Nowadays Graphic Design is viewed as a desktop job. With the advancing technology, the number of art directors who work with their hands are rapidly declining. Handan and Meriç Karabulut, residing in Beşiktaş, have met letterpress in San Siego State University, after graduating from Anadolu University’s Graphic Design department in 2007. Upon returning to İstanbul, they have both began working as art directors at valuable agencies of Turkey. Reserving one of their rooms a home for the letterpress they met in US and found with difficulty, they establish their own studio, “Rulo”. Hello From İstanbul and Da Sirk products, sold in www.rulotipo.com and many boutique design shops, come to life here.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
H: I graduated from the Graphic Design department of Anadolu University, Faculty of Fine Arts in 2007. During school, I studied one term in Ghent, Belgium and another year in San Diego State University with Meriç. Now, I’m working as an art director for the advertising agency Alametifarika.
M: I graduated from the Graphic Design department of Anadolu University, Faculty of Fine Arts in 2008. I studied my 3rd year in San Diego State University with Handan. Now I’m working as an art director for Tribal Worldwide.
How do you recall the years you studied abroad?
H: I went to Belgium the first term of my 4th year. I believe where you live effects you tremendously. Especially going to a different country than the one you grew up in, you are completely renewed. That’s what happened to me too. Then we went to San Diego State University with Meriç for one year. That was a whole other experience, even if it’s just the distance from Turkey; totally new but sometimes a bit difficult. Having completed my Graphic Design courses in Anadolu University, I took different courses such as textile, bookbinding and letterpress, which effected my design style.
M: Studying abroad allowed us to experience many new things. Especially in the area of printing, we were introduced to letterpress and bookbinding, art books, which we unfortunately cannot experience in our own country. It was a wonderful experience for the time I spent there and afterwards.
How did you decide to buy the letterpress? Was it hard to find?
Yes, one of the rooms of our 2+1 apartment belong to Vandercook. After taking the letterpress course, I had decided to buy the machine even before returning to Turkey, but I didn’t really have any hope. Upon returning, I printed a few types of machines on an A4 and began asking printing houses. For 2 years, there were no signs of hope. Either nobody remembered the machines or they were already sent to blacksmiths many years ago. This is a 350 kg machine I’m talking about, blacksmiths would pay good money for it. During one of these trips, I visited a tiny printing alley but I was late. All the shops were closed except for a shoe repairmen. That man recognized the machine nobody recognized for 2 years and found the exact same model we worked with in San Diego! We bought the machine but couldn’t fit it in our 55 m2 apartment, we visited it where we bought it for a year. This year, we finally moved where we were able to allocate one of our rooms to it.
How do you get the supplies you need for the letterpress?
The metal or wooden typefaces weren’t valued after letterpress was out of action. The wooden ones were burnt, the metals mostly liquefied. I try to get my supplies from abroad. These are 50-60 year old typefaces; used in newspapers, street posters… We might say they have life experiences of their own. Sometimes after I buy a set, I excitedly wait for its arrival up to 2 months!
What kind of a technique is linocut? Is it hard to work with such detail?
I think linocut is the most fun to prepare and print among printing techniques. Basically, we can describe it as carving the surface only to leave the areas that you want to appear on the print. As for the material, I prefer vinyl floor covering but there are special linocut materials in art shops. I don’t find carving the details of the linocut hard, but it can be confusing to estimate the balance and to see what you carve on the left come up on the right when printed. Sometimes you have to make permanent choices for the designs and that can be hard.
How were Hello From İstanbul, Rulo and Da Sirk born? Where do they want to go next?
Actually they want to come together, meet in one place; a printing, design, workshop atelier. There, they want to reproduce, multiply, meet their fans :)
Do you have new projects for the future?
H: I want to create new products for Hello From İstanbul. I’m long on area but short on time; still, I’m hoping to have a new line before summer :) Apart from that, I want to work on a new letterpress poster series but I don’t want to spoil the surprise :)
M: I want to work on even larger scales than my current prints and hold an exhibition with them.
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