some, they would be Sarah Blasko, Koop, Mon Laferte, B.B King, Buena Vista Social Club, Marvin Gaye, Anne Brun, Rodriguez, Andrew Bird, and Rodrigo Leao.