Home / Interview With Art Director Caner Çolakoğlu

Interview With Art Director Caner Çolakoğlu

Today, we are joined by Caner Çolakoğlu , he is an Art Director. You can view his portfolio here.

  • Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration and Branding started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!

You’re welcome, I also would like to thank you for this opportunity. There are two moments that changed my route:
First of all, I’ve always enjoyed art from an early age. I remember spending most of my time with drawing all day long and being inspired to design things when I was a child. It was my childhood dream to become an artist. I started digital art when I was 14 and from that day on I always tried to create something new every day, they were all silly works, but it trained my eyes to separate the bad work from the good one. When I was 20, I had teenage problems like everyone else. I tried to find a path in art, but my family didn’t like my idea of earning money through design or art. One day, I returned home from an office job interview, my cousins Armağan and Bertan are (I prefer calling them big brothers) told me “You must continue, you have future in this business.” and that push gave me courage to work and one day I got a job at a graphic design agency. A few years later, I was at the office and I wanted to draw something. I love vector art and creating logos but never tried anything hard like drawing a portrait or a landscape as a vector. That day I got beyond my limits and saw that nothing is hard or impossible, the only important thing is willing to achieve! That idea made me go this route.

  • Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?

I’m in this business since 2005 and learned almost everything by myself. You may call it the hard way but I had to make mistakes to gain experience. I never had a good teacher to learn how to design or to paint from him/her, I was alone all the time at work and everywhere I worked for, there was no senior on the top to teach me a few things.

It was a little painful, because there was no internet source or tutorials about what I want to learn when I started to use Photoshop and freehand, curiosity helped me to learn it. When curiosity fails, I start inspecting and observing artworks and professional artists. I learn a lot of thing through looking an artwork. In last few years I’ve changed and became more stable and a niggling person.

  • What does your creative process look like?

It’s more like looking at a painting of Salvador Dali, my creative process begins in my mind. I don’t like sketching too much but I love preparation for eureka moment. If I am going to design a logo, an artwork or a website I start searching the origin of it. Without thinking or focusing too much on the work, I rather stay relaxed and start working when the inspiration comes.

  • Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?

I love to read Bryony Gomez-Palacio‘s Graphic Design, Referenced. It’s a good reference for graphic design history and for branding Alina Wheeler‘s Designing Brand Identity.

Well, I’m using mostly Photoshop and Illustrator and I love Corel Painter.

Behance is the most important media for me. Most people look at Facebook every morning, I check my Behance account. We can’t visit an art gallery every hour but we can visit Behance every minute. Inspecting a good work is a good way to starting a good day.

And I also love watching Helvetica documentary over and over again.


  • Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?

Yes, my special place is my room. It always keeps pushing me to create and work more. I designed everything -even my furniture- in my room. It’s like a living organism and keeps changing with me. I also love to create things for my family, I love to make them happy with my works. But my real inspiration sources are my friends and my partners Serdar and Orkun, even just a small chat can give me real good ideas. When we start thinking, we can’t stop ourselves.

  • What are some common mistakes which identity designers make?

There are so many mistakes actually. More common one is “following trends”. Choosing to design an identity based on current trends is likely to leave your logo looking dated and out-of-touch as soon as the trend dies. An identity must be timeless.
We have to think about what’s more likely to have longevity for an identity. For example, the current logo of New York Times and BBC or CNN are still not outdated. And brand perception is variable in each country but a designer should design the identity for customers, not for clients.

It’s good to practice to run through a checklist when you design identity, before start designing, start preparation. And never forget this; Amat Victoria Curam (Victory Loves Preparation).

Another common mistake is using too many fonts and colors, I’m not even going to mention about making you look slightly more amateur.

A more important mistake is; not considering the brand positioning  Branding is a concept that stretches far beyond identity design, but in order to design a logo that truly reflects the identity of the brand for which it’s being designed, one must understand the positioning of this brand. Brand positioning is all about the relationship of one brand to other brands, usually primary competitors. That the identity you are designing must look like it belongs to the place where the brand is positioned. Thinking about that will raise the chances of your logo receiving a positive perception from customers.

For example most of the university logos looks more complex and detailed because they sell knowledge but a company’s logo is more simple and more catchy because they sell concrete products.

  • Can you detail the identity design process and how long this usually takes?

For me it’s mostly one month or two months, like Isaid, I love preparation. First of all, I start with brand positioning, you can’t design a low value identity for high value clients. Also brand positioning helps you to choose the right font and then choosing color palette. When my checklist and my preparations ready I start drawing. The checklist can show me which lines I can cross and which I can’t.

  • What are common challenges which identity designers encounter?

Most common one I think; Designing can easily become a highly personal and passionate experience, so knowing for whom an identity is being created can be a hard lesson to learn, and that’s not a challenge just for designers, most of the time clients are also guilty of analyzing a design based on their personal tastes rather than their customer’s needs.

Asking the right questions to your clients is also important, a designer should design logos for customers, but if you don’t know the habits and behaviorsof the customers you should ask your clients.

There are some new challenges for designers in the world we are living, being original is really hard these days because, two different people can dream the same thing. Your work can be a doppelganger of another work, avoiding that is really hard.


  • Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?

A good morning effects my productivity, Ilike working at nights but not always. Not focusing too much on my work is the key for my productivity, and if I get stuck on something I immediately give a break, that way I can ignore stress,I guessI am  more productive when I am relaxed.

  • What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?

I’m supporting remote work opportunities, a designer can’t be local. Like they say art is universal and an artist or a designer should cross their regions. So they can learn more and create more.

  • What would you prefer: a steady, well-paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?

In my professional life I did both. I’m working as an Art consultant in Epigra, and I have an agency with my friends, it is named Academy Kolektif. Actually local agency jobs can be more stressful, because you should have free time to think. A person can’t be creative every day, but it depends on the agency. A well-paying job and being a part of a good team can be relaxing. For me, being myself is more important when designing.

  • How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?

The ideal project for me is having a common goal with my clients and my friends, I like to design together with them. It makes me happy to share my sense of ownership with them. My real opportunity is the video game project “Path of the Sun” that we are working on with my partners, we didn’t share any news about it but I think this is the right moment for some news. We are working on the gameplay and level designing nowadays and finished our logo and identity. We are preparing to release a playable demoin fall and I’m really excited about it.

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