What is your name and your current occupation?
I work as a visual development artist (sometimes only as a color stylist) and character designer for projects in games, animation and commercials.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I did an internship as a personal assistant for a fashion designer named Bahar Korcan. Since I moved to the States for college and stayed, I wasn’t able to pursue anything outside the limits of my degree.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
It’s really more about the people I work with for me, but if I were to look back as individual projects I’d probably say the 30ft digital display on top of Target HQ in Minneapolis, the interactive Rome music video by Chris Milk, and anything I was a part of at Elastic.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m originally from Turkey. I came to the States to study at Otis College Of Art And Design. I tried to venture out as much as possible and upon graduating I was lucky enough to start working in both games and commercials, which eventually also lead to feature animation.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Being a freelance artist and frequently changing projects creates different types of work days. I might have to wake up at 7am to be on a call if I’m working for a company on the east coast, or I might be waking up at 6am to be on set by 7. Still, for the most part I’m at studio by 10pm to go over any notes or briefs, check up with my director and go over what needs to be accomplished. I let them stop by whenever they have time, because I find that the spontaneous visits from good directors often bring up a spontaneous idea or angle that makes my work better. I usually wrap up by 7 and e-mail my progress unless something extraordinary is going on.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Preproduction. I like it the most because it gives you a chance to add something personal to the project.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
It’s hard to follow a project’s lead if there isn’t a strong story or concept. In commercials this happens often, as the hero of the project is the product. Otherwise I’m only upset when a great job wraps up and everyone has to go home.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?
It’s most likely because I have only worked for a couple of years so far, but I still process everything the same way. My paintings are usually digital, in Photoshop, and my character sketches are usually traditional (though the paint over is usually digital). I find that on the preproduction end, my clients usually just want a really good design or idea. They don’t really care how it’s rendered.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Depends on which area, but I’d say working with people who aren’t interested in cultivating the story/idea.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
When I was still in school, my mentor Cathy Jones put Carter Goodrich and me in touch. This was back when CTNX didn’t exist, and we couldn’t just go up to Peter De Seve or Dice Tsutsumi and talk with them. My mind was blown! Since then I was able to learn from or work with really amazing people (Mike Humphries, Will Weston, Chris Appelhans, Marcelo Vignali and so forth), so I consider myself a lucky duck.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Somehow I’m a magnet for random tough situations that are almost comedic, the kinds of things you would laugh at in a movie. So I just try to laugh at the though situations, and nothing really seems that dire in retrospect.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I just took part in a convention for the first time. I printed a personal sketchbook, and an illustration book I split with my friend Elsa Chang. I’m looking into finding different outlets for stories.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Not a talent but I always take pictures when I find a photo booth (but only real photo booths, no cheating!), and always send postcards when I travel. Though not unusual, my biggest hobby is probably photography. I occasionally work for music blogs as a photographer, shooting musicians.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I’d say be yourself. Create something that is honest and meaningful to you, and not what you think other people want to see.