When looking at the activities that exist between the Netherlands and Turkey in the field of graphic design, there is not really collaboration but Dutch graphic designers are invited to Turkey to show their work. There is no or very little graphic design from Turkey visible in the Netherlands, even though there are some Turkish graphic designers working in the Netherlands.
Organize debates on graphic design
Discussions in the graphic design scene in Turkey focus on:
- The three E’s: Economics, Employment and Education. ‘What am I going to do after finishing my school?’ Many graduates want to go to the EU for further education.
- Terminology: ‘What is the difference between graphic design and graphic art?’
- Turkish graphic design identity; ‘Does it exist?’
- Current trends like coffee table books.
Any Dutch-Turkish collaborations on the discussions of the day are welcomed, but these discussions will be different in 2012 so it is hard to see so far ahead. Some type of activities that have a fixed format, but are flexible in content, can be more suitable for the Turkish context because interests in and social relevance of topics changes fast.
Support university collaborations
The big increase in the number of Turkish students that want to study communication design, graphic design etc., reflects an international trend. Collaboration with universities on communication design and graphic design would be a good initiative to deal with the growing interest. Grafist, the International Istanbul Graphic Design Week organized by the Graphic Design Department of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University is an educational based event. Since 1997, every year designers, educators and students from several countries gather in Grafist. The event is supported by the Dutch General Consulate in Istanbul. Dutch graphic designers, Anthon Beeke, Irma Boom, Jan van Toorn, Rick Vermeulen and many others have been hosted by Grafist in different years to conduct workshops, to exhibit their works and to lecture.
Focus on knowledge exchange
How to get the most out of the graphic design commissioning process? Government institutions and local authorities are very slow to understand the importance of communication design. The Netherlands have a strong tradition in government and semi-government commissioners that brought about excellent graphic and communication design. A meeting between Turkish government institutions and personnel dealing with design may be organized so that they can meet and exchange knowledge with their Dutch counterparts. There is interest in collaboration and know-how support for the founding of a Graphic Design Museum.
Typography and communication design
In Turkey, the term contemporary graphic design is commonly understood as ‘experimental’ or ‘design for the sake of designer’. This often results in over-design or communication mistakes. The relation between typography and language is crucial.
The Turkish language reforms of 1928 changed the alphabet from Ottoman-Arabic letters to the Latin alphabet (with some additional letters: ş,ç,ğ,ü,ö,İ,ı and without q, x and w). Because there are different political connotations to the Latin alphabet and the (not longer used) Ottoman-Arabic alphabet, it is not common for Turkish graphical designers to mix these letter types or be playful with references to Arab or arabesque typography (although it may be acceptable for covers of arabesque music or for visual communication concerning an oriental dance performance). The letters q, x and w are politically loaded because they exist in Kurdish Audiences in Turkey and respond more to the political signal of a mix of letter types, than to the content of the text. The use of these letters is forbidden, but the rule is applied selectively since ‘www’ is widely used. Many designers in Turkey, young or experienced, understand typography as playing games with letterforms and layout. Exchange with the Netherlands, which has a strong typography tradition, is welcome. When exhibitions are created in Turkey and the Netherlands, Turkish and Dutch graphic designers and typographers could be asked to work together on a 2012 letter type and corporate identity.
Multidisciplinary design teams
There is no multidisciplinary design education nor are there multidisciplinary design studios in Turkey. There are no real relations between different design disciplines. Every design area works on its own. The root of this behavior lies in design education. Departments of different design disciplines do not collaborate in schools. The Netherlands have experience in multidisciplinary design projects and multidisciplinary design teams working on complex problems. Turkish designers may be interested to be asked to join such projects and teams.
Popular and youth culture
Graphic design in popular and youth culture is used to support consumerism; not communication in the real sense. Maybe graphic design is serving to identify different youth subcultures. Turkish youth is not reading but prefers watching. Participatory projects helping youth reflect on and produce their own graphic forms are interesting.
Market opportunities in graphic design
In 1998, within the program of International Istanbul Design Encounters, packaging designers from four countries (Austria, Israel, Japan and Turkey) have exhibited their professional work in Istanbul Packaging Fair, organized by Tüyap Fairs and Exhibitions Inc. During the four-day fair, they had the possibility of meeting design clients and they received a lot of packaging design commissions besides giving lectures and conducting workshops in universities. A similar event could be organized in collaboration by Tüyap for Dutch designers.
Take cartoons serious
Cartoons in newspapers and magazines are extremely popular in Turkey. They are often explicitly critical (not common in Turkish society) of politics and of developments in the country and abroad. They are amongst the most powerful cultural forms in Turkey. Cartoons are serious business as well as serious commentators of contemporary Turkey. The Dutch Persmuseum has a Dutch-Turkish Cartoon exhibition that needs to be shown and discussed in the Netherlands. Turkish cartoonists should be invited to the Netherlands to tell their tall stories on being a cartoonist in Turkey, and to teach the Dutch artists a thing or two about how to make truly critical and humorous work for a massive fan-base.
Collaborate on illustration and animation
There is no collaboration in illustration and animation. This needs to change. Animation is popular with the newest generation of university students. For 10 years now a new scene of illustrators has been active. These young illustrators can follow developments in the field of illustration everywhere in the world, because they can see works on the internet and illustration related magazines. On the business side however, it is more difficult for Turkish illustrators to make sense of how things work in other countries. In Turkey, internet, advertizing and TV companies do not have in-house illustrators or managers of illustrators and they only work with freelancers. There are no standardized price ranges and the scene is not well organized. Lately there have been group exhibitions in galleries focusing on illustrators. Turkish illustrators are interested to meet Dutch colleagues and talk about how the illustrators in the Netherlands organize professionally (lobby and associations) and how the business side works there (practically in terms of price ranges, contracts etc) how commissioners work. Maybe Dutch illustration commissioners could be interviewed and present their way of working to Turkish commissioners.
Invest in these events
The Netherlands may be the guest of honour at the 32nd Istanbul Book Fair. Events about the Dutch Book Culture, a book design exhibition. The other way around the “Book’s Odyssey, 500 Years of Multi-Cultural and Multi-Lingual Publishing in Turkey” and “The Book’s Façade, Book and Book Cover Designs from Turkey” exhibitions travel to The Netherlands.
GRAFIST 17, the 17th Istanbul International Graphic Design Week, Special Dutch Events: Students and Young Academics Exchange, Student Exhibitions in Turkey and the Netherlands, seminars and workshops.
Yahşibey, Multi-disciplinary design workshops attended by Turkish and Dutch students and designers.