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20th Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition (Department of Art Colorado State University in Fort Collins, USA) Award. More Info / 2017

Interview / 2018

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
— My relationship with graphic design was inevitable. I associate design with play. Drawing, painting, writing were pleasurable playtime pursuits in my childhood and teenage years. They were also my preferred means of expression. Obviously, these expressive means which I had internalized as a child also happen to be the primary tools of expression in graphic design. Of course, on top of these, the tools or the language of the photographer, artist, carpenter, and filmmaker can also be my materials. I am fortunate that my playtime continues. I still experience the joy of playing in all the professional or personal jobs that I take on. 

What do you look for in a great portfolio?
— For me, what’s important isn’t what the designer has already done but what he or she is capable of doing in the future. So, as well as finished projects, I’d also like to look at things that indicate the extent of personal capacity, such as unfinished personal projects, notes and sketches. 

What do you look for in a great client?
— For me, an outstanding client doesn’t get too stuck on what’s in their mind but instead is curious about what’s in mine. 

What have been some of your biggest disasters and how have you learnt from it?
— Yes, it’s a funny story.
— I was 18 years old and hadn’t yet become a fine arts student. I was working in the graphics department of a local newspaper in Adana, a small town with not much of a background in graphic design. A nighclub there had a tradition of publishing a notice of appreciation in the next day’s newspaper to the performing artists who performed on their stage. I was in charge of preparing these notices. So that time, as usual, I changed the name and the date on the previous notice I’d prepared for the artists on the earlier programme, I submitted the work and it was published the next day. But there was a problem, I had forgotten to change the introduction “Respectable Madam.. ”. Unfortunately, this time the performer was a man and this was utterly unacceptable in Adana, a town renowned for its machismo.
This experience taught me the importance of strict double-checking before saying good-bye to the work. 

What advice would you give students starting out?
— Don’t get stuck within the boundaries of the profession. Have curiosity for what’s going on outside it. Always keep your interest alive in fields such as cinema, literature, photography, architecture, philososphy and others. This curiosity will serve to improve your professional skills and comprehension. It will introduce a new dimension to your work. It will enhance your sense of decorum.
— Don’t take your job so seriously that it becomes a matter of life and death. This will make you rigid. Develop a sense of humour in order to gain more flexibility.
— Step out of the well-trodden path from time to time and enjoy the challenge of following a different method. Don’t always take the safe route your computer offers you. Follow a route that appears in your head, be silly, take logic apart, get out of control. Because at the end of the day, the “fundamental guidelines” of the job will help you tidy up the mess. What you’ll gain, on the other hand, may surprise you.
— And always remember your responsibility as a human being. Because our profession is capable of giving a strong voice to ideas. And to achieve the ideal of a “better” world, we must absolutely give a strong voice to “better” ideas.
— Once in a while, raise your heads to take a look at where you currently are from the outside. Just like coming up for air when you’re swimming. When you do this on regular basis, you get into the habit of re-assessing and re-comprehending where you are, the times you’re in and most importantly, who you are. 

Mehmet Ali Türkmen,
The Design Kids, Melbourne
April 2018

Many thanks to Işık Schools for honouring me with 'The Award for people who enlighten Sports, Arts and Design' in the category of Visual Arts and Design, this year / 2018

AGI New Members 2007-2017 book and question-answer

What were your impressions of AGI before you became a member and how have these changed since you became a part of it?
— AGI membership heightened my sense of professional responsibility. It gave me a burst of professional vitality. To make an analogy, I can compare it to a guy taking up sports because he started dating a beautiful woman. It inspired me to get fit. 

How do you see graphic design developing in the future and how do you see yourself evolving along that path?
— The future is an infinite and indefinite concept. But sure, I can make some predictions.
— There is a possibility that the increasing practicality of production materials and technological advancements and the resulting “open-buffet style” accessibility of diversity in expression may lead to obesity in both designs and their consumers.
— I suspect that a future filled with fast-flowing information and a bombardment of imagery awaits us. Under such conditions, simple, comprehensible and functional designs may come to the forefront. Technological advancement will definitely influence dramatic changes in graphic design especially in terms of expression and form but I doubt that its primary role and purpose as a facilitator of communication will change. The increasing diversity in expression will not only enhance functionality but also enable the building of more soulful and pleasurable connections with people.
— Our profession is open to inderdisciplinary exchange which expands the scope of our talents to encompass multiple artistic fields. In visual arts, the interdisciplinary boundaries have been crossed and there is more permeability. Production tools are now very practical to use. Consequently, graphic designers who used to work on commissioned projects are now engaging more in the pursuit of their personal interests and, in some cases, becoming artists. This transitivity may increase in the future.
— For me, graphic design is like a fun game, an extremely pleasurable pastime if you like, in which I move within defined frameworks to make and unmake things, create or discover new meanings by using type, photography, illustration and etc. Whatever form this game takes, I like it and I am ready to adapt. I’ll harmonize with it as much as I can and when I can’t, I’ll just take the byroads on which I can freely ride. Because at the end of the day, graphic design is a vast, multi-disciplinary field. 

More immediately, what challenges are graphic designers facing today?
— It is a wonderful time to be a designer. The opportunities and possibilities that are out there enable us to think more freely and give us the practical means to express and actualize our ideas.
— We have access to more ways and means of expressing our ideas now. We can use motion, three dimensionality and sound for instance. It may be a challenge to have to adapt to these new tools. But if you’ve already mastered the basics of design, then it’s not a problem. Because all you need to do is surround yourself with people who can use these tools. Getting too good at using these tools can often lead to getting used by these tools as well. So it may even be a good thing to keep your distance in order to free yourself from limitations. In that way, you can be as demanding as you wish.
— With the advancements in technology, production has become much easier. The ready-made patterns and effects have led to a surplus of mediocre designs. So now the difference between good design and bad design has become more imprecise. These works that are produced quickly and effortlessly also have a negative impact on the overall value of design. 

While electronic and time-based media are now omnipresent, what role do you see printed media playing now and in the future?
— In the future, there will probably be less paper and more digital media around. But I don’t think printed media is going to disappear completely. Responding to a question on whether the e-book will replace the printed book, Umberto Eco draws this analogy: “The book is like the spoon, the hammer, the wheel or the scissors. Once invented, it cannot be improved”. 

Mehmet Ali Türkmen,
AGI New Members 2007-2017 book

It is great to be with this magnificent persons. Thanks to Steven Heller & Gail Anderson
The Typography Idea Book: Inspiration from 50 Masters / Laurence King Publishing

From the publisher:

Playing with typographic puzzle pieces is one of the joys of graphic design and typographers have many entertaining, esoteric and eccentric options at their disposal. The Typography Idea Book presents 50 of the most inspiring approaches used by masters of the field from across the world.
— Geared towards helping you evolve different typographic styles, the book contains none of the technical jargon or tired old rules found in traditional tutorials but is packed with practical techniques and iconic examples. From type transformation to abstraction, via overlapping, hand-lettering, vectorizing, novelty typefaces and puns, discover all the brilliant ideas you could be bringing to your own designs.


'No Words Posters: One Image is Enough'
It is a book project that leaded by Italian designer Armando Milani which has 200 posters in it about social issues created without any words. MAT took a place in this book project with his poster named 'Conscience'
Rit Press, Italya / 2015

Slanted #24 — Istanbul issue has just arrived, including couple of my works along with many interesting contemporary design and art works done by Turkish designers and artists, next to an interview conducted in my studio space.

How attractive is Istanbul for (young) graphic designers and what makes the scene in Istanbul special?
— Istanbul is a large metropolitan area harboring numerous lifestyles, beliefs, and cultures that are completely different than one another. It has this rich energy coming from the unity, togetherness of these different cultures and characters.
— It is the city to come to for the youth stuck in their small hometowns, provinces to be themselves. It is like a station, a pit stop that youth stops at before being opening up to the world where they get together and discover themselves; it is like an intersection with roads going out in every possible direction.
— Besides all, Istanbul is a place where they can be freer, different types of people live together, and where there are more opportunities. With the economic growth in the recent years, the number of graphic design offices has also increased. Even the advertising agencies started in-house design departments within their organizations.
— Certain regions of Istanbul where arts and culture are produced, developed, and consumed rapidly are like a student lounge for the youth where they share their time, ideas, and enrich one another. On the other hand, it is a city that never sleeps and is alive day-and-night. This alone can be a reason for youth to prefer Istanbul.
— There are no standards in Istanbul; it is a city of improvised living in the spur-of-the-moment. While it can be annoying for the locals at times, this again can be tempting for the youth.

Does Istanbul’s fast growing and changing city have any effect on designers?
— The increased economic growth and socio-cultural revival of the city created new business opportunities. It has become a city where the number of both national and international brands rapidly increased. Meanwhile, due to Istanbul’s integration with the world and its openness to outside, design approach has also thrived and diversity increased.
— The design world, all of which formerly seemed to have come from a single source and been formed in a narrow society, expanded. New designers with different backgrounds and different characters started to emerge, enriching the design approach.
— We started to make more diverse statements using novel expressions. The city walls that used to be covered with monotonous political slogans or standardized uniform fonts with warning messages such as “No littering!” are now filled with announcements of the ever-increasing arts and culture activities and the political/personal matters that are expressed in diversified text, stencil, and poster variations today.

What is unique and inspiring about Istanbul?
— Istanbul, as one of the oldest cities in the world, is a mysterious, mystical city of many layers where traces of each layer are visible. Such a city where each cultural layer from its thousands of years of history that are around in various shapes and sizes, everything accumulated in the urban memory and all the sounds, colors, and characters that seem unlikely to come together are united, where all sorts of surprises seem around the corner can be inspiring for young designers. For example, even the flea markets here that are filled with highly esthetic east-west hybrids of graphic design produced at the turn of century that one cannot encounter elsewhere can give the feeling of being in a graphic design museum.

Are there difficulties in being a designer in Istanbul/Turkey? Are you restricted in your work or opportunities in any way?
— As the advertising agencies started to open in-house design departments, it became really hard for small design offices to compete with such organizations. Unfortunately, it got to a point where we feel like local grocery stores competing with supermarket chains.

Does traditional art have any influence on your work?
— Quite frankly, I never had any sort of concern over my driving motives being traditional or international. For the idea to be more clear and obvious, I try to use expression styles that will not compete with it.
— Not only do traditional motives but the current motives create a familiarity as well. These conditions formed with assented, conventional motives conceal the idea behind work and blocks its individuality. The familiarity of the form anonymizes the work and makes it invisible. This familiarity in traditional and current forms/motives is not just a concealer of the content of the work but is also a curtain, a barrier for the beholder as well.
— When not concerned with traditional or current motives, the work itself always gave away its form to me.
— I find it restraining to find an expression style and to use that particular style for a lifetime. I am more concerned with the uniqueness of what is expressed than the style used to express it.
— In the end, I do not express my ideas with a standard form; In each work, I use the expression tone or form that will increase the strength of the idea behind. What enables me to do such thing is the endless wealth of expression possibilities that is provided in my profession.

How is the relationship between politics and design in Turkey? What impact does this topic have in your work?
— It never had a major impact on my work.

It seems there are more advertising agencies than design studios. Why?
— Yes, majority of the graphic design works around are still produced at advertising agencies. Because the advertising agencies do not want to miss out on any opportunity that may be available at their clients and are after the money the client will spend on design as well and to provide a total service to big brands, they include their design needs in these services as well.
— I am hoping that these agencies will start opening these in-house “graphic design departments” independently, outside their agencies as should be. They will still keep their clients but this way the clients will form a habit of going to graphic design studios instead of advertising agencies for their graphic design needs.

How does society accept/receive design?
— Unfortunately, graphic design does not have any value in the eye of the layperson. They view it as if they could do it themselves if they tried hard enough or had the tools necessary…

What significant trends do you see emerging in Turkey and across Europe? How do you think the future will look like?
— Competition will increase even more; a lot of work will be produced. In this day and age where we have become image-crazy, in order to make each work they produce and put out more visible, the designers will push their limits in surprising and shocking people. They will have to satisfy the ruthless consumer that keeps saying, “Surprise me!” “Surprise me!” The designer and the consumer will simultaneously increase their thresholds for surprising and being surprised, the designers will develop an urge/limb to surprise (!)
— We have become quickly-bored, fast-consuming people. The society resembles a teenager whose interest constantly needs to be kept alive. Therefore it seems that graphic design will be more dynamic and lively. The illustrative mindset will become widespread, more images will be built, and manipulation will increase. It will feel like being in a jungle of stimulations as in an amusement park.

How important is humor?
— Humor is actually one of the key elements of graphic design. It is a sense that surely needs to be developed, if missing. It's not only your font folder that counts, but your sense of humor. Humor keeps things flexible, prevents being conservative, enables to stretch thoughts, and can put together things that don’t usually come together.
— Humor increases the designer’s self-confidence and courage. It can break down the dynamics of the work and can easily convert it into something different.
— For me, humor makes working, searching for an idea more fun and entertaining. What more could one ask for?

Mehmet Ali Türkmen,
Slanted Magazine, Istanbul Issue 24
14. 07. 2014

And also, the headlines in this issue is written with the font Kabuk Inline

Designed for AGI London 2013 Special Tea Cup Project under the theme ‘Dialogue’. Flow Gallery, Notting Hill

‘Unterwegs’ (On the way) poster, has won the “Certificate of Typographic Excellence”, Type Directors Club, New York. It will be included in the Annual of ‘The Type Directors Club, Typography 34′, and will also be shown at the ’59th Awards Exhibition’ in New York. The winners will also be included in 7 exhibitions touring cities in the United States, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam / 2013

This poster is created for Portuguese graphic designer Inês Nepomuceno’s project titled “The End is Where We Begin.” It’s about designers’ visions about the world economic crises that we are facing / 2013

Cut online magazine için kısacık söyleşi:

MAT Tasarım, 2003 yılından bu yana müşterileri ve kendisi için projeler üreten ve bu projelere göre de büyüyen ve küçülen, bağımsız ve küçük, ama hareket alanı geniş bir atölyedir.

Zaaflarım karakterimdir:) Normalde çözmen gereken hastalıklı gibi duran zaaflar, takıntılar, arızalar yaratıcılıkla ilgili bir işte, farklı bakma sebebi de olabiliyor.

Altını çizmek istedikleriniz?
Üstünü çizdiklerimden geriye kalan. Evet, biraz çöplük hesabı yani, ayıklayarak görenlerdenim.

İlham nasıl oluyor da oluyor?
Odaklandığında görünüyor gibi sanki.

Fikir dediğiniz nedir ki?
Kaybolmamanı sağlar, dağılmanı engeller.

Hangi müşteri gelsin?
Aklındakini aramayan, aklımızdakini merak eden, başka fikre açık olan.

Hangi müşteri gelmesin?
Kürek çekenlerden biri de ben olduğum için boşa kürek çektirmesin, çok kalabalık değiliz.

Atölyede şu anda yeni çıkacak bir marka için kimlik çalısması yapılıyor ve de ayrıca uzun süredir devam eden kişisel projemle meşgulüm.

Şubat 2013

Cover artwork for ‘Zero Istanbul’ event and culture magazine. Istanbul: Saints, Angels, Devils, Flittermouses, Gulls, Martins… / 2012

The book ‘One by One: Graphic Designer Of The World Today’ in which Mehmet Ali Türkmen take part is now published, Hesign Publishing, Berlin. The book features the work of 500 graphic designers worldwide, providing an extensive overview of international contemporary design / 2012

Following the invitation of the AIGA in Chicago I produced this little video for the International 
Small Talk Films / 2012

Designed for AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale) Barcelona 2011 Special Exhibition Project. Project’s theme: ‘Modular’. Place at La Sala Vinçon Gallery

Mehmet Ali Türkmen got the Honorable Mention at the 17th Biennial Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition. The poster awarded is titled ‘The effect of reborn’ and has been designed for Effect (Welfare association in Bremen). The exhibition is open September 3 through October 13, 2011 in the Clara Hatton Gallery / Visual Arts Building. The Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition was founded in 1979 at Colorado State University, Fort Collins (USA) and highlights excellence in poster design from leading and emerging graphic designers from around the globe. Year after year, each CIIPE exhibition has been unique for its presentation of prevailing social, cultural and commercial perspectives. The 17th edition is featuring works of 90 artists from 33 countries. More Info / 2011

Solo exhibition, Bremen / 2011

The artist Ohannes Şaşkal used Mehmet Ali Türkmen’s font ‘Font 2070′ as inspiration for drawing while working with the İstanbul based Turkish-Armenian newspaper ‘Agos’ / 2010

And Font 2070′s alphabet

Designed for AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale) Porto 2010 special project. Project’s theme: ‘Mapping the process’. Approach: ‘My plan, of course, is milking points of reference’

And project’s book / Curator: R2 Design

Solo Exhibition and seminar at Grafist 13 (13th International İstanbul Graphic Design Week) / 2009

Interview for Grafist 13 Catalogue:

Semra Güler: Should a graphic designer have their own visual style? How would you describe your design process in this context?
Mehmet Ali Türkmen: After solving the brief, I believe that there is no problem with a designer including their personal visual style in their work. It could even be that the client wants the designer to solve the problem by including these style elements. I consider this to be the right approach. To me design is a form of play, a pleasurable game where you’re given a limited space and materials; such as typeface, photography and illustration. These we use to engage in brainstorming, a process we can lose ourselves in and where time seems to run away with us.

SG: Are you influenced by other visual media?
MAT: Of course. Graphic design can be considered as the meeting point of all design disciplines where we incorporate all visual and material elements in our work, while at the same time, always being open to new ideas, however novel and unusual. It is essential for an interaction of ideas between members of our profession and those related to it, and this mutuality between related visual professions I find to be a very enriching experience. For example; the main reason why Mac is more understandable and legible over the competition is due to Steve Jobs’ interest in typography.

SG: Apart from your design work, you are also known as a talented illustrator. Can you tell us about this aspect of your work, and about your latest book, ‘Same Condition’?
MAT: Drawing provides me with a reason to isolation myself from the crowd – a kind of therapy if you like. I can spend my time just looking at rooftops, ships, crows, the sky, or whatever. It is only after a while of looking that the crow is no longer a crow, the brick is more than just a brick, you find yourself looking at them and seeing other things. My drawing is an escape for me, or perhaps it is a state where my innermost sentiments are revealed… I don’t know. As the name of this album implies I attempt to describe that same condition as nature, the environment, those things that surround me, and my own experiences offer. I know that my drawings have helped my flexibility when I embark on graphic design projects.

SG: What are your feelings about the role and development of photography on graphic design?
MAT: Photography is an effective tool for creating perception, and in its present advanced state, it has created a lot more elbow-room for us designers. Today, photography is that more easy to manipulate, and we therefore, can think more visually and can create more possibilities using photography. We can solve the design problem through the use of photographs only, and even write a text using only photographs. For instance, we can even photograph typography. Photography is no longer just a subsidiary discipline to interact with … the same goes for typography. Our choice of photography is no different than our choice of typography. We are familiar with the culture and styles of photography to the same extent that we know about which font to use and why, the spaces and quotation marks etc. A notepad and a pencil used to be enough for taking notes. Designers today take notes with a camera.

SG: What do you feel about your profession within Turkey?
MAT: Recently my friend told me a story of how he was commissioned by a board-member of a major Turkish organization. He handed my friend the sketch of a logo drawn the night before by his teenage daughter using her ruler, the lid of a pickle jar and the colouring pencils she uses at school, and told him “this will do if you just make a fair copy of this”.
The client should not try and determine the brands he’s creating or representing through his own personal taste. We try to convince the client that the brand identity we are trying to create, and our own identity, are two different things. Today, advertising agencies try to take on work that should be done by independent design studios. They do this work for free, and offer it as a bonus to the client along with the advertising work that they normally do. We are now slowly coming to the end of that era… So yes, there are such negative aspects. Nevertheless, this does not justify an attitude where, “Amsterdam is so different, New York is so special!”. Those cities are home to brands that are over a hundred years old and galleries and museums that overflow with visitors day and night. We must not dwell upon the negative aspects of where we are. We have no choice but motivate ourselves to do our best, while not worrying too much about what we cannot control. Today, Turkey is rich with existing brands and new brands that wish to (re)create and ‘modernize(!)’ their identities. And for myself, I am endeavouring to involve myself with those projects where I can make a valuable contribution.

Grafist 13 book
12 October 2009

Hafriyat Art Group’s invitational poster exhibition: ‘Sense of Fear’ throughout the history of mankind. Fear of god and conscience’, Hafriyat Karaköy Gallery, Istanbul / 2007

Grafik Tasarım magazine published a review about this exhibition:

Forgetting about the subject of exibition and that you are a participant of this exhibition, can you tell us your objective feelings about the exhibition as if you were an outsider?
Well, we all know that it doesn’t matter whether a person is educated or uneducated, if you give him free rein anything can happen. As we have seen in the middle of the past century, civilization was responsible for the light-bulb, aspirin, and World War Two (where over 50 million people met their deaths). In our own lifetime we have seen control over others, and thus, bringing everyone into line. A sense of domestication over everything has been bred into us and censorship of the natural has become the norm. However, those who implement that control have been unable to control their own savage side, to the extent that they have iconized that wild aspect. Wildness and violence have become objects of lust. The control mechanisms that run through society from top to bottom have become redundant. Those control mechanisms -such as religion, government, the law, religious communities, father, husband- were aimed at preventing us from attempting anti-social deeds, and thus giving us a sense of order. This order has unfortunately transformed itself into a “power/owner” sort of relationship. This fear-based ‘power’ concept has created a form of ‘love and hate’ relationship within society. The subject of this exhibition, “The fear of God and conscience / The feeling of fear through the history of mankind”, is a concept that I have dwelled on a lot over the years and I confront it on many occasions nowadays.

Mehmet Ali Türkmen,
Grafik Tasarım magazine, issue 15
December 2007

From a review published in the Express magazine about this exibition:

What thoughts went through in your mind when you were invited to take part in the exhibition, ‘Fear of God’?
It can’t be healthy for us to love and worship an entity that possesses us through fear and threat but as it is, most of our dealings in life are based on fear. Life is like following a map that we have been given by the powers that control us and when we stray from that map, we find ourselves to be lost in unknown territory. As a result, we feel relaxed and reassured trust when “an entity is watching over us”. That entity prevents us from becoming savage and gives us peace. But, as we can see from all the blood letting and strife surrounding us, this system isn’t working. Using fear doesn’t work either…
After long analysis and brain-storming I felt fairly miserable with this concept, and I decided to concentrate on this idea of “being watched by” and “being prevented from becoming savage through conscience” and the results of this can be felt in my work.

Mehmet Ali Türkmen,
Express magazine
December 2007