EVEN IF YOU DON'T FOLLOW POPULAR CULTURE, IT FOLLOWS YOU
Interview with Baysan Yuksel
“Istanbul is a huge and cosmopolitan city. It is really hard to live and survive in here. Each part of the city is different and has its own unspoken rules. In order to live and survive in here you make sacrifices. And those sacrifices mostly affect your personal life. I think this unstable and restless atmosphere of the city makes artists more creative.”
Turkish illustrator Baysan Yuksel has contributed to the Risha website with a story that is playing with stereotypes connected with human relationships. In this short interview, we tried to discover Baysan's background, her taste for art and few more things.
RP: Can you tell us a bit about your educational background? Seems that Turkish scene is producing interesting illustrators, can you maybe compare your local art universities with those from abroad?
- I studied sociology, film and television and after that I had my masters on fine arts. I don’t know about the universities outside the country but I don’t really think art education makes an artist interesting. On the contrary it does not.
Istanbul is a huge and cosmopolitan city. It is really hard to live and survive in here. Each part of the city is different and has its own unspoken rules. In order to live and survive in here you make sacrifices. And those sacrifices mostly affect your personal life. You have to make choices almost every minute, and that’s tiring. I think this unstable and restless atmosphere of the city makes artists more creative.
RP: The story you created for the Risha website is a bit gentle and sad..What was the main source of inspiration for it? Was that a local legend, your personal experience, or something else?
- The story is fictive but as in most fictions it has a little bit of experience in it (either mine or some else’s), and a bit of legends and the stories that I listened to while I was growing up.
RP: Your art varies from illustration, design and painting to children book illustration, with strong influence of contemporary popular culture..where do you see yourself among all these disciplines? Which one of these practices has influenced or inspired you the most?
- I am an artist and for me the different mediums I choose to express myself are just different mediums. I believe that art comes from feelings and ideas. An artist is a person who sees, hears, touches, smells, tastes and feels things, but in his or her own way, and shares it with other people. To me, it is as simple as this.
Although my influences vary, they mostly come from popular culture because we are surrounded by it and there is no way to escape from it. Even if you don’t follow popular culture, it follows you.
RP: As a designer who often has opportunities for commisioned work, what is your opinion on such terms as independence, creative integrity, autorship? Are they endangered in this kind of work, or such circumstances can be considered as a challenge?
- I see illustration as the most creative area in design, and mostly if it’s for magazines and books you’re almost free to draw in your own way. But when you draw illustrations or make designs for serious commercial work or companies, there might be many other people there who have ideas. They can push you to leave your own ideas and obey theirs. So you kind of become an art worker for them, and not an artist with his or her original creativity.
And I don’t think that too many limitations in your creativity could be considered as a challenge.
RP: Is there maybe a book that you always dreamt of illustrating? Or, what would be your dream job?
- Not really. I enjoy reading a lot but I can not remember any specific book that I dreamt to illustrate. Maybe it’s because I’d like to illustrate anything that has a soul and that speaks to me.
And most of all i want to illustrate my own stories.
I think, when something is called as job it has nothing to do with dreams. But my dream would be to do what I want in arts and for the sake of arts, and never think about money and how to make it (:
RP: While preparing the Risha project, we have visited Istanbul, and found out that it's a very dynamic, vibrant and urban place. Can you give us some interesting first-hand info about the local scene? Which musicians, bands, artists and galleries would you recommend to a random traveller?
- Nowadays I’m not really following the local scenes. The last concert I’ve been to was two months ago. It was the local band Kimkio’s concert for their new album Grounds.
I can recommend the travellers to go to Taksim, Tünel, Galata, Karaköy and Kadıköy area. Most of the local scenes are happening and living there.
RP: How do you relate to the local art scene? How do you see its weaknessess and strenghts?
I’m connected both with the underground art scene and the commercial art scene. It may seem as two opposites, but to me they are not, because since i know myself the only thing I could do and enjoy doing was art, in all kinds. So it is a path for me, both in terms of career and expressing myself freely.
The good thing about local art scene could be that it is well-connected and networked. But that is also a bad thing because it sometimes becomes a closed area within itself that does not give chance to newcomers and really good artists. Underground art scene is not like that. Art is there for the sake of art, and that’s why I don’t want to quit it also.
see more of Baysan's illustrations at