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Craft With Conscience: Defne Güntürkün

Craft With Conscience

'Craft With Conscience' began in early 2016 as a weekly Instagram series dedicated to sharing the work of other creatives and as a platform to openly discuss certain aspects of ethical art-making and consuming in the age of the internet and social media.  

This series arose out of my own frustrations related to seeing my work constantly copied stitch-for-stitch, sold without permission, and credited to other people.  Rather than wallowing in unproductive negative emotions, I wanted to find a way to bring this common issue to light in a positive way.  My solution was to share the work of artists, crafters, designers, and makers who I greatly admire for their originality and dedication. Initially, I shared work similar in materials or subject matter to my own, having heard the argument, "There are only so many ways to stitch plants, I'm not copying you..." one too many times.  The truth is, no matter what the medium or subject, every artist from hobby crafter to professional painter has their own perspective and voice. It takes effort to develop one's visual vocabulary and it can be disheartening when your's is taken and misused by other individuals and sometimes larger companies.

All that being said, now is an incredible time for working artists because of the vast resources of the internet including sources of inspiration, the ability to reach a large and global audience, and as a community building tool. As you may know, I love sharing my work on Instagram and following other makers. It's a wonderful way to connect with other artists, be inspired, and feel supported, but we all need to be aware of how we use these resources and what effect it may have on others.

Since the start of 2016, 'Craft With Conscience' has grown and evolved just like any other creative pursuit and has recently expanded to include short interviews with featured artists. I've asked participating artists a series of questions about their studio process, sources of inspiration, and how image-sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest influence and affect them. I hope you read on to see what they have to say!

Craft With Conscience: Defne Güntürkün

Sarah Benning

Defne Güntürkün // Textile Designer and Embroidery Artist // Istanbul, Turkey

 Defne Güntürkün is a textile design professional. She received her bachelor's and master of arts degrees at Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts in Istanbul. Aside from her professional activities in designing fabric patterns as a freelancer, she has taught herself how to embroider in the past few years. This led to a leap forward in her pursuit of art and creation. Her long–term practical experience in mostly nature–inspired fabric design is reflected in her embroideries. She recently started a small business through her website where she makes her embroideries available for purchase. She has an arts studio in a historic district in downtown Istanbul, where she spends most of her time doing what she loves.

Check out more of her amazing work on her instagram or website.


1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing ones’ own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artist’s lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

The internet is a great tool to be in regular contact with people and reach out to the outside world.

It allows individuals like myself to expose their work to the world and facilitates an effortless way of exchanging ideas. I believe I had a chance to utilize the internet to a very large extent in terms of reaching out to people whom I would have never met in real life and share my work with others.

 For example Instagram has helped me a lot. I share my work with others, get reactions, see what is most liked and it directs people to my shop. I can easily say, I built my small business through it. It allowed me to open an online shop which I think is more effective than a physical shop, this way I can reach out to a bigger audience.


2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?
 My inspiration does not arise from a single source. I am greatly inspired by the environment that I am interacting with. Nature is an unlimited origin of inspiration which is manifested in my work.

Since I have been designing fabric patterns for over 15 years, I have a comprehensive knowledge dealing with color combinations, exploring different kinds of plants, objects, etc., and illustrating them has been helping me a lot with my embroideries. So I think jumping in  between designing patterns and making embroideries is a natural inspiration.

 Most of the time an idea pops up in my mind and I am eager to start exploring it. I sketch very rarely, usually I draw on the fabric right away and see where it takes me. At this point if I need to, I use photos I have taken or searched through internet, such as details of a plant, proportions, etc. One of the things I am paying attention to when I start a new project is that it needs to be unique.

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3. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?
When you publish an art piece online, you kind of take the risk for it to be open to public which you cannot follow where it ends up. You can not control whether it will be used without your permission or copied but we all know that there must be a limit to “inspiration”. It is ok to be inspired until a certain extent but when it becomes a direct copy (mostly a sloppy one), that is the place to stop.

 I have been seeing similar works to mine or partially copied works. Although I have chosen not to confront those cases until recently, I found out that two people made exact copies of my work, not just one, but many, strangely on the same day.  My instant reaction was reaching out to those people and asking them to remove the work from all social media. They were even selling the copies and seemed to be proud of coming up with a great idea. I have to admit that it made me angry. So I asked them in a polite way and in the end made sure that they know, if they do not remove the work and keep making new ones, I would take a legal action. 

 How I found out was with the help of great people that notified me. Feeling this support of others is way stronger than the disappointment of my work being infringed.  I receive messages from people when they see a copy of my work, or a post sharing my photo without crediting me, there are other very nice people who makes me feel that I am not alone and there are others also looking out for me.

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 4. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

My main advice is to be original. I believe everyone has their own style but sometimes they may be scared to discover it. It may pretend to be easier to look like someone else who has been already successful but it will be a lot more satisfying to create your own unique work and see people appreciate it. This needs a lot of practice and patience but the result is worth it.

 Capturing a good image of your work is as important as the quality of your work if your audience is online. I sometimes see a great artwork but a terrible photo of it, which makes me think that you should definitely pay attention to taking good quality photos of your work.

 About selling your work, I know it is a tough one! Most of the talented artists I know do a great job in art but are bad at marketing. I know it is the nature of being an artist, it is hard to put a price on one's work and deal with the technical parts of marketing your work.  I opened my website a couple of months ago and in the beginning it seemed like too much work that I did not want to deal with. I ignored my fear and went for it, so you can do it too.

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5. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

I am surrounded by artists and it is a great feeling. My husband Benoit Hamet is an illustrator , my best friend and studio partner Gözde Başkent  is a painter. So we share the same studio and they inspire me everyday. We always exchange ideas.

There are so many people I really love to follow and appreciate, just will put some of them here;

Embroidery artists; Danielle Clough,  İrem Yazıcı, Tessa Perlow,  Chloe Giordano , Adam Pritchett

Weawing and embroidery artist Judit Just

Illustrators  Georgina Taylor , Carolyn Gavin , Polina Bright

Fiber artist Dani Ives, Justyna Wolodkiewicz, Liz Payne

Artists Tara Galuska , Yellena James  

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