Explore Ceren’s beautiful art!
Art can uplift us, make us feel seen and understood, give us a sense of purpose and help us relax.
This is exactly how you’ll feel when exploring the art of Gazelle Comics, i.e., Ceren Sultan Ekinci.
We *love* Ceren’s work, so we sat down with her to ask her about her creative journey, influences and the ways art impacts her life. She also shares useful advice for all aspiring artists!
1. Ceren, can you tell us about your background and how you got into illustration?
It might be a bit cliché, but I have been very interested in colors, lines, and creating art since my childhood.
As a child, I used to spend a lot of time by myself and I was immersed in nature, so I thought a lot about creativity and the joy it brings.
My journey as an artist started with traditional art and evolved into digital art when I learned to make vector drawings with Adobe in middle school.
At that time, I didn’t even have a touchpad; I drew with a mouse — click, click, click!
Later in high school, I got a tablet and started to discover my own way around lines and colors, which laid the foundations for my current style.
Ever since then, I’ve been enjoying expressing myself with colors and lines…
2. How did you develop your unique style?
What a nice compliment about my style!
Believe me, a few years ago, if you had told Ceren that her style would be perceived as unique, she would have been overjoyed!
I always thought that I must develop a particular style.
But I realized that being fixated on this idea prevented me from seeing a very important truth — as I continued to draw, I would naturally find my own style over time.
It was important that I consumed as much art as I could while my own style was still taking shape.
When I realized this, I started to spend most of my time exploring amazing artists and their works, which not only helped me develop my aesthetic understanding but also inspired me immensely, which is why I’ll continue to do this for life.
I cannot explain how exciting it is to discover yourself by observing the world and art; that’s how your style finds you, even if you’re not looking for it.
3. Are there any particular cultural or life experiences that have shaped your work?
When I first started digital drawing, the only thing I cared about was hyperrealism.
I tried to draw everything as realistically as I possibly could, and I saw realism as the only criterion for success and beauty.
Then I started university, and my major was psychology.
Working in this field taught me a lot about myself; one of those things was that I didn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful or complete. Instead, what’s in my mind and heart is perfect in its own way, and there is more than one way of portraying it.
Realizing this made me a much more relaxed person, like a bohemian.
My current drawings are based on this state of mind, and I bring out the colors and stories inside me as they want to come out.
4. The colors in your illustrations are warm and subdued, with lots of earthy tones. Can you tell us a bit about your palette and what inspires it?
We used to have a lot of grapevines and fruit trees when I was a child, and I still tend to them in the summer.
My morning routine involves watching the wind dance through the tendrils of our grapevine while sipping on a cup of coffee; and when I’m feeling down, I take walks among the tomato plants. 🙂
That’s why it was not possible for me to create drawings without including in them these elements that make me feel good.
I would think that I was depriving people of earthy tones, green, and yellow if I didn’t share them through my illustrations.
Looking at warm-colored visuals and creating calm and accepting illustrations still makes me feel like I’m walking on the soft garden sand, even in this world that is becoming increasingly gray and concrete.
5. What does your illustration process look like?
Inspiration and the desire to create come in various ways.
But I think I mostly start scribbling something down once I feel the urge to tell something.
I have always believed that every problem can be solved by thinking or talking about it, or, sometimes, simply by accepting it; my drawing process is shaped by trying to achieve one of the three.
After finding the feeling or thought I want to pursue, I look at reference photos or previous artworks that convey the same emotion.
Once my visual research is done, I take my pen and tablet and sit down for hours. Even though I have started to describe myself as a more relaxed person and less of a perfectionist, I still don’t feel at ease until I finish what I started.
So, once I’m done, I get up from the table feeling a bit stiff, but I can finally take a deep breath of relief. 🙂
6. What mediums do you prefer to work with and why?
I use digital drawing tools because they are more practical to me and provide a richer inventory of brushes and colors.
Plus, digital drawing is cleaner.
I also love working with traditional art materials like gouache, watercolor, and oil paint, but I do them less often compared to digital; I feel less stressed about making mistakes when drawing digitally and I don’t have to worry about running out of a specific color like green. 🙂
7. How does the ability to express yourself creatively affect other areas in your life?
There is a principle in developmental psychology that says that development is holistic.
This means that any difference in one area of development affects all other areas of development.
I often remember this principle when I want to express myself creatively.
It helps me minimize the feeling of being misunderstood; it also allows me to understand myself better and realize that the people who are interested in my creations speak the same language and share the same feelings as me.
This realization makes me very happy and helps me overcome loneliness.
In addition, it positively affects both my self-confidence and my ability to express myself verbally.
It enables me to meet new people and participate in new environments, allowing me to see and understand people in many different ways.
And of course, since I’m a psychological counselor, it enables me to have a much broader perspective.
8. On your Instagram page, you often remind your followers about the importance of self-love, overcoming hardships and living life in the now. Why are these ideas/topics important to you, and how do they play a role in your art??
Today, I think we are not able to focus on these issues enough due to both the new materials we have and the new goals we pursue.
The world has become such that we need someone to stop us and say — be calm, everything will fall into place, you don’t have to chase after anything since you did not come to the world to pursue ambitions that will torture you.
As a psychological counselor, I would like to wrap most of the people I meet in a warm blanket, give them hot chocolate, and talk to them about the topics I cover on my Instagram account.
I think I am trying to fulfill this desire through my blog, since doing it directly would not be very professional. 🙂
9. What kind of impact would you like to make on your audience with your art?
To be honest, I wish for my audience to see the benefits of art that I see.
I express many things through art because I believe that I also need to hear them somewhere deep inside.
You know how people sometimes ask you to tell them what you would tell your younger self?
Well, I choose to address myself now, in the present moment, rather than my younger self when I say something.
That makes me feel like I’m forming a strong bond with myself.
That’s why I’d like those who follow me to be able to do the same.
I want us to remember together that we only need ourselves to accept and express our feelings and enjoy life.
I want to create a sense of community and see that we support each other.
I guess you could call my art a utopia. 🙂
10. What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
I think the best advice I can give to my fellow artists is to distinguish between using art as a “purpose” and as a “tool”.
Sometimes, we do need to use it as a tool to discover ourselves and find our place in life.
Other times, we need to make it our purpose to calm the storms that arise within us.
When we attach the wrong meaning to art at the wrong time, we may miss out on what it can offer us.
Therefore, I think it can be a good approach to see art as full of diversities, surprises, and puzzles that need to be solved, just like human beings.
Thank you for doing this interview with BIOWARS, Ceren! It was so good to welcome you to the BIOCOSMOS. See you soon!
If you’re interested in getting to know other comic book artists, check out these interviews with Flaviu Pop, Marko Djeska, David Jacob Duke, Sean Damien Hill, Anthony Carranza, Lucius Cross, Joseph Falzon, Gonçalo Lopes and Chrigel Farner. You can also explore artist profiles, including Jack Kirby and Jim Lee.