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Interview With Ahmet Atil Akar

The idea of futuristic dystopia is fascinating and mysterious to contemplate in our current state of affairs in the world. For you, can you tell us about how your artwork discloses your own ideology surrounding the concept of dystopia? Do you feel that as a society, we are approaching closer to a dystopian universe?

In general, looking at life from a societal perspective and studying it with the concept of class struggle in mind makes sense to me. A world where capital and labor still clash against each other with persisting social inequalities provides more than enough material to imagine a dystopian future. For me, the only difference between great dystopias like “A Brave New World”, “Dispossessed” or “We” and our world is just a bit more technology (but, not equally accessible to all). You don’t even need some catastrophic or disastrous event as in “Mad Max”, “Soylent Green” or “The Handmaid’s Tale”. I find it very engaging to depict characters symbolizing different classes in a future where similar struggles keep on, although I don’t have to do this in each one of my works. 

Viewing your artwork as a whole, there is the use of choice color, specifically black and gray.  Tell us more about the significance of your use of these particular colors when creating your futuristic imagery.

Unfortunately, most of the time, I have a rather pessimistic outlook on life. And, as a pessimist, I naturally enjoy creating dark and mysterious things. Although I sometimes use bright colors as well, somehow, maybe a bit subconsciously, I almost always end up using dark colors, especially black, much more. Beksinski always had a big influence on me. The fact that I am a night owl and love working at night might have something to do with as well. Or perhaps I am just reflecting on what’s happening in my country and our world in colors.

How has your engineering background influenced your art design and to what extent?

I worked as an equipment and machinery appraisal expert for about 5 years. During this time, I saw almost every type of technical equipment and machinery, visited countless factories and plants, and wrote comprehensive reports on all these. Always being around different types of machines, hearing them, seeing them, smelling them, trying to understand how they work definitely left its mark on me. I guess I started to look for similarities between machines and men after a certain point, and the line started to disappear. For me, a piece of equipment left uncared and unused for years is sometimes like a grumpy old man, and sometimes like a horrifying serial killer.  Machines in a working factory can be like mischievous school children or like a glorious and proud lieutenant… I don’t know, I might have to go back to that job one day. But still, I cannot even imagine that I would stop creating. 


Imagine that in 100 years, your art has been immortalized and is on view for the beings that will inhabit this planet. What do you think they will say about your art?

Of course, I would like to say: “They would be impressed, and consider me a visionary!”   However, in reality, I believe my work would be probably outdated as time passes. Maybe this is the romantic in me talking, but I would much rather have my art appreciated by an alternative minority than masses. And, it would definitely make me more happy to see my work an a t-shirt was worn by a beautiful outsider alien girl (with nice boobs) than have it displayed in some expensive art gallery. 

Please tell us about how you go about dreaming up your concepts, from idea to fruition?

Although it varies from project to project, I usually have a rather chaotic workflow because I use different techniques depending on the image I have in mind. If I am working an album cover or a game character, I need to conjure something and move forward according to the brief I receive, and I also need to stick to a pre-agreed timeline. So, this forces me to act more disciplined. I exercise more freedom when I work on a personal project. In times like this, I usually just focus on a photograph or a work that left an impression on me, and progress however I feel like at the moment. In both cases, I combine 3D modeling and photo-bashing techniques most of the time. Music always triggered my imagination, so listening to music while drawing has become a habit. Electronic music is an especially important source of inspiration because it feels like the songs and sounds of computers and machines for me. 


What things from your personal past or history influenced your art style?

 In general, all sorts of social uprisings, rebellions, revolutions, art movements, fashion, music, street culture, in addition to scientific and technological developments, almost always have an effect on my work. Although I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I don’t think it would be surprised when I say I didn’t really enjoy the subject and took elective courses that actually sparked my interest whenever I could. So, one of the first people who touched me in this regard was my Fashion Design Professor, Birol Ruhi, who taught me a lot in terms of drawing.  German DJ and producer Boris Brejcha was the first person ever to commission me a work to imagine a different future as a freelance artist. Nate Khouli from Damascus Apparel and Neo4ic, whose work as a graphic designer and photographer I deeply admire, helped me move in the right direction and build the vision I have today. Daniel Hahn “Daytoner” and Alex Figini are the contemporary names that really fascinate me, so I need to mention them, too. It is impossible to list everyone, but in short, I can say that all sorts of artists who touched the people around them by creating have an influence on me.



All images with courtesy of Ahmet Atil Akar


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