Featured Design Studio

Atelier MAT

April 2018

The work of Mehmet Ali Türkmen—of Atelier MAT—oozes with playfulness! Mehmet fills us in on how he was lead to design as well as some disasters along the way and some greaaaaaaat tips to get playful with your own work!

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.

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I associate design with play.

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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.

2018 for you in a sentence.

This is the year I hope to make a leap of growth in my international portfolio.

Webste: matistanbul.net

Instagram: @mehmetaliturkmen

Facebook: /atelier.mat.istanbul

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