It is difficult to mistake the collages of Meric Canatan with something else as they look both intimidating and attractive. Photographs of young ladies offer a glaring contrast to the gloomy background and geometric elements decorating the modelsface and apparel. Originally from Turkey and currently based in London, her work has appeared in Vogue Turkey, L'Officiel Hommes, Fucking Young and Dash Magazine – just to name a few. She is only 25 but she has already launched her Cosmos Clothing Line that symbolises the Solar System, founded her own Birdy Accessories Design and is not going to rest on her laurels.
You are a native from Turkey, did your ethnic culture affect your works somehow?
Yes, it definitely has an effect in my works in many ways. Basically, the aspects of creative thinking consist of cultural background plus self-development. In Turkey, as a Mediterranean country, every city or village has a different characteristic and ethnic culture itself. My father and mother, they each have different backgrounds, one is from north-east, the other from south-west and they met in the centre, in my home city Ankara. I grew up in a big family. I was surrounded by loving people. this is probably the reason why I知 using a lot of portraits or black and white moments from the past and linking them with the recent future.
What made you want to become an illustrator?
To be honest, I never decided to become an illustrator. It just happened because I’m interested in art, portraiture and figures since I was little. I then started going to art school when I was 13. I had a chance to develop my style in illustration and just concentrated on art practices instead of taking chemistry class. However, I was lucky to find my way and the circumstances were quite convenient.
Did your family support your choice of profession?
I’m one of those fortunate ones whose family always stands behind. They supported me on everything I’ve done. My parents are both very open-minded and determined people which has also been an inspiration while developing my personality.
How did you get to the unique style you have today?Has it changed since you started?
My first collage project was Cut-Outin 2011 which I did during he period my father passed away. At that time, mixing the technique with fashion editorials was a new beginning for me. I kept working on black and white pictures to use light and shadows on portraits. After my dark period, illumination came with the collaboration projects that gave me the chance of working with some very talented people. As far as I’m concerned, it's a kind of process you never create intentionally or decide to build up properly. But I always find the human portraiture very captivating and provocative. It could be a kind of human-related obsession which has become the main exploration of my practice. I believe that this fascination shapes my style. In every portrait I collaged or every project I've been involved, I face the new sights of human nature.
You are young but you have already achieved a lot in your career. What is the secret of your success?
I’m 25 now. I have some bad and good habits such as curiosity, instability, moodiness and insistency which can be advantageous or mischievous depending on the situation. Besides, I always find myself involved in demanding tasks which are pushing me to go further. Above all, I feel very grateful for having supportive people around me, it makes me feel proud of everything Ive achieved.
What is art for you?
Art is an incalculable tool which visualizes from the inner thoughts to outer limits of everything about us. In the same way that science enlightens us, art makes people more mindful, observer and deep-seated.
What inspires you the most?
One can never tell from which direction a good idea will come from but I get most of my inspiration from places, stories, the melancholia and complexity of human nature, objects or pictures. During the design process, new and relevant ideas inspire me the most when communicated via fabric or craft.
When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer? What's it like being in the industry?
The moment I started to realize how exciting fashion design could be was when I was in my last year of high school. In the first year of fashion and textile design course in Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, I was not sure whether I should continue or not because compared to other art practices, fashion was not that significant/appreciated. Whilst at university, I created an accessory brand with my friend Fatos Erhuy which helped me combine fashion and art, making it a more exciting prospect. I gained experience in the fashion design industry in Istanbul where it's developing and growing rapidly. It's a lot tougher and more competitive in London compared to Istanbul, but in terms of having experience in fashion or art London is particularly worthwhile.
How would you describe your brand?
It's similar to my artistic approach, only that instead of using paper I use fabric instead. My idea of branding is more influenced by conceptual fashion which encapsulates the richness and essence of my ethnic background. Right now, I’m deliberating if I should develop my collages and illustration projects into a collection, just like I did with my graduation project Iosmos
What would your typical workday be like?
I do so many things at the same time, I can't just focus on one single thing, so everyday is different from the next. I usually wake up early. I do some research, I sometimes get lost, do some collage then some illustration maybe. I have a busy connection on Skype between Istanbul and London. I do chat a lot with my family and friends. I generally try and take new tasks that make me feel refreshed.
What are your plans for the future?
I moved from Istanbul to London 6 months ago. I didn’t have any time to adapt really; I arrived I started working on different projects, such as the inflorescence editorial. I'm now working on a new project, it's still in progress but hopefully I’ll be displaying it at Istanbul's Design Biennial. Apart from working on my personal projects I collaborate with various London based talented creatives and magazines. This way I can continue being involved with people in the industry which can impress me.
And last, but not least if you could talk to your ten year-old self, what would you like her to know?
I wouldn’t say anything about changing my path. I would probably advise her not to take to seriously what people say or what people do.