Ozge Samanci is a multi-faceted artist from Turkey, based in Chicago. She brings her graphic novel Dare to Disappoint to the Last Bookstore this Wednesday night. Here’s an intro to her backstory and body of work.
Last Bookstore – You do both the art and the writing for your graphic novel Dare to Disappoint. Can you talk about your process a bit? (For example, between words or pictures, does one come first or just all at once? How do you know when you’re finished? Etc..)
Ozge Samanci – First I make a draft of the entire book. I work chapter by chapter. While writing a draft, I prefer to work with a ballpoint pen and write on paper. The reason for using ballpoint pen is that the images and ideas come to my mind so fast. Ballpoint allows me to keep up and write and draw as quickly as I can. My hand cannot keep up with my thinking speed though, and I end up forgetting or skipping details before I write them. Sometimes I write and draw so fast, one day later, I cannot read what I wrote. When my hand speeds up that is always a good sign. It means that I am travelling in the mental image. I write with images and text. I write a couple sentences and make a quick sketch in 10 seconds, then I move to another sentence. I see one frame at a time in my mind.
Once I am done with a draft of a chapter, I am the only person who can read it. Pages are full of half sentences, doodles, arrows pointing here and there. Then, I complete sentences; I fix the grammar, and make the images understandable. After the entire book draft is done and the editor and I are on the same page, I begin making the images.
LBS – Do you think the economic difficulties of your youth had anything to do with the development of your creative impulses? In other words, if you had had a so-called “comfortable” upbringing, do you think you’d be an artist now?
OS – It is hard to guess that. My mom and my sister had a big role on the development of my creative side. With my sister, as kids, we wrote plays, made a puppet box, performed for other kids in the neighborhood. Our favorite activity was drawing. I still miss the fun we had at that time. If we were not well behaved my mom would hide our pastels, water colors, markers, and papers for a week. We used to be very miserable if we got this punishment. My mom is a storyteller; she is quite entertaining. If I would have had a “comfortable” upbringing but still have the same mom and sister, I think I would still be an artist. In that case, I would tell different stories but I believe there would be other kinds of stories burning in me.
LBS – Though it is your personal story, the struggles you talk about in Dare to Disappoint might not be universal, but they are not uncommon either: a young person defying parental/cultural expectation in finding their own career/life path. Is your book directed at young people who might be in a situation similar to yours? If so (or if not), is there anything you would add in the way of direct advice to a young person wrestling with such important decisions?
OS – Dare to Disappoint addresses anyone above 14 who is trying to find their call in their lives. It also addresses adults who went thru the same trouble in the past. I think the key advice is to take risks, dare to disappoint, but work really hard. I don’t believe in talent. I believe in persistence.
LBS – You have some really incredible art installation projects on your website, your background being more in digital media than in straight illustration.
OS – Thank you for digging my website. I teach interactive art at Northwestern University. Fiber Optic Ocean is the last piece I produced. In that piece, I got out of my comfort zone, lead a team, and combined sculpture, light and sound design, real time data visualization and sonification, 3D modelling, and 3D printing, mold making for the purpose of communicating a meaningful concept.
A video of the piece explains it well. [same link as above – definitely worth a look]
LBS – Are there any art books you would recommend for someone who wants to get started drawing, making comic books or art in general?
OS – Lynda Barry’s books are great: Syllabus and What it is.
I don’t remember learning drawing from books, though. I was just drawing a lot. It also helps to be around people who draw. Watching a practicing artist at work, talking to them helps a lot. I made a comic for this question many years ago.
We hope to see you Wednesday night for Ozge Samanci’s presentation of Dare to Disappoint. Don’t forget to check out the amzing stuff on her website.