Mert Hürtürk

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Mind the Gap

Create and Be Seen Session #1


I was having a difficult time to come up with ideas about what to create but then remembered something from the book Keep Going (written by Austin Kleon,, where the author suggests making gifts to keep creating things, and actually, it's a good idea in several ways. First, it just feels good to give something to someone without expecting anything in return, and second, since the person you're going to give the gift doesn't expect anything from you and don't know anything about it, you're the one in charge with the creative work, total freedom!

The friend I chose for the gift, along with his family, loves dogs, and really cares about them. So, that was it, I decided to draw an illustration for them that reflects their love and care for the dogs as a family. I wanted to have a happy dog and something to represent the family in the illustration. The first (and last) idea that came to my mind was a happy dog with three hands petting him, three hands representing the family (father, mother, and daughter).

The next step was to decide what kind of an illustration I was going to draw, in what style. I can't say that I have a unique style or a style at all, but I tend to draw things in a specific way. Also, I know that I'm better with abstract drawings, maybe because I'm not good at drawing at all, I'm not sure. For the inspiration, I love the works of Jesse Narens.

Falling, Growing; Crawling, Knowing - Jesse Narens
Falling, Growing; Crawling, Knowing. Painting by Jesse Narens

Inspired by some of his paintings, I've come up with the following sketch for starters. It's focused more on the composition and layout.

Family and dog - Mert Hurturk
Composition and layout sketch, by Mert Hurturk

But then I got impatient and started drawing the final piece immediately, and that was my first mistake: Beginning the final piece with lots of unanswered questions. I'm not saying that it can't be done, but it requires many years of experience to improvise in any creative medium and have decent results. It's not easy for me to share, but here is what I had at first try.

Family and dog, first try - Mert Hurturk
An unfinished illustration, by Mert Hurturk, shamefuly...

I just stopped, it was painful. With this going to trash (actually later I've decided to keep it), my brain started to produce some of the best negative thoughts ever about myself (just enough to wipe out me from existence) and brought impatience with it.

I've started again, and since I was so determined to finish it (which was a good thing), just went on, regardless of any expectations, so I can free myself from the torture. I've lost control of the process and turned myself into a client that nobody wants to work with. With each passing second, I was more and more cruel with myself. I don't know if this is the same with every person trying to create something, but that's what happens to me most of the time. Instead of being a peaceful and meditative process, it's just torture. It felt like years, but actually, it was only thirty minutes at most.

my mood, from start to finish...
my mood, from start to finish...

I finally finished the illustration between thirty to forty-five minutes after starting it, and I can't say that it is ugly, and actually, it's not bad at all, but it wasn't even close to the piece I've imagined at the beginning, neither the composition nor the style. I'm not even mentioning the inspiration source I had at the beginning. But then, I remembered an interview I listened a while ago. It was with Ira Glass about storytelling, and in some part of the conversation, he says, "Nobody tells people who are beginners..." and explains the situation perfectly, the gap between what we are capable of and our taste as beginners. Here is a filmed version of the interview, made by Daniel Sax. It doesn't have any captions at all, so there's also kinetic typo version, which was actually the version I saw first a few months back (years maybe, I'm not sure).

THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo

There's still a big gap between my capabilities and my taste but also I know that it's totally possible to close the gap with more practice. Here's the final illustration, and some of the things I thought/learned with the process.

Family and dog - Mert Hurturk
Family and The Dog. Illustration by Mert Hurturk

This post is a part of Create and Be Seen Sessions. To read others, check out Create and Be Seen page.

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