What led you into design?
While studying Business at the University of Hull, I took a class in eCommerce that covered digital marketing and basic web design. I had to study Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator CS3 from scratch for that. It was extremely exciting and hard at the same time. I did every tutorial I could find online back then, 3D text, image editing, you name it. It allowed me to quickly gain expertise and, as a result, I even got the highest score in the class. This was a real achievement that felt great. For a moment, I had a thought that this might be something I could do for a living, but I wasn’t so sure about it. It took me another two years to do a master's degree before I realized I had to make a commitment and do what I’m already good at.
After graduating, I followed the dream of living in Asia and moved to Shanghai, China to study Chinese language and Culture and to make the first steps in my career as a designer and illustrator. During the next years, I worked with creative and advertising agencies of various scope, local and international. It was an incredible journey that allowed me to work with real clients and focus on branding, web design and illustrations. The Chinese market is unique with its own rules, history, and approach. It helped me to learn so much about design, advertising, marketing, people and psychology. I would highly recommend visiting China to anyone looking for a way to broaden the perception of the world.
In the next few years I felt that something was off, while my interest in illustrations was growing, and I was more inspired by art than design. Finally, while working as a consultant for NBCUniversal (Universal Studios) I realized that the career of an artist is a dream that can't be postponed.
It all started with experimental sketching and the search for my own style. I kept drawing human and dinosaur heads before I understood how the rest should look like. At first, it was only black coloured line art that evolved to coloured characters and later more complex scenes. Today I’m a digital artist specializing in character design, vibrant colours, playful and experimental style highlighting significant events, pop culture and fashion.
What does a typical day look like?
I have a cute little Jack Russell Terrier that I have to take for a walk first thing in the morning. He loves to sleep, and I can’t count on him to wake me up. Never. Most of the time he wouldn’t even get off the bed himself, so I have to carry him outside. When he is outside, he starts acting like a normal dog, happy and excited about everything. Weird, I know.
After an hour-long energizing walk with a dog, I come home for a quick but healthy breakfast, always with a coffee. Coffee keeps me awake and gives a required boost. The morning is the time when I like to quickly sketch ideas. This practice gives me time to think about the ideas and continue with ideas that I like the most. During the day, I work on product and web design. This is still one of my passions, and I’m very excited about people using applications and websites that I designed. I take a break for Pilates and yoga in the middle of the day. It allows me to stay fit, healthy and active. It is always great to go for a run, but it gets up to 35 degrees during the day in Istanbul where I’m currently located. Honestly, this isn't something I can survive.
Later in the day, I return to drawing and finalizing the artworks. I spend a few hours working before going for another hour-long or so walk with my dog. After the dinner it is great to spend some quality time with a family, watching a film or YouTube laying on the sofa or just relaxing and chatting after the hard work.
What's your workstation setup?
It is worth mentioning that me, my wife and our dog often move and this constantly changes the workplace, but all the essentials are always the same. You will see.
To get things done I use MacBook Pro 16 inch and the latest iPad Pro 1Tb as it comes with 16Gb of memory that makes handling of larger files in Procreate smoother. For sketching, I use paper and pencil. Also, I’m painting with acrylic and oil and this requires a bunch of supplies starting from canvases, brushes, paints, etc.
Where do you go to get inspired?
It’s always exciting to look at what other contemporary artists are doing. Especially if you are just starting. I read biographies of famous artists to find out more about their journey, their work and what stands behind it.
Last year, I found a book about the architecture in the city where I used to live when I was a kid. The city looked dull to me back then. It was gray, most of the buildings looked like boxes, and I never realized what architects did for this city. That book opened my eyes and I started appreciating buildings that I never noticed and fell in love with the city in a new way.
I would really like to recommend finding a source of inspiration in different areas and not focus primarily on art. In the long run, this might limit your creativity. Visit an art museum, gallery, explore pop culture, fashion, listen to good music, take a walk and creativity will find you.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
You probably heard that everything in life is balanced. I think it works the same for my taste in great design/art. One day, I like something really simple and pragmatic. The next day I like something crazy, modern, and eccentric. Currently, I’m in love with the latest Crocs collaboration with Salehe Bembury. Check them out. This is a great, well-designed product. I did several artworks of these Crocs that will be featured in a book.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
Usually the latest pieces are my favourite. Since I’m constantly changing, I learned to appreciate the place I'm in right now. A few years ago I wanted to get a tattoo with one of the characters but couldn’t decide which one because every new artwork is better than the previous one.
What design challenges do you face at your company?
Do you ever feel that time is running so quickly and you are somewhere behind, trying always to catch up? It feels like others are better with time management, and they are somehow able to do so many things in no time. This is what today’s world and technology have done to us. It took me some time to realize that forcing something isn’t the best strategy and success doesn’t come overnight. Of course, it can happen if you are lucky enough. I learned it the hard way through disappointment, denial, and acceptance. I learned to appreciate the process, and I enjoy doing what I do more than ever.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
Learn to appreciate the journey more than the destination. Remember to spend more time with people you love. These are the memories you will cherish forever.
Anything you want to promote or plug?
I’m currently working on the NFT collection of eccentric characters and dedicating a lot of time to creating large canvases. You are welcome to see what I’m doing on Instagram.