Monday, July 15, 2024

I Normalized With My Art



Dear Merve; “Where do you get your inspiration?”

Yes, yes, I will finally be explaining this. I am sure most of us think about their characters as several people, or I am the only one… Not sure never talked about this with anyone, well I did but only to eliminate the possibility of multiple personality disorder. I can assure you I don’t have that.

Over the years, pretty much in every interview, I have been asking “Where do you get your inspiration?” Or “What inspires you?”

The answer is “I DON’T KNOW”. It is from everything or sometimes nothing. Yes, I do use details from architectural designs, nature, etc. but I am inspired by my mental status. I reflect emotions through my hats. They are not always as romantic or just pretty as you think. There is a story behind every piece.

The hat that made me famous back in Turkey was me, telling a story about how I hide my colors and always cover who I am funny enough though even when I was trying to hide it, I was extreme.

Most of my friends love hanging out with me because I only hang out if I am high and upbeat, I then pull into my shell which confuses them. Am I an introvert or an extrovert? I am both.

In one of my humanities classes I took in university, our professor asked us; “what is normal?” and after several unsatisfying answers, she went on to explain how as humans we/societies have created the concept of “normal” therefore normal is different for each person as well as, culture, period and more. So normal changes according to when, where, what, how, and who kind of situation. Everybody’s norm is different from the others.

Through this argument I have always believed and loudly declared that I am normal, it is the rest of the world that has issues. For me, as long as you are not limiting other people’s freedom by your acts or danger to yourself or others, as my brother says, whatever floats your boat can be your norm.

Given all that in my late teens I have been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder & Dyscalculia (Dyscalculia is a term used to describe specific learning disabilities that affect a person’s ability to understand, learn, and perform math and number-based operations – child mind institute). So basically, I do not understand your silly numbers, however, my 3-dimensional thinking which technically involves numbers is amazing without using numbers. Also, I live all the emotions to every possible deep end and it changes not just according to my environment but also according to the chemicals in my brain. Well, that is as simple as I can explain it and I don’t think you will be needing more medical detail on this.

I have dealt with this probably since I was around 14-15 though I got my diagnosis later. Even though it took me years to accept it and start sharing this information with people I love, it all made sense. Why nobody understood how I felt, why I was having difficulty regulating my emotions, why I had to spend more than half of my life to accommodate others to make sure they did not feel uncomfortable and I fit in the norm.

I have never fit in the norm, never, and nowhere I have lived. Though when I finally became a known designer I could hear a sound of relief in people’s voices when explaining to my character “Oh she is a designer” which gave me the right to act, dress and do as I want, There was a category for me apparently within the societies I have lived called “artist” which permitted you to be “eccentric” within the norms of the society you are living in.

Funny enough the more I got into my art the more normal “in my opinion “I became. I started practicing controlled environments which means you have to go through quite a process to be part of my close circle, also from eating to exercising everything needs to be planned which gives structure to my life. I managed to do that because I found a way to throw myself into my designs no matter what I have been feeling.

This all being said I have to add that there are different types of Bipolar and different levels so this is how it is for me. Please do not compare yourself or anyone else to my experience.

Recently with the event of the flood in my workshop, topped up with a change of living space, the earthquake in Turkey, and the series of other things with no outlet due to the first event, I have sort of found a new level in my bipolar. Drum roll, please…. Rapid Bipolar. Fun, I am telling you it is fun. So, this is when you have extreme emotions from one end to another in very short periods. Like mine was within a day kind of a rollercoaster. It takes a moment to accept it and ask for help. After almost 5 months of battle which occasionally was very scary, I asked for help, updated my medication, and now I am trying to put my life back in order. 

There are a few things in my life that is very important to me; my mother, my art, my late dog, my brother, and my nephews. Though there are people I love and care for the only person I trust and depend on is my mother and the only thing that keeps me a saint is my art. Well, maybe my nephews occasionally I will give them a bit of credit here because they are very good at pulling me out of a depressive state. My late dog was amazing at it too. He knew what was going on and acted accordingly. Sometimes we were going nuts, and sometimes he was just sticking with me making sure I was all right, and intervening when needed.

And one of my happy places other than my work in Italy, thanks to my brother living there, I got to visit pretty often and it sort of became my sanctuary, which I spent the last week in.

I have two nephews ages 4 & 5; I call them monsters. They are the cutest monsters on earth but with the level of bruises I have right now, I have every right to call them whatever I want. However, they understand me better than anyone else, I believe all kids do as they have not started to construct their norms yet. For them, everything is acceptable as long as they like it. I spent the week with spider man obsession which required a lot of artwork involving spider man. I am now an expert on spider man drawings, cutouts, colors, and kinds (there are way too many different Spiderman believe me I have just learned. Though it was an overwhelming number of spiders and it was inspirational, the colors, the positions, the moves… So here you go there is something there while pulling me out from a very difficult state of mind.

Let’s go back to the designs now. When I start a design over the years, I learned how to construct it by considering other factors like sales, but I also kept who I am in there. If I am sad the hats become more block colors, not necessarily dark colors but more plain color combinations, if I am high and happy, they become more cheerful. Romantic can go both ways.

I use the tools of millinery to express myself while aiming for the happiness of the person wearing them.

There is one rule for all my clients; unless you are %100 about the hat and unless you are feeling happy you do not buy the hat. Very simple but very important for me.

One of my friends once told me if I do something while having negative thoughts it would carry that negativity with it. I don’t believe that I believe we have the power to turn everything into something happy – this being said while this is my principle of belief, I do eliminate some of my hats if I have not managed that by the end of the process.

I don’t take hours sketching and planning. I take months to find elements that will complement my emotions at the time of a collection. I incorporated those elements into my emotions. When I close my eyes, I can see an image that comes from nothing but I see it very clearly, I can also see the story the image tells. So, I make it. When it finishes which usually turns out like exactly what I see I am rid of that nothingness it comes from. The nothingness is not a nothingness it is the mania or depression, I battle with both of them and it is a daily struggle.

Interestingly enough one of my essays in my final year in university was about the correlation between mental health and creativity. Most of the amazing artists in history, from writers to composers to painters have struggled through one form of mental health issue. That does not mean that you have to have a mental condition to be an artist or you have to be an artist if you have a mental condition. However, I do believe the way people with mental issues perceive the world around them is different than others. When I say mental health issues, I don’t mean once-in-a-lifetime depression or an occasional thing. I believe most people deal with mental issues at some point in their lives, I mean those of us who have been living with the mental issue their entire life (I don’t like to call it an illness) which means it is part of who they are.

I think art is the best form of therapy for anyone, especially for people who have difficulty expressing themselves. My hats are accepted more than I do. I always have an excuse which is I have to work but it does not work it is I getting rid of whatever I want to get rid of.

If I am happy, the world is the most beautiful place, I am the happiest person on earth, anything is possible and sleepless nights with hyper thoughts ready to party all night, taking risks assuming nothing will happen to me, made my life difficult over the years, now though now I have my hats, I can spend the entire high in my studio creating things. There have been nights I have finished up three hats in a row for a collection. It just made sense.

And then there are bad days where I sit and stare at the work, don’t like most things I do, and it is more difficult to create anything but then there comes a moment and all that comes out as the most contemporary piece that has been worked on for days just to make it right and it usually is a piece I think will not get any attention. Spoiler alert, it usually is the most popular piece of the collection.

So, while I try to explain how my creations come to be and where I get my inspiration, I do not know. I don’t know how to explain it nor do I understand it very well. To be honest I often do not find myself to be very creative or very good at what I do, however, I have been told I am so many times that I just repeated it now.

With all this information, I will tell you that you do not have to be an artist to do any form of art but if you want to keep your mind at ease, I think doing something creative with your hands is always a good idea. Find something you see someone doing and give it a try you might not only enjoy it but find a forever happy place for yourself.

The final note would be not to judge people just because they are different from you. Also, mental health issues “aka illnesses” do not mean scary people, just people with (in my opinion) a different understanding of reality than you do.

Thank you for reading as usual.

I hope to see you soon again.

With better timelines (which we have been hoping for almost 6 months now)

Love you all…


Merve Bayindir

Instagram: mervebayindirofficial

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