Can Çetinkaya is a man of very few words, but we’ll live with that as his portraits create a glorious whirlpool of stories that we find ourselves completely lost in. Can is an illustrator and artist from Ankara, Turkey.
Can studied graphic design from Dokuz Eylul University in Izmir, Turkey. Though he admits that his interest was heavily tilted towards illustration, and he tried avoiding the “design” part as much as he could. For his commercial works, he has created portraits of many popular culture figures like fictional characters, actors, authors, etc. Most of his personal work also consists of portraits, but of women – textured, packed with deep emotions, and often popping out of the screen like three-dimensional characters.
Tell us something about your childhood.
I grew up in Ankara, Turkey. My parents moved to a village when I was about nine years old. However, I continued my schooling in Ankara and stayed with my grandmother. During every short or long holiday, I went to the village where my parents stayed, because it took only about one and a half hours to get there. And then at the age of 20, I went to Izmir for my college.
What influenced you creatively when you were growing up?
When I was a child, I really liked playing with Legos. I would end up playing with them during almost all my free time. I’d also draw things but not so often. One day my grandmother came up to me and said, ‘Look at yourself! How many years it has been and you’re still playing with Legos’, I was 10 years old at that time, if I’m not wrong. That was somehow a pretty embarrassing moment for me. From that day onwards, I just couldn’t play with Legos anymore and therefore, I needed something to fill the void that it created.
So when did you actually realize that you wanted to be an artist?
I never wanted to be an artist. I mean I never really consciously thought about art while growing up. However, I just couldn’t stop drawing things or making comics, but not in the name of art. On the other hand, I always knew that I eventually wanted to go to a fine arts school because somewhere I knew that my drawings were pretty cool.
What did you end up studying then?
My department in college was actually graphic design. But I always focused on the illustration part in the course, and tried to avoid the design part as much as I could.
I never really consciously thought about art while growing up. However, I just couldn’t stop drawing things or making comics, but not in the name of art.
You often draw from figures popular culture but give them a completely new depth and meaning.
Not really. I have made various works on pop culture but they were all commissions for magazines, websites, etc. I simply made them for money. My personal works are very different from the pop culture commissioned works.
Tell us a little about the specific colors and techniques you use in your portraits?
I have trained myself mostly on multimedia. Colors and peinture are my main focus, so I use different techniques in the same work to bring them together.
How do you balance between personal and commissioned work?
I basically split the day into two halves. One half for my commissioned work and the other for personal. If I ever find myself in a phase where I am constantly working on my commissioned works without proper breaks to do other things, I get quite angry!
What are some of things/observations that have deeply inspired you and your work over the years?
Clouds, moon and stars.
Who are the artists around the world that you really admire?
What are you currently working on?
I’m making a picture book.
I have made various works on pop culture but they were all commissions for magazines, websites, etc. I simply made them for money. My personal works are very different from the pop culture commissioned works.
FEATURED IMAGE CAPTION:
All the images are artworks by Can Çetinkaya.©
Can’s photograph is provided by him.©