– Interview with Ozgur Erman -


Ozgur Erman is an illustrator, painter and animation artist from Istanbul, Turkey. Following the growing interest for the recent events in the streets of this city, we asked Ozgur to keep a sort of “graphic diary” for few weeks, that will filter the local situation through his artistic sensibility, and share it with our this interview, we discuss the feelings, strategies and general opinions of this talented young man.

RP: Can you please describe one regular day of a hard-working artists named Ozgur Erman?

I work as a concept artist in a post-production company. It's a full time job, mostly stressfull and tiring. But if I have a project in mind, or just an inspiring idea, I sketch and take notes in every opportunity I find. This can be drawing to my skecthbook while taking the tube, taking notes in a coffee break at work, or talking about it with a friend. Because of my job I could easily complain about not finding time for doing personal things even though after a stressfull day at work it's always a relief to dig in my own mind.

RP: We can say that being in Istanbul at the moment, you have the opportunity to see the history being created in front of your eyes..can you describe the feelings and thoughts that you, as an individual, are experiencing nowadays?

The first month of the resistance was surreal, espeacially the Taksim Square was amazing. I will always feel lucky that I've seen that. The days when the Gezi Parkı was occupied by the protestors were wonderful. I went there every evening after work and felt freedom and peace while breathing that air. Every night I came back home smiling, full of good feelings. I thought about this after the night the police attacked Gezi, and threw people out brutally. We saw this beauty once, and we know nothing will be the same again ever. I know terrible things kept happening since then, but I can't go back to normal. I partly left my life before the resistance and opened my eyes to another life. I think a lot of people feel the same way.

RP: How do you feel about future? Both your personal and the future of Istanbul streets? In your opinion, where does this all lead to?

To be honest, that feeling changes time to time. Sometimes I'm full of hope, sometimes I feel pure fear. But everything is diffrent now for sure, we are much aware of what's going on in our country, and in the world. I don't know where this will all lead to, but wherever it goes, people will resist, shout, and react. So wherever it goes, it's with us, they won't be able to control everything by themselves anymore.

RP: I have noticed that you are sometimes struggling between your commercial work at your job and your artistic side of that feels sometimes? In your opinion, where is the center of your soul and affinities, in which of these sides?

I think I answered this roughly in the first question, but let me explain it a little more. I don't know if I will quit doing commercial work one day, probably. But in the meantime, this creates anger. And with that anger I react. Having an everyday fulltime job keeps me alive, I deal with people, deal with problems. This inspires me in a different ways.

RP: Your visual language communicates very easy with the readers from all meridians, actually..Can you tell us about your developlment as an artist, which visual experiences have formed you and influenced you the most? Which artists, movies, bands you feel similar and close to your sensibility?

Hope I'm not repeating myself in my answers but it's true and easy for me to say my visual language is powered by the cartoons I watched all of my life. The cartoons are the reason why I started to draw. Back in my childhood, my parents told me that I drew cowboys and Mexicans and American natives. From early on, I wanted to study and learn animation. I also discovered "the world of" Turkish comic magazines, in my puberty. That had a big influence on the dark side of my art. I mix the two sides to each other.

RP: What would be your message, advice, your words of hope for the young and developing artists from the rest of the world?

Never give up your freedom.