Seda Dokumaci is a multidisciplinary artist focusing on portraits. She lives and works in Istanbul and is interested in the human state of mind and emotions. Black and white tones are dominant in her portrait works. Dokumaci generally prefers working on large canvas. Passionate with eyes, Dokumaci always draws the eyes first. Her aim in doing so is to trigger the feeling of empathy in the audience viewing her paintings.
What’s your artistic background?
I’ve met with art via photography; I’ve had always an interest in portrait drawing. After I studied photography and video in the university I mostly worked in video in the advertising business. When I started drawing I left everything aside and since then I’ve been drawing mostly portraits for years.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
For me, reflecting emotions is an integral part of the art. Everything achieving this reflection of feelings is art. If my art can convey a feeling to it’s audience this is the most important thing for me.
What role does the artist have in society?
Whenever I ask this question to myself, I first think of why do I perform art as an artist. Creating is a need for me, just like eating or sleeping. I try to surprise myself every time I start creating an art. And I want to convey to people the excitement and feelings that they don’t experience in their daily lives.
What art do you most identify with?
Definitely drawing, imagine an empty canvas, how exciting it is as a tool. I want to face an empty canvas whole my life and want to paint it as I wish.
What themes do you pursue?
I mainly focus on portraits. The emotions I convey in the portraits always change, gets shape depending on my daily mood. I don’t use many colors, my art is generally monochrome. After finishing the portrait I make some notes on it.
What’s your favourite art work?
My recent drawing is always my favorite one. Then I draw another one and it becomes my favorite. Then another and so on. By this way my inner excitement and curiosity never ceases.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
For me art is a way of expressing myself. I was not a talkative child and had never expressed anything directly to others but I expected them to understand. Then I had created an alphabet and I was writing pieces with it. I do still write on my drawings with that alphabet. I remember very well that I had drawn an apple picture when I was 7 years old and everyone thought it was a strawberry and I was so annoyed that I wrote apple on it. I still recall my feeling then and I still create art with the same feeling.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
First assistant director and then director of advertisement.
Art makes me feel that I am where I need to be. It is the best thing that I can tune into. With art, you can be both disconnected and interconnected at the same time. This is good enough for me.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
To me there is this thing called living the life as an artist. Taking your own decisions in your life, acting alone, able to see different things wherever you look at. The most important one is to be able to glance at the universe with curiosity and admiration.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Constant critics are essential for me. I have received negative reactions related with my works. Viewers find my drawings either utterly depressive or deeply influenced by them. As I mentioned both kind of opinions whether negative or positive of critics are important for me and I enjoy them. But the one that is most previous to me is my relation with the collectors. One of the fondest memories I have is that a collector, who is a friend of mine now, took a chair and sat against one of my drawings for hours. It was an incredible reaction for me.
What food, drink, song inspires you?
Fine dining is essential in my life, I like the dining culture, I like to dine with my friends. I love Rakı. But while drawing art I don’t eat or drink but only listen to instrumental music and avoid having anything distracting in my workshop.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
For me yes, I want to be totally by myself while drawing in my workshop, however there is nothing wrong with that, I like it because this is a task to be performed personally and alone.
What do you dislike about the art world?
Creating artworks is excellent however there is a fiscal side to that and you need to collaborate with galleries or representatives at some point and the thing that irritates me the most is that the galleries want to change and transform the artist. This is very annoying but of course if you insist going on your path after a few years everybody accepts that. However until then it is a tough road.
What do you dislike about your work?
Even though I want to avoid this fact but I still draw my portraits with aesthetic concerns. I wish I would be drawing more free and instinct portraits without proportions and without restricting myself. I’m working on it.
What do you like about your work?
I consider myself to have a unique style. Whenever people see my art in some place they recognize that it’s mine. I like that.
Should art be funded?
Definitely, the artists should focus only on their art. They should be concerned with nothing else.
What role does arts funding have?
Ego satisfaction if we think evil and contributing into art if we think good.
What is your dream project?
I want my arts to be burnt in flames in an empty space and the spectators to buy this experience.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
I don’t want to be compared with anyone as everyone is chasing their own story and trying to express themselves. Of course there are some artists who have inspired me but I like to think that all the artists are the best in their own worlds.
Favourite or most inspirational place?
It is definitely my workshop. My workshop is a room in a 300 years old inn, and when I am there I feel frozen in time. I really enjoy this mood.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Believe in your art, do not doubt it.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
To have the material and spiritual power to create all throughout all my life. Then there is nothing I can’t do.
When I think about the future I always dream of myself as creating. I hope it will never be challenging for me and nothing stands in my way. I’m very happy with my life and I hope I wake up everyday with this feeling in the future as well.