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What is Merve Atılgan’s story? Please tell us about yourself.
I got my degree in animation and then tended for illustration. Illustration is a type of art that gives a lot of freedom to the artist and it is a great feeling to Picture the things in my mind as I wish and share this World with others. Apart from this ballet and dance are inseparable parts of my life. With the support of my life I had a life interbedded with very active sports and arts. Skiing and playing tennis are the sports I keep doing with pleasure for a long time. I also did rhythmic gymnastics in primary school and that contributed a lot to me. It is in my dough to be interested in different things, there is both dance and drawing.
What did you want to be when you were small, did you reach your dreams?
When I was a kid, I had a dream of being a super hero and this intention might still exist. I used to climb on top of the hand railings of the stairs and cry out “By the power of Grayskull, I have the power”. But the cartoon named Sailor Moon has a special place for me. Most of all I wanted to be Sailor Moon, it is the anime that caused me to draw and that is why it is very special for me. Generally I had interests in heros with super powers who fight. I was not in the group with intending to be a princess. Illustration has a very close side to these dreams of mine therefore I think my childhood dreams have in a way come true.
When did you start ballet? Is it possible to say that ballet contributed to your illustrations?
I started ballet when I was five years old and I actively do ballet. Actually ballet contributed so different properties. First of all there is this inner discipline it gives to the person which is beneficial for a lifetime. It changes the musical perception much and develops the person in audial way. It develops the art that includes the stage, decor, costume and theatre components and therefore aesthetic perception very much. Besides, even if it looks easy it has a very difficult side physically.
The greatest contribution of ballet to illustration is that it developed my visual perception and anatomy knowledge substantially.
How does illustration work with ballet? If you had to make a choice, which one would you prefer?
All my life I have been used to perform both of them so in fact it is not so hard for me, I learnt how to balance. For me, ballet is like leaving the whole world outside and turning into myself. Because today there are incidents happening in the world we live in that are very hard to perceive and accept. In order to escape even a little from these, dancing may be an escaping point. Similarly, whilst drawing I enter the World I own totally and therefore I cannot choose one over the other, for me they are so special.
What kind of materials do you like to use in your drawings? Technically how do you begin and how do you finish?
I generally prefer classical methods while drawing. Especially I like doodle kind drawings with high black-white contrast. So I mostly prefer graphic drawing pens with different tip thicknesses and marker pens. Watercolor and acrylic are also used sometimes. Besides, digital working have a different pleasure because I can be more experimental as there is always a “command-Z” option. For instance, I preferred digital working in the children books. Generally, I drew vector based illustrations and very nice results were achieved. But starting point is always pen and paper.
What do you think about the Little Prince calendar and notebook Project of Box in a Box Idea? Did you enjoy drawing an extraction of Little Prince?
I think Little Prince was a great idea. I like Little Prince from the old times. I had a cassette of it when I was small and I used to sleep whilst listening to it. Even though the book and the characters are perceived as a tale, actually it has the quality of giving important lessons to people. The book has a very nice philosophy and an ironic approach to the people’s world. This is utterly meaningful, to me. This is why I had a great pleasure both from the Project itself and from the extraction I drew. It was very inspiring to design the Land of Tears as in my dreams…
How is your relation with Music and Cinema? Do you have any recommendations for us?
The music I listen to changes according to my mood. Mostly I like listening to classical music and blues. I listen to Leo Delibes, Fazıl Say, Aram Khachaturyan, Bizet, Dimitri Shostakovich, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Annie Lennox, Shirley Bassey and Black Keys so much. While working I like listening to LOTR trilogy and similar instrumental soundtrack albums.
As for cinema, I like movies of periods or movies with many fantastic and mythological elements that contribute to my imagination. Tim Burton is just for me with his a bit gothic a bit dark style. Stopmotion feature-length ones that are made by Aardman studios are also great. I guess only melancholic movies and movies with lots of dram are not for me because I do not really like that depressive mood.
Are there any ballerinas and illustrators that you follow?
There are many illustrators I follow. Some of them are Steve Simpson, Nuno Da Costa, Peter Donelly, Kristina Vardazaryan, Bruno Laurent, Brian Miller, Tom Haugomat and Ariel Bellinco.
As for Ballet and dance, Svetlana Zakharova is my favorite. Apart from her, Keenan Kampa, Kristina Shapran, Anna Nikulina, David Hallberg, Roberto Bolle, İgor Zelensky, Alessandra Ferri, Maria Kochetkova and Vladislav Lantarov come to my mind.