Make It on Mobile: Irmak Akçadoğan Cannot Stop Drawing
Irmak Akçadoğan began drawing at age two. By age three, her canvas included her bedroom curtains (with her parents’ enthusiastic encouragement of course). When the natural drive to create is that strong, you don’t ignore it; you find ways to let the colors out wherever you can.
So it makes sense that Irmak has taken to Adobe mobile apps like Illustrator Draw and Capture CC, which let her create expressive drawings whenever the urge strikes – and make it super easy to add extra touches in Illustrator or Photoshop later when she’s back at her desktop.
A lot of Irmak’s pieces make us stop and stare, but we can’t get enough of her portrait illustration series. Each seem almost ephemeral in nature, focusing on a single woman obscured by loosely woven masks of texture and color.
Irmak let us in on how she creates – from starting drawings in Draw or Photoshop Sketch, using Capture to make one of a kind brushes, and finally bringing it all together with desktop apps to create exquisite portraits and energetic textile designs.
Can you tell us a bit about your background as a designer? How’d you get your start?
I was born in Istanbul in 1974. I guess I was very lucky as a child. My father was a painter and my mother was an interior designer, so I grew up surrounded by art materials and was painting by age two. When I was three years old, my mother laid my bedroom curtains on the floor and I painted over them with acrylics. They never told me not to draw on the walls – I was free to draw anywhere with any material I wished. When your life starts like this, you have no option but to constantly draw and paint.
My love for painting only grew from there. I received my master’s degree from Marmara University, Faculty of Fine Arts in 2002. In 2006, I completed my proficiency in art studies (Ph.D. in fine arts) at the Department of Graphics, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. Later that year, my book Basic Design Education and Digital Media was published. These days, I work as an academic at Dogus University.
We love your black ink and watercolor portraits. How do your hand drawn skills translate into creating art in Adobe mobile apps?
Even though traditional materials like ink, watercolors and markers are always by my side, I’m constantly looking for something new. Before I started using Draw and Sketch, I’d have to scan or photograph my hand drawings into Illustrator and Photoshop. Now this process is much easier.
When an idea comes up in my mind and there are no drawing materials with me, I don’t have to worry about losing the idea because I always have my iPhone or iPad. I create brushes in Capture and use them in Sketch. Sometimes I send the illustrations to Draw to refine them even more.
But the best part is I can see whatever I create on the mobile apps later in Illustrator or Photoshop. It’s such a convenience. My 20 GB Creative Cloud account enables me to keep all of my projects on one platform.
Do you have any tips or tricks for using Adobe mobile apps that you can share?
I design using a multi-layered technique. And by layers, I don’t necessarily mean the layers Adobe apps use. The layers in my workflow are made using different techniques, and a single material is never enough for me. Even if I am working with watercolors, I’ll layer markers, crayons, sponges, spray paint and ink.
I might start a vector design in Draw and then develop it more in Sketch. I can create new brushes to add to my layers in seconds using Capture.
The mobile apps support my multi-layered method of creating. I love that while using them I can still make use of art I developed using traditional media right along with all of my brushes created in Capture.
Has incorporating Adobe mobile apps into your workflow changed the way you design?
My design process has definitely become more practical. With Capture, a little doodle drawn on a notebook corner during a meeting can become a brush for my Photoshop, Illustrator or Sketch projects. A stain on a wall or a beautiful tree photographed during a walk can be transformed into vector shapes.
In the past, I would first scan my drawings, then trace them to turn to vector. Next I’d create custom brushes in Photoshop from part of my drawings. I do both of these things now in Capture. I feel like this new workflow will help my artwork be more personal and unique.
I also use Comp CC to create layouts for a sketches I have floating around in my mind–no matter where I am–and then complete the design on the desktop. These conveniences provide freedom beyond anything that I could imagine.
As a designer, illustrator and academician I have to keep up with design innovations. I love being able to combine my personal design mindset with my creativity in the most harmonious manner thanks to the possibilities provided by new technology.
We see that you often showcase clothing in your Behance projects. How did you start incorporating your designs onto textiles?
We all love differentiating ourselves as creatives through uniquely designed products. In response to this, I’m seeing more platforms that make it easy for designers to infuse color into our day to day lives through clothing design. Illustrators from all over the world collaborate via these sites. And through cultural exchange new design trends can be formed. It’s awesome to be able to profit from your designs without dealing with the problems associated with production, retail and distribution.
Any words of advice for designers looking to move from traditional tools like canvas or ink to Adobe mobile apps?
I advise them not to waste any time getting started. To be indifferent to new possibilities that technology presents does not seem beneficial to me. Of course working with traditional methods, using colors with your own hands, smelling the odors of paints boosts your creativity in irreplaceable ways. However there is a beauty to Adobe mobile apps; without changing your methods too much you can adapt the apps to your workflow with great speed. And maybe a bit of new variety, too.