San Francisco based artist & designer Çiğdem Michalski (aka Chi) has all the right skills in all the right places, with an effortless style to boot.
Born in Istanbul and currently based in San Francisco, Chi is an extremely versatile and talented artist, with skills across the board in illustration, arts & textiles as well as motion design.
For the past decade Chi has been half of the creative duo running Istanbul’s premiere motion design studio - imago.
These days she focuses primarily on illustration, arts and textiles, as well as occasionally designing and art directing motion pieces.
Çiğdem’s unique style is inspired in equal part by nature, urban culture and folk art. To create her pieces, she uses a mix of traditional and digital media, utilising both the techniques that have been around for thousands of years and all the latest developments of the digital era.
We're big fans, and you'll soon see why!
Anniversary: Everyday Heading
To celebrate the first quarter-thousand (250) entries in the ChiChiLand Everyday Project, I created this piece, featuring a cross-section of the population of this series. Around a month later, Anniversary was followed by another piece, Long Way Home – this time, celebrating 300 posts.
Long Way Home
Originally intended as a header for the Facebook page of ChiChiLand Everyday Project celebrating the 300th illustration, Long Way Home is an attempt to capture the richness of the ChiChiLand world and its inhabitants. It can also be considered a sequel to Anniversary: Everyday Heading.
When did you first get into illustration?
I am guessing you mean professional illustration :) I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember - but it’s always been just a hobby, while the design paid the bills. Around 2004 I decided to quit my career as an art director for web/interactive and start a motion design boutique.
With a unique blend of shape, type and illustration-driven works motion design requires, I finally got the chance to start illustrating as a part of my career.
This was also the first time I started working with digital illustration - Photoshop and Corel Draw being my tools of choice. Nowadays I often jump back and forth between the digital and handmade, using paper for sketches, art and character design and a PC for composition, colour and finishing.
What are some of your major influences?
This is going to be like one of these award acceptance speeches. For influencing me I’d like to thank: nature, old-school motion design, video games, contemporary and vintage Japanese art and culture, Anatolian folk art, patterns and textile design, food and life in general.
Have those influences changed over time?
I guess over time I gain more and more appreciation for my roots - when I was younger, the latest trends and hip artists were my biggest influence. Now I see how “fresh” trends come and go, while the well-aged art that stood the test of time keeps coming back again and again.
If you could collaborate with any artist right now, who would it be?
There are many artists I would absolutely love to work with, but if I was to pick one, it would be definitely Keita Takahashi - a Japanese game designer and author of such titles as “Katamari Damacy”, “Noby Noby Boy” and “Tenya Wanya Teens”
After a long days work, I like to unwind by… My San Francisco apartment does not have the bathtub, so… yoga. A glass of wine and a silly romcom are not too bad, either!
Right now I’m listening to… My keyboard going clickity-clickity-click.
The last great book I read was… “Rosso Istanbul” by Ferzan Özpetek - a Turkish/Italian screenwriter and director.
My top three films are… “Holy Motors” by Leos Carax, “The Fall” by Tarsem Singh, or anything by Edgar Wright, especially “Scott Pilgrim versus the World” and “World’s End”.
If I wasn’t doing this I’d be… Performing arts, physical theater, dance. Something stage-related for sure.