Justin Eccles: “Istanbul is a feast for the senses… smell the chestnuts being roasted in the park below, hear the eskici calling in the streets, taste my morning Turkish tea and touch the hot tea glass.”

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Justin Eccles, my dear friend, where are you from?

I originally come from the center of America, a small farming state called Iowa.

You are involved in the arts? What is your art background and what influences your work?

Art has been one of the strongest building blocks of my life. From an early age I was encouraged by my parents, who are both artists and creators, to explore and develop my artistic skills. I worked in publishing as an art director and designer for five years before coming to Turkey. I produce art because I am compelled to, it is who I am created to be.

As a painter and a graphic artist, can you describe your work?
Studying both fine art and graphic design at university has been instrumental in developing my current style. My work is influenced by the communication graphics of popular culture. I would like to change the self centered message of consumption to a loving message of hope.

Visual communication, graphic design, photography, painting, collage and screen printing are all techniques I used in my art.

Why did you choose İstanbul to come to and when did you arrive? Specifically, why did you settle in Moda?

Moda is one of the first neighborhoods I visited on the Asian side after I arrived in Istanbul. I immediately felt relaxed and accepted as a foreigner there. Moda is an inspiring community, full of diversity. I feel at home in Moda.

Are there any turkish artists that inspire you or that you admire?
I admire Erkut Terliksiz. I met him a few years ago and have followed his career. His work is inspiring.
You recently published a photographic/design book about Istanbul. Tell me about this book “Istanbul Moves”. What is its concept? What inspired you to create it?
My talented friend Jose Reina and I collaborated on the book “Istanbul Moves”. It is a contemporary photography book about the modern city of Istanbul. It is a united collection of works that mix graphic design and photography. It is a work of art that has been mass produced allowing everyone the opportunity to posses It. It is intended to spark conversation about contemporary art done as a tribute to the city center. It will appeal to a wide audience, from art lovers to the average person who is considering a new perspective. “Istanbul Moves” is visually communicating the symmetry and reflection of a place that has many contradictions and opposite extremes. The powerful appeal of this book is seeing the reality of the city thru the artists’ expression. I strove to capture the real Istanbul, that residents can recognize and visitors can seek after.
Do you have other book projects?
Jose Reina and I are working on a second photography book. It should be ready for release in the fall.
You are the member of the board Lokomotif Art & Culture Association. What is your role in Lokomotif?
I serve on the board of Lokomotif and help with the projects we do, mainly thru creating the graphics for events, hosting shows at my gallery and participating in Lokomotif activities.
What is the “happiness” for you?
Knowing that God loves me; knowing that my wife, children and family love me; and knowing that I have good friends that love me and that I can in return love them. Being in right relationship with God and the people in my life is the most important thing. It brings true, deep, happiness that is unshakeable.
What is “success”?
For me, success is continuing to transform into a better person and being true to my values.
What, according to you, is the aim of art?
The purpose of art is to communicate a message. I believe that whether an artist wants to or not they are saying something with every creation they make. The challenge is to have a message worthy of the time and effort put into it.

What kinds of events take place at your gallery The Art Studio?

The Art Studio invites artists to show their work in the gallery space. It is a place that helps bring new ideas thru art to Moda. We use art, music, and dance as a way to communicate.

Why did you choose to live in Istanbul?

Moving to Istanbul was an exotic adventure that turned into a love for the city and people. I find the city dynamic and living here I see and experience things that challenge me. I enjoy that I can travel to a part of the city I have been to many times before and yet when I arrive, there is something new to discover.

What do you think about the two sides of Istanbul, European and Anatolian? Is there any difference between them?
The lifestyle between the two sides is the most clear distinction I have noticed. I have lived on both sides and we have enjoyed the Anatolian side and its slower, more relaxed pace of life. It is important for me and my family, I have two children, to live where we can have time to enjoy each other.

How you would describe İstanbul with your five senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch?

Istanbul is a feast for the senses. From my window I can see the Boshporus and the boats filled with fishermen, smell the chestnuts being roasted in the park below, hear the eskici calling in the streets, taste my morning Turkish tea and touch the hot tea glass. At times, the city can be overwhelming, an assault to the senses but at the same time this is what makes the Istanbul so compelling. It reaches in and effects the whole person.

Any other thing you want to add?
Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
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