About the artists
Artist Q&A: Ulas & Merve
Fashion & Fine Art; A love affair
Ulaş Kesebir & Merve Türkan
Ulas: We have been living in London for he last 6 months. Before that, we lived in Istanbul. I can say that we are in a transition period. We go out for a walk most mornings since we moved and during these walks we are working on a photography project that we have started. We spend our days taking photographs, trying to get to know the area we live in, going for a walk, organizing our archive, planning and preparing for our projects.
Merve: I'm kind of an early bird. I wake up at 5:30-6am in the morning. And I start the day off with a coffee. It is my favorite time of day. I can focus on my work more efficiently. I mostly do research and reading until 8am. I organize our work and plan our new projects.
We go for a run between 8-9am. The rest of the day consists of a lot of walking, organizing, planning, and shooting for our projects as Ulas said.
Ulas: I met Merve in 2010. I can say that I was at the end of my long university life. I was studying electrical engineering, but I didn't finish school. When we met, Merve was already into photography. I don't remember exactly how, but photography started to become the main topic of our conversations. We made our own softbox by watching Youtube and taking pictures of each other. We were just having fun, exploring photography by ourselves. We took photos of each other and our friends a lot. As we continued to take pictures, people started to show interest. Then we started working for a few local fashion brands. At the end of 2014, we opened our own studio in Izmir.
Merve: I’ve started taking photographs when I was at university in 2005 while I was studying urban planning.
Taking photographs was not a disciplined and intense process for me until I met Ulas. Somehow photography became the main thing in our lives. If we weren’t taking pictures, then we were talking and thinking about it all day. We were trying a lot of lighting setups and techniques and we loved what we did back then and we still love it. We still believe there is a lot to discover about it.
Describe your work in three words?
Humorous, colourful, surreal.
We use both film and digital photography as a medium. We use Nikon dslr full frame camera for digital and contax 35mm and Mamiya medium format cameras for film photography. We develop our own film, and we love the whole analogue process, but we also enjoy editing our digital files.
We think inspiration is very much related to the mood you are in. Some days you may draw inspiration from everything and other days nothing inspires you. We are living our lives with photography always in our minds (our thoughts and our observations) So everything art history, a movie, a colour, clothes, a gesture, a reflection on a surface may become a source of inspiration. You need to be ready to be inspired.
Lucio Fontana, Wes Anderson, Marcel Duchamp, Juergen Teller
Merve: Being an artist makes life interesting. It forces me to see things differently.
Ulas: It gives you the freedom of being able to create whatever you want. So, it is a playground with endless possibilities.
No, we don’t have a signature colour or palette but most of the time colour is a primary subject of our images. We give great attention to the colour of the things(shoes, clothes, carpets, curtains etc.) in the frame in order to create a very refined colour palette.
Our work is
characterized by a refined color palette and subtle humor and most of them are self-portraits.
A colour, an object or a scene in movie we watched can be the starting point. We visualise an idea in our minds, like a person wearing pink clothes in a pink room. Then we set up the room, find the appropriate items and clothing and make it real. Or, if a place we have just visited has impressed us, we think of something suitable for that place and go back there and create the image we want.
Lostroom series is one of the first series we shot in our first studio in Izmir, Turkey. We thought of a lonely woman, daydreaming and trying to have fun on a summer day during the golden hour on her own, enjoying the sunlight coming in from the window. We love the colours and the warmth that gives hope to the image.
We built a whole room from scratch by ourselves in our studio. We bought mdf panels and even managed to make a moveable wall with a window. We arranged the furniture, did the painting and planned everything carefully. It was a lot of physical work. There were quite a few antique stores around our studio at that time and that helped us a lot when arranging the room. We also had a designer friend who gave us the clothes. If I remember correctly, the set stayed in our studio for a week or maybe more. We were shooting, checking the images and shooting again, doing some editing and shooting again. All week was like that.
Ulas: There is something I feel when I see certain artworks. I feel as if we have both looked at life from the same window at a certain time. I get the feeling that I can truly understand someone and that someone can truly understand me. I like to think that there are people looking at our works who feel this way. I can't say exactly how I want them to feel, but I like the idea of them reacting and of being able to somehow evoke a feeling in them. It's like getting to know someone better without ever meeting them.
Merve: I am always amazed about how art finds very different and surprisingly successful ways to express a thought, feeling or an idea. Talking about photography in particular, I see photographs that I never would have thought could convey that feeling so impressively. This seems like a place with endless options to me. The thought of making discoveries in an area like this is my source of motivation and excitement. I would love our work to evoke a similar reaction.