A little background information before the actual story:
I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. My father was a French teacher and accountant; my mother was a housewife until father's passing when I was 6 years old, and afterwards mother had to work to be able to take care of me. My older brother was going to the university in Israel and my older sister was already married with children. They're 16 and 18 years older than me, respectively. I was what they call an 'accident'.
My first recollection of being impressed by graphic design - without knowing what it meant yet - were vynl and cassette tape cover art in the 80s, when I was about 9 or 10. My father had a collection of mostly classical music records, and my brother introduced me to pop music - he used to bring me cassette tapes of artists and bands that I might like.
The first two cassette tapes I purchased with my allowance were 'You Can Dance' by Madonna, and 'Bad' by Michael Jackson. I was obsessed with the graffiti on the cover of 'Bad' so much that I was mimicing it all over my school notebooks whenever my mind wandered.
Next thing I know, I began making mix tapes, and creating their cover art by hand, and gifting them to my close friends. Eventually the word got out and other kids in school were asking me to make some for them, and it turned into a tiny business.
In 1990, I visited my brother who had moved to the U.S. after getting married in Israel. He had a personal computer at his house in Brooklyn, and I was too excited to discover 'fonts' and cassette tape cover templates! Now my mix tapes would have computer-designed cover art! Ah, I remember the joy like it was yesterday.
A year or two before my visit, my brother had gifted me a Ricoh film camera. This visit was also my first chance at photography, and I began shooting everything I saw. The Twin Towers, Sam Goody's, Toys R Us, limousines on the streets, even the gay pride parade!
My passion for graphic design and photography was fired up.
At the end of high school, I considered getting into a graphic arts school, but our counselor suggested that it could be too hard to get into, and that I should pursue the next thing I was good at: English. So I applied for American Culture & Literature, and I got accepted. While I love Walt Whitman and the Leaves of Grass, turned out it wasn't my passion.
I had to get into graphic design, so I found a private college where I learned to use a Mac, Photoshop, Macromedia Freehand, and QuarkXPress. At the end, I was offered a teaching position, which I kindly had to reject, since I had plans to come and conquer the United States of America, where my favorite pop artists and TV show heroes were from.
And I came. And I conquered.