HIGHLIGHT: JASON DOGAN

HIGHLIGHT: JASON DOGAN

An amalgamation of color, texture, painterly and whimsy blended until smooth and tasty characterizes Jason Dogan’s (@aziz.ozgur) artwork. No effort is necessary for Jason’s work to stand out and no mood or emotion is ever watered-down in his images. Each piece whispers, screams and shrills a pulsing, emotive undertone that your brain can't help but to engage and attempt to dissect.

One of our greatest joys comes from discovering more about Mextures users and artists in general as both person and creator. Jason granted our wish by taking the time to chat about his life, background, personality, art and inspirations. We pieced it all together here and we hope you’ll take a few minutes to absorb everything he shared!

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My name is Aziz Ozgur Dogan, but my friends call me Jason.  I was born in Turkey and lived their until the age of eight.  My family immigrated to the United States during the winter of 1986.  Moving to a new country with a new language and culture had a great impact on me as a child.  Learning the new culture and language, along with all of the other complications (such as attending an alien school and making new friends) caused me to become introverted. One of the effects of me becoming introverted is that it forced me to question almost everything about myself and the environment I lived in.  I questioned everything from religion to culture. I lived in science, art and comic books.

At an early age, I found Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, and Michelangelo, just to name a few.  Although I had no talent for drawing or painting, looking at a painting from any of the artists named above inspired awe.  Awe in the sense that I would wonder how a person could paint such amazing pieces of art from memory or imagination. 

During my high school years I started reading and writing poetry and short stories (one of my short stories can be found here.  Of all of the amazing American poets, Edgar Allen Poe stood out for me.  His obsession of death and love, and how one is woven intricately to the other intrigued me. It was because of Poe that I almost decided to major in Literature in college.  But at the last moment I decided to major in Computer Science. 

I graduated from college and found a job as the internet bubble of the 1990's burst.  I quickly found it hard to find another job and decided to work with my parents at our family restaurant.  After several years of working with my family I decided to become partners with my sister at her restaurant in Queens, New York City.  Although my degree and what I do now have nothing to do with art or literature, I never lost the passion for either. 

HOW DID YOU FIRST GET IN TO PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN?

I have always loved photography.  I took a black and white photography class in high school and just fell in love with the process.  I think the love for it comes from the notion of capturing a moment of time - whether joy, pain, love or even terror - and then taking steps to reproduce that captured moment of time on a piece of film.  Although the process is very much different these days, the love and the passion for it is not extinguished.  I have owned several Nikon's in the past and currently am using a Nikon D7000.  

As far as design goes, I always wished that I could draw or paint but the artistic gene lottery was unfair to me.  I found that having a vivid imagination was more important than having the talent to produce a concept that was formulated within my mind.  I believe that (and I’m not saying that I am one) what makes an artist a great artist is imagination.  I believe living inside of art, science and comic books as a child and teenager gave me that vivid imagination.  There was a time in which I actually bought canvases, paints and brushes and tried to bring life to the images in my mind, but I gave up after trying for a month or two.   It was very frustrating to imagine one thing and then to try to convey that image or thought on a canvas and failing.

HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYED A ROLE IN YOUR WORK?

I think that social media has changed every aspect of our lives.  It is prodigious to me that an event happening on the other side of the globe, within seconds or minutes, could be seen, heard and even felt on opposite parts of the globe.  Social media, along with the entirety of the web, has made the flow of information instant.  Neurons exploding and producing a thought or an idea can become one of the many forms of art and be shared with the whole world within seconds is fascinating and mind-blowing.   Just think of how stagnant the old ways of introducing your art to the masses were - how cumbersome and static it was compared to the present.  This new method gives opportunity to unknown artists who do not have the proper human connections to pop up and into existence and to compete with other artists who may have the human connections necessary to introduce their art to the masses. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?

I really do not know how to describe my style.  I am not a student of the arts and for me to describe my style would be contradictory and possibly even incorrect in the eyes of those who study art.  What I can say is that I try to imitate the artist that I have had the pleasure of viewing and discovering.  With that in mind I can say that some of my work has strokes of impressionism, surrealism and expressionism.  I find pleasure in finding a photo that depicts an action or a mood and trying to imagine it in color.  Color effects the psychology of how we perceive things in an immense way.  Adding a new color scheme to a photograph will instantly change how we view that image.  For example, adding tones of yellows to an image will portray the illusion of clarity, warmth and optimism.  Yet, if you add tones of red to the same image, it will portray the illusion of youthfulness, boldness and excitement. With these effects in mind, I usually use tones that enhance the mood of the image.

IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU TRY TO COMMUNICATE VIA YOUR WORK? 

It depends on the subject and the random notions that are in my mind.  I try to understand how the original photograph is composed and what it is trying to convey.  If I like the look of a photograph and my feelings on that particular day are dull, I will usually try to enhance the mood of the photograph.  A good example for that situation would be this image:

In the original image, the model has her two hands in front of her face, portraying the idea of praying, or, in my view, trying to hide something deep inside.  I tried to enhance the latter by erasing her face and adding black lines falling from the top of the photograph.  

On other days, I find a photograph that mimics my emotions or ideas.  An example would be this image:

The original photograph is of a woman with her hands wrapped around herself.  In this edit, I was trying to portray the notion of being at peace in your own skin.  Being comfortable with yourself implies that you are at peace with all of the different shades of your personality.  

WHAT DOES YOUR EDITING PROCESS GENERALLY LOOK LIKE?

For me, it starts with how I feel or what kind of a mood I am in.  I then generally look for an image that kind of portrays my current mood.  After finding the image, the first thing I do is play around with it in Mextures.  I love opening the image in Mextures and trying out one of my own formulas or the wide variety of guest formulas.  It is amazing how different formulas effect the feel or even the message of the image.  

After finding a suitable formula, I then think about what kind of effect or effects I would like to apply to the image.  Every editor has their favorite mobile applications and these are some of mine: Leonardo (a simple and great editing application), iColorama (Great for painterly and other effects), LensLight (Great for light effects), and Glitche (Great for data sorting and various effects).  

After applying effects, I usually go back into Mextures again and try to enhance the color scheme. 

For a colorful and vibrant look, I usually go with one of my formulas such as Clouded Red (UDHYSBW), Red (LTVWZJJ), Vader (AGAQYZD), Reddish Hue (LIXVTZF).

For a neutral look I use one of these formulas: Tints of Green (XHFJLGZ), Faceless (KUWTQRE) and Lion (JGEPCIG).  

For a more dark and somber feel, I use one of these: Gray Tones (QZXHLEY), Starry Face (HCCPHQM), Twisted Darkness (FVQECXQ), and Skull(ASCRJPM).

So, for me, the editing process involves five steps:

1.  Choose the image.

2.  Change or keep the feel of the image by changing the color scheme in Mextures.

3.  Apply effect or edit image by using mobile editing applications.

4.  See if other Mextures formulas enhance the feel of the image.

5.  Quality check and upload to Instagram.

HOW SPECIFICALLY DO YOU USE MEXTURES IN THAT PROCESS?

I use Mextures to enhance the atmosphere of a given image.  As I stated before, color plays a big part in this.  I use Mextures to add color; bright colors for an energetic and joyful atmosphere and dark colors for an gloomy, mysterious atmosphere.  Sometimes adding color is not sufficient and one must also think about textures, shadows and light leaks.  

Mextures is an amazing application with tons of presets and formulas that enable a person to achieve amazing results.  Another reason why I love Mextures is for the fact that it is so simple.  One does not need to know a desktop application, such as Photoshop, to achieve amazing results.  

DO YOU FEEL LIKE MEXTURES OFFERS ANYTHING UNIQUE TO YOUR EDITING PROCESS?

Filters, filters and filters.  I have had the pleasure of using several photo editing applications, but Mextures is my favorite.  I  think that Mextures has some of the best preset and guest formulas.  One of the main reasons why I love using Mextures is everything that I have edited with Mextures just comes out more crisp and vibrant.

Putting aside how the application functions and aides in the editing process, what is more important to me is the community.  Mextures has a very large community which sometimes indirectly effects the process. There have been several times that I have used formulas featured by the Mextures Collective and there have been several times where a concept comes to being by just viewing the amazing pieces of work featured on the Mextures and Mextures Collective accounts.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT MAKES A PIECE MEMORABLE?

I believe a piece has to evoke a thought, a feeling or a memory in the viewer to be memorable.  For example, it needs to bring forth a childhood memory that is composed of joy, grief or even confusion.  It needs to bring forth how a loved one was perceived within a certain ray of light or the irregularities of his or her facial expressions.  To elaborate even further, a memorable work of art for me is The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh.  It is memorable to me because it conjures my childhood and my wonder and awe of the stars.  It brings forth the presence of my past memories where I stood alone at night and marveled at the night stars and pondered on how other children in other places were doing the same thing as I was at that moment of time.  In my view, a piece, in one form or another, must be personal for the viewer to be memorable.  

Of course one can argue that other elements also make a piece memorable, but when we simplify it to the basic principles, every artist tries to capture the "essence" of a moment of time or a feeling or a thought through their lens of reality.  At the end, the "essence" they are trying to capture and portray must relate and unravel within the conscious or unconscious mind of the viewer. 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PIECE TO CREATE SO FAR?

Choosing a particular piece is always difficult because each piece holds its own value and merit, but if I had to choose a single piece it would be one of the pieces from my "Falling" series.  The series is composed of 3 pieces and each piece is tantamount of the emotion I am trying to portray.  It is the dizzying emotion of despair and loneliness wrapped in helplessness.  It is the sensation of a sharp pain in the pit of your empty stomach, the irregular heartbeats as loneliness settles in the dead of night, and the dark thoughts that slither into the mind during placid moments of detachment. 

WHY IS CREATING IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Creating and being creative is in our nature.  Some are endowed with the ability to express that creativity through the arts and some are endowed without it.  For me, being creative is, in a sense, a form of meditation.  I believe the act of being creative - focusing ones intellect along with his or her imagination - produces the same effects as any form of meditation.  Optimism, relaxation and awareness are all byproducts of meditation.  These traits rise from meditation due to how one, in meditation, focuses his or he mind on clarity and stillness.  I believe an artist of every genre, when he or she is in that creative process, experiences this clarity and stillness thus producing similar byproducts of meditation.  

WHAT LESSON OR EXPERIENCE HAS LED YOU TO PROGRESS THE MOST IN YOUR WORK AND STYLE?

I believe a person should refuse to be one dimensional.  Being one dimensional restricts the human intellect and imagination to a predefined outcome.  In order to create great works of art, whether classical art, music, poetry, dance, or even the culinary arts, one must shatter with imagination and trial and error the walls of “being one dimensional”.  I believe that is the best lesson I have learned in my editing journey and also in life.

COULD YOU SHARE A FEW OF THE MOST INSPIRING ACCOUNTS YOU FOLLOW?

There are so many amazing artists on Instagram.  These are some of my favorite accounts that I follow.  In no particular order:

@januzmiralles - The main reason why I love this account is because of her work.  And her method, simply put, appeals to me. 

@bcphillips - His simple approach to editing is stunning. 

@bokiiw - I have just recently started following @bokiiw and I love his imagination.

@abraham__yhaell - I love his black and white images and his way of adding only a couple of elements to make the image stunning. 

@jarek_kubicki - Another great artist whose style just appeals to my taste. 

@adesantora - A true artist of the mobile application sector.  I am amazed by his works of art created by just using an iPhone and iPhone applications.  

@oskadesign - I love his futuristic style of editing.  

@merekdavis - Although he rarely posts his edits these days, I love his earlier work which is full of color and imagination.

@eleathar - His blending and use of color are always a pleasure to view and admire. 

You’ll want to tune in to more of Jason’s images right here!