Hello. This is Ulas, a Turkish illustrator based in Amsterdam. I've been drawing full time for the past 6 years and here's what it means to me.
How did I start?
We all know the story: That one friend stuck at a 9 to 5 grind, who decides one day to finally quit her job to follow her 'dreams'. Well, that's me. It took me 3 degrees (none of which I eventually made use of) to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, but I finally did it. Ex-brand manager turned illustrator, today I draw full time but I still provide creative consultancy to brands on the side.
What medium and subject?
I mostly create figurative portraits. I start almost every piece on paper, usually doing a few rough sketches at first. However I do most of the painting digitally. I try not to mentally construct a visual language before starting a piece. Experimenting on the go instead affords more room for creativity. Typically, I prefer to listen to the story of my subject in person and I try to let go of my preconceived ideas about the elements I hear in their story as much as possible.
I had the chance to spend time in various parts of the world and I find it fascinating how different people believe themselves to be from one another despite the wide set of similarities they unknowingly share. This observation has sparked an interest in me to learn more about culture in general. I've read a lot about collective memory, nation-states, family as a social institution and gender identity (maybe those 3 degrees were not a complete waste of time, after all). I genuinely believe that what we define as identity on a personal level is formed at the intersection of these four major forces and I enjoy exploring that in my work.
If you look closely, you'll see that certain imagery repeats itself in my portraits and illustrations. The failed male gaze, moustaches, Ottoman miniature painting are all references to the way that I think identity relates to gender, family and the elusive perception of nation.
When observed separately, the stories I tell in these artworks might not come off as similar, but when read through the perspective of the ideas I mention above, they sit well together. Sort of like the legacy of a dysfunctional family perpetuated over many generations. That's why I wanted to call the select works I share here on my online portfolio DYNASTY.
After all, what is a dynasty but a tight-knit group of similar people who are oblivious to each other?