We're constantly inspired by women who forge their own paths and pursue their dreams. Artist Dilan Emre fits both those descriptions, and as soon as we discovered her work, we knew she was a creative force to be reckoned with. We interviewed Emre about what inspires her, go-to products, and what beauty means to her. Read the full Q&A below:
Tell us a bit about the styles of art you work most often in.
I studied graphic design at Parsons The New School for Design and while working on my thesis project I knew I wanted to focus my work around the idea of culture, specifically the culture that has shaped me. It only made sense that my starting point would be my family. I gathered old family photos and played around with them in Illustrator. My creative process usually does not allow me to see the end result from the beginning so I often give myself enough room to explore how I feel about my subject and my work. I start all of my work by exploring my feelings.
What struck me most was looking at an old photo of my grandmother; since forever I have heard my mom talk about her mother, but was never fortunate enough to meet her. What I felt looking at that photo brought up an unexplored territory of feelings which gradually started shaping my style. The people in the photos, their dresses and their presence pushed me to play around with the photos even more until I was satisfied with the way they looked. I wanted to transport my grandmother and the people in the photos in to today. Since then, I hunt for old photos and old memories and try to keep them alive by giving them a new environment to live in. I’m still in the process of exploring the styles of art I work in, but I know how important it is for me to connect to my subjects, and I feel I’m most inspired by photography.
Looking at your website, I can see many elements of graphic/geometric shapes, symmetry, and color. How would you best describe your artistic aesthetic?
I never saw myself as an artist, I studied to be a designer and as a result of my education I tend to look at art mainly through a designer’s perspective. However, recently my interest in found photography gave me a unique style of making a composition that I find visually appealing. I’m very interested in symmetry and color; I like creating compositions through mirroring shapes and working around negative space in my compositions. But I do this with mostly based off of instinct. I’d like to believe that I have a bond with the people in the photos and this bond drives my style. When I make these compositions I feel a certain responsibility towards my subject, whether I know them personally or not. I have to respect and try to understand the life they once lived. I want to use my designs to build a bond with someone that I never had the chance to meet.
Tell us a bit about your personal beauty routine and some of your favorite brands to use.
I don’t think I have a set beauty routine. Just like my work, I like to explore my options and not limit myself. There are certain brands I trust and stick with. Glossier and Milk Make-up would be some of them. I love that these two brands have democratized beauty, and cater to youth instead of following in the footsteps of more established beauty brands. The beauty industry definitely needed a fresh new approach and these in time will break the beauty standards that have made so many girls feel left out.
What does “beauty” mean to you? How would you define it?
I think beauty is character; this goes for people, and for cities. I’m attracted to people who carry their hearts on their sleeves. What’s different is the most beautiful.
Thinking about cities, I believe culture makes up character. Some cities embrace their culture, and welcome so many more with open arms. This is also why Istanbul inspires my work. Istanbul has always been home to many different cultures throughout history and walking down the streets this is available, as well as unavoidable for everyone. I’m very excited to travel more, and experience as many cultures as I can in the future.
You grew up in Istanbul, but now call New York City home. How does your growing up in Turkey influence you as an artist and as a person in general?
I didn’t realize the value of growing up in a rich and unique culture until I moved to New York. I learned to define myself through my culture in a city with so many different worldviews. The distance I experience, the idea of being far away from my home gave me a new perspective on my country and its situation. Experiencing the struggle of my people from far away keeps motivating me to do my best everyday.
What made you want to move to the U.S., and NYC specifically?My sister has been a guide to me in every possible way since the day I was born. Her moving to New York while I was still in high school gave me a chance to frequently visit her in the city, and with every visit I fell more in love with New York. I felt I knew and understood what lied at the heart of this metropolitan, and having any sort of knowledge about the city I was going to move to by myself was definitely a source of comfort. It almost felt like a compromise because though I had spent some time there, and was lucky enough to experience the lifestyle through her eyes, it was still uncharted territory for me. There was also no denying the fact that New York is one of the best cities to visually educate myself with so many museums, art and creative people constantly available to anyone who is lucky enough to spend some time there.