Elif Sezgin is an art director, who has worked in many different advertising agencies. She has created “Mutant Power” to put the computer aside for a while and enjoy creating with her own hands; turning the characters she has drawn into soft toys. She draws, designs, sews and writes stories at her flat in Kadıköy. Pouring all her love, effort and crafting abilities into her characters.
How does Elif Sezgin define herself? Could you please tell us about yourself?
It’s hard for one to describe themselves. I can say I’m a normal person, who talks to herself. My mind’s a bit confused, I contain some “crazy”, as they call it. I’m also a bit hyperactive and I talk too much. I love viewing, seeing, listening. Not producing makes me unhappy. From time to time, I can sit still, not thinking about anything. I’m like a cartoon character, I try to see the good in everything. But beware my bad side! I work as an art director at various agencies to pay the bills. I love spending time with loved ones. I also like to meet new people. Actually I try to break the boundaries at every aspect of my life, the current ones cannot contain me. Hello, people I haven’t met yet! : )
How did you begin designing toys?
While I was browsing the web, I came across the “Sock Monster” tutorials, creating monsters from socks, and loved it! Since I’m already a person who has to make stuff all the time and can be interested in five things at a time, I sewed some sock monsters right then and there by hand. Then I wrote their stories and turned them into characters in my own realm. Next, with my mother’s help, I put our old sewing machine to use. First, I was using the old fabrics at home. Then a new love for fabric was also born.
Could you talk about the branding process of Mutant Power?
At a period when I had quit one of my agency jobs, I looked at my characters and thought I could design them a world of their own. I took my sewing machine, my computer, fabrics, threads and needles and moved to Heybeliada. I drew, sewed, tried, re-sewed, researched, wrote… Mutant Power was the most suitable name I could think of. I wrote its story, designed its logo, got the tags printed and sewed them. Took their photographs in the snow and put them on the website. Did illustrations for their stories and created mini story books.
Mutants have amusing stories along their striking designs. What were you inspired by while you wrote them?
While writing the stories I first looked at the characters. Sometimes, I thought about historical characters that could be their friends. I imagined the fantastical times they could have had together. For Moguu’s story, I was inspired by my boyfriend, who is always supportive of me.
It was no wonder that triangle-headed Diego had met Christopher Columbus at the Bermuda Triangle. Legend has it that at times two universes coincide at the Bermuda Triangle, causing intergalactic transitions. And at each one of these, with each ship getting lost, a Diego would be born. These may sound weird to you, but I believe them. : )
How is a mutant born? How does the process work?
I sketch while creating the characters. Meanwhile, I also begin to imagine what its story might be. I make its mould. Looking at the material at hand, I go shopping if I need to, and get lost in Eminönü. I draw, cut, sew, fill and add the finishing touches by hand.
How can you sew so perfectly and fast? Did you get a training?
I was taught to use the sewing machine by “the best”, my mother. Then I taught myself. I guess I have an eye for it. And being a designer, I’m extra meticulous. You know what they say, “Quality is our beloved!”
You also work as an art director when you’re not designing toys. Which one do you like better?
I enjoy both of them. We can say one is a job while the other is a passion.
As someone born and raised in the islands, how do you like İstanbul?
I try to be on good terms with İstanbul but there are too many people, too many cars, buildings and noise while there aren’t enough parks, forests and oxygen. Riding a bicycle can be usually scary. Thus, from time to time I have a yearning to go to the islands.
Would you like to talk a bit about your future plans?
To create more, to write more, to read more… I want to expand to every aspect of design and art. Hack the existing ones, break them up and reconstruct them in my own way. Join exhibitions in Turkey and abroad, hold my own exhibition. Meet new people, collaborate on projects, and always keep going.
Elif Sezgin'in Önerileri
The Missing Scarf - Eoin Duffy