Artist of The Week: Eda Yorulmazoğlu
25-year-old Eda Yorulmazoğlu is one to watch. With a Turkish last name that translates to “one that doesn’t get tired,” Yorulmazoğlu constructs highly-detailed ensembles that force us to question the line between fashion and costume; between reality and another dimension. Through her work, the Chicago-based SAIC graduate transports us far away. Well known in the drag community, her pieces are complex and creaturely. She spoke to us about her most recent projects, and the inspiration behind them, as well as her desire to create an Eda-themed all-ages park, where viewers can tap back into their own childhood innocence and curiosity that we sometimes ignore. Her body of work forces us to step outside of the everyday, and step into her mind, where creativity and imagination are alive and breathing.
How did your upbringing in the suburbs of Chicago affect the art you create today?
I feel like I was somewhat suffocated living in the suburbs, but never really realized that until I left. Although, the friendships I made there definitely shaped who I am today. I’m still super close to my group of school friends and we built an environment where we can express our humor in a very fun and childish way. I feel like they’ve given me the confidence to do what I do today and always kept me grounded.
How is your Turkish culture embedded in your work?
I don’t think aesthetically my work resembles Turkish culture, but possibly the details. In Turkish artwork, from paintings to old heavily embroidered garments, they all have highly complicated and packed organic details. In my work, I love to add as many details as I can, even if they are not as noticeable. I always try to make it as organic as possible to give the effects of growth and decay. I feel like it gives the garment more meaning and uniqueness.
Work ethic-wise, I love that fact that my last name means “One that doesn’t get tired” because that resembles me in so many ways. I feel like my Turkish roots gave me a quality to think quick on my feet, to work really hard and to appreciate what I have. When I go to Turkey for work, I have to totally switch my way of thinking. I recently went to source materials and it’s one of the most stressful things to do because it’s not as easy as going to a fabric store like Jo Ann Fabrics and having everything you need in one place. Each type of fabric and material has its own shop in different parts of town. If I go to someone that sells buckles, they’ll have no idea where to buy buttons, because they’re totally different lines of work. Even the people that live there that I work with were shocked that I was able to find all the materials I needed because it’s really damn hard. Also, there were many sexist men that didn’t believe a girl like me could own a small business, but that only made me stronger and I didn’t hold back to tell them how wrong they were.
I feel like my Turkish roots gave me a quality to think quick on my feet, to work really hard and to appreciate what I have.
How does it differ from your American roots?
My American roots taught me how to be self-disciplined and be very skilled in time management. Although, if I was only to experience America, I don’t think I would be as strong as I am. It’s very easy here compared to other parts of the world to get anything done. Though, it taught me a lot about how to deal with clients, how to present myself as a professional and to be very organized.
Have you ever felt the urge to move to a different city?
I have had urges to leave Chicago, since I’ve been here most my life. Although, it’s not because I’m sick of Chicago, but more from feeling guilty that I’m not experiencing enough or the stereotype that New York and LA is the place to be. I love Chicago, and I truly believe that it is special in a way that those other cities cannot compare. It has a very close-knit, supportive, and vibrant community. It is small enough for small artists to shine and grow, but big enough that the adventures never end. Also, I love that I can rent a place half the cost of a New York apartment but get double the space. Morley because I have to rent a studio space as well. If I moved to New York, I feel like I will have to work out of my bedroom. I love my creatures, but mama needs boundaries :)
How did SAIC enhance your practice as an artist?
SAIC taught me a very good work ethic, even if it wasn’t a healthy one, it got me really good at time management and how to handle intense stress. It also taught me that making garments is just ‘making garments’. In the beginning of my education, I would take critiques very personally and failures very painfully. I think sometime during the end of my Junior year and beginning of Senior year, I just started having a ‘don’t care’ attitude, and created garments that made me happy. I stopped caring if I fit in or impressed others. When I failed, I pushed myself to learn from it and move on stronger. I still get stressed because I am human in the end, but I deal with it and keep going.
Did you ever feel that it stifled your process?
I don’t feel like being at SAIC stifled me much, because all the restrictions it might have thrown at me only pushed me to break the boundaries even more. I basically did what I wanted. I remember we had a project to make a Men’s Jacket to learn traditionally tailoring skills. I didn’t feel like it fit who I was becoming, so that is when I created the ‘ Hug Jacket’ which was the farthest thing from a traditional men’s jacket. From that, I did the most calculated and complicated patterning I had ever done at that point. I always tried to take my education in my own hands, because in the end it’s my money and my future.
You’re driven by excitement and other-worldly ideas, how do you stay in the frame of mind in today’s world?
Honestly, I’m not sure. I make what I like, I don’t pay attention to what’s ‘IN’. I try really hard to tell myself that I’m making my work as a therapeutic outlet for myself, so I don’t get impacted as much if my work stops being relevant. I think the world just needs a break from commercial fashion and when they see my work they can feel that there are more possibilities. I have gotten many loving messages from people thanking me for making my work because it relieved some of their stress, depression, or whatever they were going through. It distracted them from our world. That alone makes me feel accomplished because that is why I make it for myself.
How did you get into creating pieces and costumes for the drag community?
It was a surprise and I never thought I would be able to work with such an amazing community like the drag community. I just didn’t think it was a possibility for me to find a place where I can make the things I want and make a living out of it. It all started when I was invited to be the Designer of the Night at ‘Chapstick Suburb’, a party for Shea Coulee at Berlin Nightclub. There I entered the world of drag and I was blown away. I never saw my work shine as bright as it did in that point in time. Before that, no one really knew where I would fit in with my work, most of the faculty at SAIC thought I would go work at the theater or something like that, but I never wanted to work under someone. That night at Berlin changed my life. After that, queens started to ask to wear my garments to the club and it took off so fast. It’s been almost three years since that party, and so much has changed. I am so lucky to be at the point I am today. It was a lot of hard ass work, and many sleepless nights, but every minute of it was done with gratitude and joy. I am so thankful for the drag community for welcoming me. *Blows Kiss*
I don’t pay attention to what’s ‘IN’.
Tell us about your most recent projects.
I had a big show last summer debuting my collection “ Dew Drops in the Garden”. In less than 4 months I created 15 looks while working on other projects. The collection was meant to be a gift to my aunt (second mother). She was diagnosed with really aggressive, stage 4 colon cancer. Her chance of survival was less than 5% and in less than a year of her diagnosis, she withered away at an alarming rate. I was afraid she would never experience a show of mine because we always talked about her being front row in the future ( she lives in Turkey). It was super stressful because in those 4 months the news kept going back and forth that she doesn’t have enough time left. I couldn’t set the date because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Then a miracle happened, she got approved for a new drug from Tempus. There was only a 2% chance she would get approved and have the drug work, but luckily it did. She came to my show. Each piece was inspired by her because she is one of the most stylish and brightest people I know. Because of her, I pushed myself to design more glam outfits and pushed my comfort zone.
Since then, I decided to focus on my business a bit more, creating and selling products and making some money before I create my next collection! She’s responsible ;)
How far to do you get into the narrative of the costumes/characters you create?
It depends on the project. I’ve written storyboards for some with very distinctive narratives. I’ve written out short biographies for some that discussed the character’s life and traits. Some creatures are more mysterious, and there’s not much known about them. I don’t always like to explain the creature in depth because sometimes it’s more interested to see people’s own interpretation.
Where do you see your artwork going? What would you like the future to hold?
I’m trying to go with the flow and see what happens. I do have bigger future goals though that allow me to keep pushing myself to try new experimental projects. One day I want to build a park that fully resembles my work that can be open to all ages. Once I had this tent I made at an event in the Chicago Loop, so basically a lot of business people came after work. The tent was in the shape of a creature and you have to crawl through the mouth to get in. I didn’t expect to see all these adults rip off their suit jackets and jump into this tent and act like they were kids again. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. I think when we grow up we forget that innocence we had when we were kids, and I want to bring that back for those that might have lost it.
Work aside, who are you? Write down the first things that come to mind:
- First childhood pet: We had a dog, Ibis. My parents got him before I was born, and he was very strangely human like that I thought of him as a brother when I was very little.
- Best vintage store in Chicago: I always love a good Village Discount Outlet.
- Favorite Turkish word, maybe a sentence you can’t quite describe in English: My mom always says I’m her ‘ilk göz ağrım’. Most of life I never directly translated that phrase because I knew the general meaning, it’s a way to tell your first born child that you love them. One day, I did a direct translation and was shocked and couldn’t stop laughing. The next time my mom said that phrase to me I told her, “ You know if you translate that to english it means, ‘You’re my first eye sore’ ”. She never noticed it either and now we joke that I’m just an eyesore. I love this phrase though, and have involved it in my creatures when I create them with puffy eyes.
- Dream collaboration: I want to work with someone that can collaborate with me to build a giant, creature filled playground. I don’t care how famous there are or how many instagram followers they have, just anyone that can help make this happen! I love working with kids and it’s definitely a route I want to focus on.
- Most exciting material to work with: I love foam and silicone!! It’s a nice change of pace from sewing and it makes me feel like a mad scientist.
- Movie of the moment: I recently just watched Coco ( 2017). It was such a well done, beautifully animated movie that created this amazing world that you yearn to be apart of. It resembles what I want to do with my work in the way that I want to create a world for people to runaway to when they need a distraction. Also the plot of the movie is something I deeply connect to and made me think of death in a more positive way, and is a concept I keep in my work as well.
- Book of the moment: I just got the book “ How to Fix a Broken Heart” by Guy Winch, because I’m doing some research on that topic. It talks about how broken hearts aren’t taken as seriously as physical injuries but in fact they can be as painful, as dangerous and should be taken more seriously. They may even take longer to heal and the causes could range from breakups or loss by death.
- What do you like to eat for breakfast: I love a good tofu scramble with LOTS of veggies and a side of HASHBROWNS/ TOTS. On the daily though I like to eat toast with vegan butter and rose jam, cucumbers with olive oil and salt, and strawberries. I like black tea more than coffee.
- Least favorite medium to work in: That’s kinda hard to pick, because I like most the mediums I work with. I think if anything, the most annoying is sewing spandex on my straight stitch machine because the stitches skip all the time, and I can’t use the serger for some of these techniques.
- What’s in your art box: Eyes, fabric manipulations, limbs from dolls, random objects I’ve kept for years.
Creative Producer & Director: Isabelle Myers
Photographer: Alexa Viscius
Designer: Eda Yorulmazoğlu
Model 1: Eva Young
Model 2: Ramona Slick
Model 3: Pangaea
Model 4: Tristan Rehel
Stay tuned to Milk for more out-of-this-world art.