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Hi, my name is Metin Seven and I am a freelance designer and illustrator from the Netherlands. I'm active in the visual field since 1989 and since a few years I am working together with my wife -a motivated freelance webdesigner- in our modest building in the city of Hilversum, the Netherlands. Hilversum is located not far from Amsterdam and is known as the Dutch media capital. All important broadcast companies reside here, and more and more multimedia companies establish themselves in Hilversum as well.

Together with a programmer and a music composer I started my career as a computer game designer and graphic artist for the Commodore Amiga computer system. Our threesome was among the first commercial game creators based in the Netherlands. In the early Nineties two of our games became an international success: the platform action game Hoi and the puzzle game Clockwiser. The drawback of that success was that both foreign publishers (one from the United States and one from the United Kingdom) turned out to be unreliable and did not pay our revenues. We did receive a lot of reassuring recognition from the international computer game press though. Subsequently I gradually shifted my activities to full-time freelance design, illustration and animation work for several Dutch companies / publishers.

Nowadays I happily divide my energy between two main activities: magazine illustrations and 3D design for tangible purposes. You can find a selection of my magazine illustrations and miscellaneous work in my online portfolio Regarding the 3D design a partner of mine and I design retail displays, business gifts and miscellaneous products, but what I love even more is original 3D character design for tangible purposes, such as toy figures, custom character design for corporate assignments, character-based product design, and so on. I have collected most of my character-related work in my online project . You are heartily invited for a visit.

When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
Definitely. Initially I always wanted to become a writer / journalist. After graduating I started as an editor at the only commercial Dutch magazine for the Commodore Amiga computer system, which was still very popular in the late Eighties. But after a short while I realized that editing computer-related articles was not very motivating. Around the same time I got in touch with a Dutch agency for illustrators and animators called Comic House, whom I could assist in creating an animated series for Dutch television, using the Amiga. Working at the Comic House studio a fabulous new chapter commenced and the inspiring people at Comic House made me realize that creating imagery is what I want to do with my life.

Who or what inspires you?
Firstly I am very inspired by the seemingly endless creative possibilities of the digital era. I'm working with the 3ds Max software suite on a daily basis for seven years now and I have not become bored by it for a single moment. 3ds Max forms the most powerful extension of my imagination I could wish for.

Secondly there are definitely a number of people that create such beautiful things that they keep enchanting and inspiring me time after time. A fine example of such an inspiring person is my respected and multi-talented friend Pieter Hogenbirk ( His art never bores me. On an international level I simply adore the beauteous art of Lorenzo Mattotti, Dave McKean and the German comic artist Uli Oesterle. Their work is pure visual poetry and is endlessly inspiring to me. Last but not least Pixar makes me very happy. They have managed to recreate the quality, magic and innovation of the early Disney days.

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I am self-taught, and confident that everyone who has a bit of talent and the right amount of determination to sufficiently study and practice can become a fine artist. Of course art education is a good thing, but personally I prefer to teach myself. Whenever I walk outside I automatically study what I see, sometimes consciously, but often subconsciously. When I am sitting in the train I study how reflections and refractions behave, how light falls upon different materials, how shadows diverge into softness, and so on. Reality is all around us and provides the best subject matter there is.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
By trying to keep reinventing myself, experimenting with different styles, trying not to be afraid to keep learning new techniques, to let yourself be inspired again and again, by old and by new talent. Sooner or later I often become bored when I try to stick to a certain style, so variation is the magic word that keeps me going.

What are some of your current projects?
I am currently designing a number of lion characters to function as a moneybox for customers of the Dutch Postbank. Furthermore I create a number of monthly illustrations for several magazines, such as Esquire, SQ [Society Quarterly] Magazine and the Dutch ‘ComputerTotaal’ magazine by IDG Communications.

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
I am very proud of the animated children's series TattleToons, which I co-created. Back in 2000 the series pioneered in the field of interactive television, utilizing an online chatbox where children discussed how the story should continue. The next day we animated the best ideas that came out of the chatbox and once a week the result was shown on national television. The project was well-received by the international press and even became covered in Time Magazine (March 2001). You can find some of my TattleToons character animation tests over here: (click on the thumbnail with the ladybug character and the one with the mouth that is wide open).

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you
have yet to try?
Well, lately I am rediscovering traditional techniques. I used to draw on paper a lot, but when the computer was introduced to my life it became hard to pull myself away from the digital canvas. Nowadays I am developing a certain sense of guilt, convincing myself that I may only call myself a true illustrator if I could also survive with a piece of paper and charcoal. And so a few times a week I turn off the computer and pleasantly get my hands dirty again. I know that one of my art heroes Lorenzo Mattotti dislikes the sterile nature of digital art, because an artist is not really physically connected with his medium anymore.

Any advice to the novice designer / illustrator?
To young artists-to-be I would like to say: don't get discouraged by interviewed artists who proudly emphasize that they have been drawing "as long as I can remember" or "ever since I was able to pick up a pencil". It is never too late to become a great artist. All it takes is interest and determination to study and practice. I liked to draw on paper as a kid, but technically my drawings were crappy and I was not drawing whenever I had the chance. Instead I went outside and played with my friends whenever I had the chance. By the time I really started trying to improve the quality of my visual work I was at least seventeen years old, and it took me no less than three years to finally become a bit satisfied with what I created. So please be patient and don't expect to be a natural born artist, because no-one really is. Even Rembrandt undoubtedly had to practice a lot before he was able to create his masterpieces.

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
In one word: love. If you succeed to really love what you're creating, the result will eternally radiate the love that has once gone into it. I once saw a photograph by the famous old black and white photographer Isis. It portrays a little girl that was sitting on a wooden horse in an old carrousel. The dreamy glance in her eyes radiates such a perfect happiness that the photo really touched a sensitive chord when I experienced it. The photographer had definitely succeeded to capture the little girl with a love that had become part of the image. Even only thinking of the photo already gives me goosebumps again.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
It's in my nature to feel the urge to create. If I don't create for a while my happiness starts to fade away. Creating keeps me alive and happy, it keeps me going like a neverending fuel source. All I have to do is to give in to the urge, although of course not everything I create is satisfying. But if I don't create I will definitely not be satisfied, so essentially I am a slave of art, but a happy slave.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
Well, it may sound boring, but I am actually mainly a news and current affairs programmes aficionado. Most other television programmes quickly bore me because of the passivity of television in general. You just sit down in front of that screen and don't actively participate, as opposed to creating in front of your monitor screen. But there are a few exceptions. My wife is currently addicted to two television series: Lost and Desperate Housewives, and I have to admit that the series are top-notch entertainment. So to finally concretely answer your question: personally I think that Lost is the best thing on prime-time tv right now, at least in the Netherlands.

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Handbound said...

Beautiful work! Thank you for sharing your work. It's fresh and inspired. I enjoyed reading your thoughtful and considered answers to the questions. It's especially nice to read comments from another part of the world which I know virtually nothing about.

Metin Seven said...

Thank you very much for your compliments. Much appreciated.

All the best,


chris said...

Great interview Metin and an informative read (as usual)!

I am one of those artists who started to draw as soon as I poped out of the chute, but I am not famous so I guess that makes it alright ;)

The absolute best part of the interview for me was your discussion about the 'love in a project'. I have always thought of it as a kind of drive but never looked at it from this perspective.

Thanks to your words I feel I have taken away something of fundimental importance from this article and will value it always.

Greetzz Chris

Metin Seven said...

Wow Chris, I am really flattered by your comment. Thanks a lot. Much appreciated!



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