Featured Illustrator

Tamer Koseli

April 2018

Fulled by caffeine Tamer Koseli gets up to some marvelous things 😀Tamer tells us all about how he drew logos all over the place when he was a kid to now pushing his personal project of drawing 5 landmarks a week!

When did you fall in love with the design and how did you get started?

I was really into the NBA growing up. The NBA logo was one of my favourites. I can’t remember how many times I re-drew it. I know it’s a cliche but I was always sketching, doodling, especially trying to imitate the same style of the logos for my hometown or imaginary project on any surface. I remember once my father found the drawings that I had done behind the carpet that was hanging on the wall ( don’t know why my parents hung a carpet on the wall either :-) he was really pissed off. That was the end of my graffiti career :-) I was always obsessed with things that look visually aesthetic to me. I was paying much more attention to the graphics on the toys and the packing instead of the toy itself. Growing up in Switzerland was like living in graphic heaven. Everything was so perfectly designed. I lived in Switzerland until 9 years old but I still remember how simple & bold was the logo of Banque Cantonale de Fribourg. Then we moved back to Turkey, not much happened until I got my first computer when I was going to high-school. The first thing that I did was set up a pirated copy of Macromedia Flash and trying to learn everything about it. Damn those were the days.

What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened?

Well, I actually didn’t have time to plan anything, I didn’t worry about the future. I just did what it was fun to me and tried to enjoy as much as I could. I studied two majors at University (Fashion & Industrial Design). Back then, everything that had graphic design in it was more interesting to me so I tried to add graphic design to every school assignment and started sharing it online. At that time there was one platform that I knew “DeviantArt”. After a couple of projects, I started to get small jobs and I kept going. Updated my portfolio regularly and tried to promote myself on various platforms. Everything was going great till I had to give a brief break (6 months) during my mandatory military service in Turkey. Although, I kept drawing during my service. I was drawing a lot of tactical maps by hand and also making copies still by hand. After I finished my service I floundered a bit, It was really hard to get used to civil/freelance life. I was always curious about how it might feel to work at a design studio/agency so I applied for a job, got the job but I could only withstand it for one day and I resigned the very next day. That was the day I realised that I wasn’t that kind of a day job person. Although sometimes it is hard to maintain freelancing, you have to do literally all the jobs by yourself; communicate with the client, invoicing, then chasing the payments, legal matters, taxes, promotion of your own work and do the actual stuff that makes you happy at the same time. Recently I had finally found time to update my portfolio and I realised that it's been two years without any updates... But I really like what I am doing, every day is a new challenge for me… new clients, new projects, new opportunities…

What does a typical working day include for you right now?

A typical day starts with sipping a cup of espresso while I’m reading/answering the e-mails. Then I check if there is any deadline because I usually do a couple of different projects in a day. If there is, firstly I try to finish it and e-mail it back to the client. While I am waiting for the feedback from the client I drink some tea, and I start to prepare Symbolicities Postcards & Prints for the retail shops in Istanbul or to send a customer then pick up those and go out re-stock the shops and send the posts. On my way out, I stop by at a coffee shop nearby for another dose of caffeine also to check if I’ve got any feedback, then go back home to cook something (I really love to cook btw) and eat in front of the TV while watching a show on Youtube/Netflix.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

In 2013, I started to illustrate symbols of Istanbul because I didn’t like what I had seen. I really liked the process of doing research and illustrating it, so I moved on to other cities and shared them on Instagram. At first, I illustrated the cities that I already have been, then the cities that I would like to go. Because I learn a lot about the cities before I go also I can see if there is any difference between the landmark itself and my illustration :) For the last two years, I started producing postcards and prints of the illustrations. After I got the prints from the print shop (which is run by a friend of mine here in Istanbul) I try to do everything by hand. I emboss each print and pack them carefully. Because I spent most of my time in front of the computer I really enjoy doing handcraft things like that, it feels relaxing. Also, I try to illustrate 5 landmarks for a city each week but sometimes I take a break from it and enjoy the time with friends. What is the meaning of life if you aren’t enjoying it with friends, right? :)

Are you involved in any mentoring/teaching/workshops and if so how it shapes your practice?

You know when you do something a lot you start doing it without even thinking of what you are doing, like a behaviour, a routine... When I was preparing for my first lecture/workshop I started to ask questions again “why am I doing it in that way?” “is there any other way?’ and then I noticed that I missed that some parts without realising it at all. Sometimes students ask questions or tell something that I didn’t even think of, so it gives me another perspective. You never stop learning. So after that whenever I feel like I start doing things unconsciously, I start paying more attention and try to look at it from another angle and ask more questions about it.

What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why?

Honestly, I don't listen to podcasts or read design books/blogs as much as I did while I was a student. I remember that I read every book that was in graphic design section in the University Library. I was consuming everything that was related to design. I think that is a process I mean there are times that you want to learn everything about something and times that you say enough and you start to digest until you feel hungry again. But I can say there is one movie that I can’t forget it “The Five Obstructions” by Lars von Trier and one book “Square, Circle, Triangle” by Bruno Munari. Those are the two things that influenced me a lot and I think worth to check out if you are interested in design.

Website: tamerkoseli.com

Instagram: @tamerkoseli

Twitter: @tamerkoseli


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