WORLDVIEWS/Illustrated map of the Mediterranean #4

CULTUREkill_billIl viaggio di FocusMéditerranée prosegue e la mappa illustrata del Mediterraneo, dopo Libano, Iran, Israele, si arricchisce di un nuovo immaginario visivo di cui si fa interprete e portavoce Murat Palta, giovane illustratore, grafico e animatore turco.

Nato il primo giorno del 1990 ad Hatay (Antiochia), la città al confine con la Siria che oggi accoglie molti rifugiati siriani (a 90 chilometri circa da Aleppo in linea d’aria, il percorso stradale invece indica 384 chilometri), laureato in graphic design alla Dumlupinar University Kütanya, Murat Palta ha voluto fare un esperimento due anni fa: fondere i motivi grafici orientali (ottomani) tradizionali con il cinema occidentale contemporaneo. Il risultato è stata una re-interpretazione dei classici del cinema hollywodiano, ma in chiave antica e non moderna, come ci si poteva aspettare: una “riscrittura al contrario”. Dopo un primo tentativo con l’inossidabile saga di George Lucas, diventata per l’occasione Ottoman Star Wars, ha deciso di portare avanti la sua “ricerca” misurandosi con pellicole che sono pietre miliari nella storia del cinema e farne argomento della tesi di laurea. Da Scarface ad Arancia Meccanica, da Alien a Il Padrino, da Terminator II a Pulp Fiction e Kill Bill di Quentin Tarantino: interessante scoprire come il semplice trasferimento di immagini, di rappresentazioni, in un’epoca “altra” e lontana nel tempo e nello spazio, possa produrre un effetto che talvolta è davvero spiazzante.

What illustration means to you?
It is a way to reflect what inspires me. I really enjoy watching movies, reading books, listening to music and play games. To me they have always been a source, a way to move on: an “arrival point”. For instance, I am in the habit of reading books on the way back home, after my work. While I’m reading, I create in my mind every single chapter of the book. Characters, places and ambience become mine. To reflect on these feelings, I use illustration as a material, just like a rock band that makes a cover version out of a pop song.

Which was your first illustration?
It is really hard to say, since I’ve been always drawing. And I don’t know which are the limits of considering something as an illustration. I remember that I used to draw Lucky Luke when I was around 5 years old. But for those with more technical skills, I guess I was 16.

What kind of technique do you prefer and what colors you use the most?
I like watercolor painting with marker strokes, while I make illustrations in the traditional way. When I work on something digitally generated, I prefer Adobe Illustrator. I’m very selective in picking colors. I like little darker tones. For instance, I can’t pick red directly. Instead, I use maroon or similar tones. The other way seems too ordinary or banal to me.

Which colors do you associate to your Country?
One word: turquoise. Even the origin of the name comes from Turkey.

A clock work orange by Murat Palta
Godfather by Murat Palta
Scarface by Murat Palta
Kill Bill by Murat Palta
A clock work orange by Murat Palta

Where do you get your inspiration?
As I told you before, it comes mostly from movies or books. Sometimes music and video games as well. Also mythology is what I keen on. But I don’t mean the popular characters such as Hercules, Zeus or something like this. I mean religious or folkloric ones, such as Leviathan, Sandman or Al Basti (a Turkish mythological character).

What are the most common topics in the illustrated books of your Country?
I think it’s Istanbul. There are a lots of illustrations about Istanbul. I’m not sure if it is the most common one, but I believe that it’s really affecting inspiration.

How did the recent years’ mutations change the way of illustrating stories in your Country?
The change always depends on trends in graphic arts, but the inspirations have always been the same: Istanbul. For instance, last year minimal posters were very popular. Naturally this wave hits Turkey as well. Suddenly, lots of minimalistic Istanbul illustrations popped out.

What kind of job opportunities Turkey offers to young people, in particular to artists like you?
As most people may know, in the last years Turkey is showing one of the biggest growth rate in the world. For young people this is an occasion to step forward and make a quality leap. This situation is producing not only local ferment, but also a rush towards international markets. Young people are supported by new skills, new ambitions in job areas such as genetics, astronomy, engineering and so on. Because of the lacks or inabilities in Turkey to offer these jobs, some of  graduated talented students are going abroad. And also graphic artists are part of this “brain drain”.
Until early 2000, graphic arts were not so widespread. With the expansion of computer and internet, they gained another level of importance. Unfortunately, the art education lack in the Country has negatively affected the products quality. We need to look at the past, particularly at the moment of the Industrial Revolution, in order to understand why Turkey couldn’t keep up with the time. Back to this period, Ottomans were dealing with wars, while Europe was having movements like the Art Nouveau, which came from synthesis of art and industrial projects. Now, our market is full of young creative artists  without a proper background. The talented ones are having problems getting the jobs they are looking for. On the other hand, there is a change which is going on in the Country. Within more or less six years, I believe that graphic arts in Turkey are going to develop and increase.

How much the current events have affected in Turkey the way of representing reality and fiction in the stories in your Country?
It’s surprising, but not so much. Despite the fact that there have been lots of events going on in Turkey, they didn’t affected illustrations at all.

If I ask you to represent the Mediterranean today, what image would you choose in order to make young people understand how this area is now changing and evolving?
It’s easy and hard at the same time, I guess. If we take a look to northern Countries such as Spain, Greece and Italy, we see Countries trying to deal with economic crisis. I spent last summer in Spain and what I saw was lots of successful illustrations, but no money. This means no chance for artists to move to other Countries. Graphic studios are closing day by day. The ones which still work are planning to move to bigger cities or even to other Countries, like Argentina for example.  On the other hand, in southern Countries the “Arab Spring” is going on at the moment. This is another matter of debate. And Turkey is right in the middle. According to that picture, I can tell that the Mediterranean can sometimes have bad times or good times, but always cheerful and genial. It’s something I deeply believe.

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