Building a network of Turkish Creatives
Multiple Owners
— The context
#ForCreativeMinds started with an honest conversation between Muk and Dilek Altan. We wanted to include more of a human element into our notebooks and express the unique minds behind the creative process that we associate notebooks with. Muk was a young brand at the time, already being stocked in key retailers and building a name for itself in the design market. Dilek, on the other hand, being a fashion photographer, wanted to challenge herself by working with a lifestyle product brand. She was (and still is) also a young and talented photographer working with big names in the industry. We were connected through a mutual friend and the rest was history.

— The idea
We decided to ask creatives around us, whom we admired, to take part in the series. We managed to reach more than a dozen people, through many many cold calls. (I go into detail explaining how I reached out to the network, and how you can too, on a blog post.) The goal was to photograph each person in their own work space with a notebook of their choice. Other than being a creative tool, collaborating with Dilek also shed a unique angle to the notebook as a fashion accessory. And honestly, most of the job was building trust and comfort with them so that the unique personality of each person would come across. 

— Finding the right people
Obviously, the most crucial element of this project was picking the right people. We consciously (or unconsciously) went for young Turkish creatives –just like Elif and Dilek– working in various fields of art and design –as various as possible. These were important, because a) we wanted to create an organic lateral network. So reaching out to people in our existing outer circles that we were directly or indirectly connected to allowed a very honest and unpretentious look into each person. And b) this variety created a selection of personalities, creative personas, personal styles and a rich visual diversity. This was a representative of the selection of Muk’s products. We also went on to write a short essay about each person as a thank you to the generosity of each person.

Here are a few examples:
@oeker by @dilekaltan, as part of #ForCreativeMinds.

@oeker was one of the nicest people I’ve met as part of this series, responding so graciously to my cold call and contributing generously to the creative process like a true collaborator. He really treated the project like his own, which only real creatives do. While researching (a.k.a. stalking) him prior, I came across his two passions, both of which he was thriving at. One, he‘s a successful art director for Bebek Istanbul. And two, he’s a craftsman of wood and metal furniture for @flatcraftworks. You have to see the attention to detail in these pieces by the way. They’re so thoughtful to the material and so elegantly simple. By the way, did I tell you that both of these practices are his own making?

Just walking into his space, I could feel the beauty a craftsman is dedicated to create in everything they touch. His aura was everywhere he‘s been, applying the knowledge of making beautiful things in every practice of his life. Such a pleasure to have collaborated with you!

And more importantly, do you guys ship to London?
@cizenbayan shot by @DilekAltan, as part of our #ForCreativeMinds series.

@cizenbayan (or nowadays known as @elifmusique) is a very inspiring woman that you should know about. She's a visionary, who's one of the first people to have taken advantage of the potential of social media as it was an emerging platform. This was back, back in the day, over a decade ago. Since then, she's delighted and enlightened her international audience as an influencer as she constantly reinvented herself as a creative and a human being. Nowadays, she's been practising a nomadic lifestyle, where she travels the world without having a home to return to, while kicking ass behind the decks through her new, up and coming music career.

Other than sharing a first name, @cizenbayan and I as teenagers shared school desks of our much beloved Austrian High School. Since then, watching her over the years, I admire her determination, work ethic, commitment to her authenticity and how smart of a businesswoman she is.

So thrilled to have her as part of #ForCreativeMinds.
Another #tbt to #ForCreativeMinds from the spring of 2013.

This one features a unique creative soul from my motherland, with whom I also share a first name. @ElifDomanic is a costume designer, an art director, a new mom and an all-time it girl, as I would describe her. Under a dead cool disguise, I remember being surprised by her ease and hospitality, as she not only accepted my cold call for collaboration, but also she so warmly hosted us in her home that she shared with then-boyfriend Can for our photoshoot. The series, photographed by @DilekAltan, features in the background Elif's tastefully kinky leather harnesses and accessories, by @ElifDomanicBoudoir. I love the bold expression and dark sense of beauty that reflects through her personal style, her designs and everything else she touches.

She recently wrapped up the first-ever Turkish @Netflix original #TheProtector, which she co-created with hubby @CanEvrenol, who is an equally exciting character, but that’s another story. So happy for our collaboration, and Elif’s sense of self and unapologetic expression of it will keep being an inspiration.
In a newly gentrified neighborhood in Istanbul, 6 years ago (can you believe it?), in a warehouse conversion studio/loft of fashion photographer @emreguven, a super ad hoc photoshoot took place one rainy spring day. @kasanharaarslan, the anagram alias of the talented Hasan Karaarslan, who cruises in the realms of editorial, advertising and fine art photography, with a firm grip snatched this notebook from me – and later fell asleep while reading into my diary.

The scrapyard series from one of @muk.design's earlier collections ironically captured the soul of the setting; high ceilings, bare concrete walls, exposed pipes and cables, steel staircases. Hello hello to huge empty spaces, industrial architectures and strong hands of the crafts(wo)men.
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Photo by @dilekaltan, always and 4ever.
Celebrity alert!

Here comes a cool bunch running a cool studio, that goes by the name @ouchhh. They're popping from every corner of the creative realms lately, and I feel a little bit like a proud mum, to be honest. In any case, you might have heard of @ouchhh. I personally bumped into an installation of theirs in the middle of deep playa last summer. I'm looking forward to seeing their talk in @OFFFest this year, and I think you should too. An up-and-coming, award-winning, data-crushing, cross-disciplining new media agency working with new, baby, embryo platforms that most of us haven't even known existed. They cruise in experimental territories, and the insanely tedious craftsmanship and very ambitious, hard work comes across in their super polished work. And I’m guessing that’s how they manage to attract such big brands. Cause their client list is a long name dropping fest.

Back in the day, these guys didn’t have quite as much going on, apparently, and could make room for an impromptu shot while getting intimate with our #ArchitectureSeries. @ferdialici, on the left hand, and @harunkeremkose, on the right, with their raw, inborn sex appeal as seen here were generous enough to be part of the series. I sadly wasn't there on the day but @dilekaltan did an amazing job as always with her camera, and with all the spanking. Jokes aside, its simplicity and wit made this one of my favourite in the #ForCreativeMinds series. And how cool it is to have witnesses where these guys were 6 years ago and how far they've come. "We overestimate how much we can achieve in a year and underestimate what we can in a decade."
@gozde_mimiko_turkkan and I met for the first time, when Gozde was in the midst of preparation for her up coming @IstanbulModern exhibition. We sat down on a calm, sunny balcony for some Turkish coffee and art chat. She had huge sample prints on her for the exhibition. We started talking about her process, and explained how she was feeling under time pressure added to her natural perfectionism. With me and @DilekAltan, she was very graceful and open, even when responding to my out of the blue request to collaborate. ⁣⁣⁣

⁣⁣Interestingly, we could’ve crossed paths so many other times if it wasn’t for the right timing. We both went to Central Saint Martins at some point, for instance. Then, my first job after architecture school was working for @VasifKortun at @salt_online. Shortly after I left, Gozde had joined the family to do a couple of talks, even being interviewed by Mr Kortun himself. Our shared love to Muay Thai Kickboxing is another nice synchronicity (hers arguably much greater than mine, but that’s a whole other story.)⁣⁣⁣

⁣⁣After the shoot that day, I went to see Gozde's exhibition at #IstanbulModern. I remember seeing her work in the middle of many other artists’. The work that put much pressure on her turned out to be lots of very sentimental family photos stacked in a “treasure” box. How ballsy to be so nude, so vulnerable, I thought to myself. Her art portrays a persona, I think, that is soft on the outside, hard on the inside. She often turns her camera onto herself, sharing the fragility of her body. And desire. She’s passionate about feminine image, it's strength, and an honest gaze upon it. But on the other side, she’s also interested in the limits of that same fragile body, which I share the interest for very much so.⁣⁣⁣

⁣⁣For the series, Gozde picked this particular floral fennel notebook because, she said that all of her tattoos were red, and that this was the colour she could relate to the most. I’m very happy that she did. Because this piece belongs to her.
— Global locals
Inspired by Muk’s strapline “Notebooks for creative minds, toys for big boys (and girls)”, the series were shared on social media with #forcreativeminds. Of course, Muk had the clear business objective to grow their network, and position itself as a brand creatives went to. However, we also wanted this to be a living, breathing project. The photography series were developed as part of Muk Design’s social media campaign that took place in 2013, meeting our objectives successfully. However, in retrospect, limiting this to a local network also has a sentimental meaning to our expat business. Being connected to our artistic roots, building a network of Turkish creatives has much higher potential than we anticipated at the time.
Now, as the final Turkish creative in the #ForCreativeMinds series is the one and only @BegumYetis. She’s an edgy girl, a brave, risk-taking photographer, and a very easy model to work with. Begum wasn’t shy to play along with @dilekaltan and myself in a mall car park for this casual shoot for Muk. She’s also the kind of photographer who knows very well herself how to pose. And I love that she does. Her cool, effortless on camera persona came across just phenomenally, bringing much appreciated darkness to the #ForCreativeMinds series.

Ok, let me be honest. I don’t know Begum very well personally, but I definitely notice and appreciate her professionally. And what I can say about Begum genuinely is that I admire her thirsty ambition. She’s a fellow survivor and thriver in London. And she’s kicking ass artistically, which makes me proud and excited for all of us survivors and thrivers in cool cities around the world. For instance, I’ve been watching her latest creative partnership with @iammattking. I wanna give Matt the highest of compliments, so I’ll just say that I’m jealous of his work. He made me fall back in love with fashion, but I digress.

I’ve been keeping an eye on Begum and Matt’s work, and first of all, I can see their chemistry. So congratulations for finding each other, guys. Most of us crave for it, and it’s really hard to find it. One of their exhibitions BARE WITH ME in @doomedgallerydalston was selected by @another_man as 10 most visually arresting photo stories of 2018. Now, I haven’t seen every single visually arresting photo series of 2018, but I can confirm that this one does deliver. So long story short, I wanna take this opportunity to declare my crush for the Begum&Matt duo, and offer being their third wheel.

As for Begum, I wanna also emphasise how much I adore the darkness of her work, and how fearless she’s becoming. And I’m very happy to see her giving an artistic steer to her career. Thank you Begum, for being edgy then, and edgier now. Love that we both found in London what we were looking for. But let’s not stop and keep searching around the globe.
Meet Tuse Tamer a.k.a. @yerlerkaymiyor, hiding behind one of our earlier notebooks.

Tuse is an artist, and the wise woman at the party with big cat eyes, raki on one hand, ciggy on the other, telling you how it is. Her photography is ephemeral and full of emotions. But what I like about her the most, the way I want her to be as I see her through brief moments curated exposure is her boldness, her unapologetic-ness, or better, her untranslatable "eyvallahsız"ness. She's vulnerable, but also doesn't reveal too much, which comes across in her art, and her relationship with language. I quite enjoy just reading through her social updates, to be frank.

When we met for this shoot during her lunch break, it had to be a boozy one, as talked business. Tuse protested the behind the scenes drama in the advertising world. @dilekaltan asked her "Do you really like shooting boobs?" to which Tuse answered, "Of course I do." She was such an easy model herself, happy to pose on the street. How talented, yet how humble. Much appreciated, Tuse!
And finally, here’s a photo of Dilek Altan, exhausted and floating in the dream world after running around shooting all of these amazing people for #ForCreativeMinds.
Building a network of Turkish Creatives
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Building a network of Turkish Creatives

Art Direction and concept design for Muk Design's social media campaign, in collaboration with Dilek Altan
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