People: Selman Hoşgör

By Payal Khandelwal

If I have to give a simplistic view of Selman Hoşgör’s work, I would say that he makes serious fun. His work often places powerful and serious protagonists in unbelievably delightful settings.  Selman is a graphic designer, illustrator and collage artist based in Istanbul, Turkey. He works independently, and does a variety of client and personal projects. His educational credentials include Kadir Has University in Istanbul and Central Saint Martins in London.

Like I said earlier, there is a very playful quality in his work even when he picks up extremely strong, and sometimes difficult, subjects. He blends hand drawn, vintage pictures, historical figures and some gorgeous typography to create most of his works. Over a few emails, I speak to Selman about his work, childhood, Istanbul and other things.

TFM: Tell us something about your childhood. Where did you grow up? 

SH: I was born in Sakarya (in 1987) which is a little city in Turkey. Until university, I stayed there with my family. When I was a child, I always intended to be a football player. And because of my interest in football, I wasn’t so good at academics. I continued playing football regularly until the end of high school. Even till that time, I couldn’t really realize my intention and ability to do illustrations. The only thing that happened which was probably an indication of being artistically inclined was that I had won a painting contest when I was seven years old.

In my family, I have one sister and one brother, and they are both working in different areas. For a very long time, my works weren’t that noticed by my family.

What influenced you creatively when you were growing up?

I can’t really mention one thing in specific. There were many things that were influencing me until I reached this level of art and creativity when I was a 19. However, I should add that when I got injured while playing football once, I started trying out new opportunities for myself. Therefore, every signal since then started to be more meaningful. In addition to this, I have always been a good observer I guess, and until this moment, I had collected many inspirations.

Bipolar Clowns

When did you realize you wanted to pursue design/illustration?

One day while in a class at my school (which was not very interesting for me), I happened to draw something. One of my friends saw the sketch and he started opening up my mind with these new ideas. He also advised me to join Fine Arts. Then I started collecting information about how to get into Fine Arts. Eventually, I started a course which opened a completely new page for my life.

While in college, when my instructor saw my drawing, she started steering me towards graphic arts considering my sketching style. After a lot of preparations, I managed to win a scholarship at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. This changed my life completely! When I finally started going to the university, I understood what graphic design really was, and how it was the most appropriate direction for me as compared to the other departments.

How was the experience at Central Saint Martins in London?

If you are a Fine Arts student, you have certainly heard of Central Saint Martins. I had always dreamt of going there to enlighten and develop myself. When I saw Central Saint Martins for first time, I was inspired from the variety, transparency and innovative approach. They make you think and act differently, and canalize you to unexpected methods with simplicity. They encouraged us to use a lot of hand drawn illustrations. And even after I came back from there, I continued using hand-drawn technique and applied it in many of my artworks.

Your work is so contemporary and yet has a very vintage/old world feel to it. Is that a conscious effort?

I believe that Fine Arts must be grown in different ways and through variable sources. In my opinion, variety creates productiveness. Therefore, I often try to combine relative things like modern and vintage. Also, some series can be more appropriate for this. Actually, it can be completely changed from one series to another.

Bloody Revolution – Can not speak

What has been your most challenging/difficult assignment so far?

I can’t give a specific example for this. If the brief is not clear, then I have to slog a lot to create a structure and transformation to apply my style. If somebody doesn’t know what they want, even the the most beautiful job will not be good enough.

Could you pick up one project and tell us a little about its making? How did it start and how did you execute it? 

For any creation process, information is the first thing that I need. For example, when I was working on the Movie Directors series, I first read about their lives, their various masterpieces, their other movies, and their styles. After gathering all this data, I started filtering relative visuals from different styles. Especially for collages, the visualization part is indispensable as I build scene for figures, object or whatever is ready for collage’s superstar.

How do you manage both client work and personal projects?

There are many times when my personal style and the style that the client wants is different, and I certainly prefer to be free in doing my designs my own way. However, fortunately for the last two yeas, I’ve been receiving client works that are quite similar to my style.


Selman Hoşgör

When I saw Central Saint Martins for first time , I was inspired from the variety, transparency and innovative approach. They make you think and act differently, and canalize you to unexpected methods with simplicity.

How does Istanbul as a city inspire you?

Istanbul is the bridge between Middle East based on the Oriental culture and the West. Here you find completely multi-cultural people. When you turn your head, you can catch Sultanahmet’s eye or Galata and Maiden tower. You can taste ottoman kitchen in Eminonü and then you go across to Ortaköy for world cuisine. Because of all these reasons, inspiration is waiting for you at every corner.

Tell us a little bit about your usual day at work. 

Firstly, I’m a freelancer so I have no constrictions about time. My usual day starts off by updating my to-do list. And after that, I first complete works which are closer to the deadline. I generally prefer working early nights. And during the day, I browse through some design blogs, magazines, etc.

Who are the visual artists/graphic designers around the world that you really admire?

I will be very upset if I forget to name some people for this one. But the first name that comes to my mind is Stefan Sagmeister. His works are simply gorgeous. They are extraordinary, out-of-the-box and therefore, enviable. Otherwise for typography, David Carson is the master degree. His style has been a huge inspiration for my works, especially when it comes to combining typography and collage.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working with people from different nationalities via Behance.  About a couple of weeks back, one client from New York connected with me and expressed his interest towards having an Istanbul edition in their product portfolio. In addition to this, my personal works continues as is.

Black & White

For typography, David Carson is the master degree. His style has been a huge inspiration for my works, especially when it comes to combining typography and collage.

Posture and Gesture

Hair Station – Vintage Barber



Famous Directors


Selman Hoşgör’s picture is provided by him. © 

All the other images are artworks created by Selman Hoşgör. © 


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