Okan Bülbül was born in Turkey in 1979. Since childhood, he has loved drawing and painting. He was encouraged by his teachers to attend an art school, but because he was also good at science his parents convinced him that being an engineer would make a better career. He attended a science high school before entering Middle East Technical University’s Mechanical Engineering department and subsequently transferring to the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. After graduating, he started working as an engineer in a company that produces construction machinery, but he never gave up drawing and painting. He became a self-taught illustrator and has taken many freelance jobs. He has illustrated children’s books, designed fantasy book covers, and painted portraits and sceneries, etc. He is married and has an adorable four-month-old daughter. He still works as an engineer by day and is a freelance artist by night (but only while his baby is sleeping). For more examples of his artwork please visit facebook.com/ArtofOkan or artofokan.deviantart.com.
First off I’d like to ask you a question in the spirit of Nightmare: What scares you the most?
Dogs scare me the most. A dog growling and showing its teeth is definitely the scariest thing for me.
Who has influenced you artistically?
I’d say all the illustrators of the comic book Conan inspired me. Especially Frank Frazetta with his brilliant covers. Yes, I think Frank Frazetta influenced me the most. There are many more artists I can add to this list such as Rembrandt, Bierstadt, Bouguereau, Sargent, Roberto Ferri . . .
Your style varies from realism, to horror, to cute and cartoonish. Do you have a favorite style?
I am most comfortable when I’m drawing a realistic figure. But I love creating challenges for myself, so I practiced and learned to draw fantasy, horror, and cartoonish-style drawings. I’ve also started drawing caricature-like characters these days. Maybe it would be better to focus on one style and become an expert at it, I don’t know. However, I love drawing in different styles, creating different compositions and thus giving different feelings to the viewers.
The image appearing as the cover of this month’s Nightmare, “Werewolf,” is a wonderful depiction of a classic monster. Why did you choose this particular angle for the portrait?
As I said, I am really scared of a dog with bared teeth. So I wanted to paint a picture which would scare me the most. That angle gave the most ferocious and scary feeling to me.
You have a wide range of portraits in your DeviantArt gallery. What is it about doing portraits that speaks to you?
Portraits of people, animals, monsters, cute creatures; they are all very appealing to me. I think the portraits are the best way to impart emotions to the viewers. I feel like I’m communicating with the viewer through my subject’s emotions whenever I draw a portrait, and it really fascinates me.
You also have a good mix of fan art as well as original art on display. What does creating fan art mean to you?
Fan art is my way of paying a tribute to the shows, books, and movies I like. I have to admit they are also really good ways to expand my audience.
What is your favorite medium to work with, and why?
My favorite art medium is my graphic tablet, i.e. digital mediums. I also love using traditional mediums and I use acrylics, pencils, inks, watercolors, crayons, and pastels. Digital media gives me more freedom; it enables me to explore different styles. Also, since I don’t have a studio to work in and to store my art supplies and my paintings, digital is the most suitable medium for me.
When you illustrate, do you have any little rituals? For example, is there a certain kind of music you like to listen to, or certain type of beverage or food you like to have on hand?
I love listening to classical music and protest music while I’m drawing. I also loved smoking while drawing, but since our baby was born, I don’t smoke at home anymore.
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