#006 — Dilruba Tayfun

Gatherer of Twigs, Giver of Figs

Interviewed by
#006 Dilruba Tayfun

Charlotte Simons

Published on

April 14, 2024

Fine artist Dilruba Tayfun, sitting next to her art. Dilruba is most known for her mark paintings made with natural materials.
Photo by Anne Posthuma

Hello Dilruba! I’m looking forward to introducing you to our audience.
Could you introduce yourself?

My name is pronounced Deel-roo-baaah. Some prefer to call me Dilly. I’m an artist and designer based in Amsterdam. After four years working as a graphic designer at TomTom and double timing trying to work on my personal projects, I made the leap to just commit to my studio practice. I'm a gatherer of twigs, a giver of figs and just trying to tread lightly moving through all the feels on this living planet. I crossed paths with you and Leo at THU Main Event 2022.

I attended your Togather-walk at THU 2022.
We walked through various landscapes and collected materials, which was so fun! The walk gave me tons of creative energy.

How did Togather come to be, and what type of reactions from attendees have you received over the years that gave you energy?

Preset or digital brushes for use on Photoshop made by others wasn’t doing it for me as a creative. Gathered twigs and seeds dipped in ink and the expressions and textures they were creating on paper however were unpredictable, fun and filling my sketchbooks and bleeding into almost every drawing project of mine for years. I started to envision a platform where creatives could create and share their digital brushes inspired by our physical living planet, the marks we can create with abundant natural objects.

Togather photoshop and procreate brushes. Brushes are made with natural objects such as twigs, leaves and fuzzballs. Togather is an platform founded by Dilruba Tayfun.
Togather Procreate Brushes

I submitted the idea to THU's Sony Talent League first edition in 2021. When it was a finalist project I teamed up with my best friends, designer and strategist Marie-Claire Springham, filmmaker Ari Snow, and also invited artist designer Ruben de Haas onboard.

Through THU we had awe-inspiring mentors onboard across the film and tech industry, including Kris Pearn and Kevin Young and the very caring and generous community of the THU tribe giving input and using the brushes, going out an gathering twigs! We put together a prototype website and a first brush pack and tutorial, which became STL’s first Grand Winner. Some of the friends I made in the tribe still use the brushes. Writer and designer friends use them regularly. It’s exciting to see the brushes stick.

I was amazed at the turnout (we had like 50 people!) and loved leading the Togather walk during THU 22.
I organised some workshops after that too; all the reactions since are of excitement, curiosity and encouragement words.
It’s refreshing to be reimagining our interactions with our art tools like this, and the green light to keep going full speed ahead.

I still see work my friends in the Tribe and others are putting out using the brushes. You can really recognise some of the brushes. They have character like that. The website where the original library and brushpack was free to download is currently down but I’m hoping not for too long.

Dilruba Tayfun on her Togather Walk workshop for the THU main event 2022.
Photo by Telmo Pinto

I get overwhelmed fairly easily, it’s the many tasks at hand as the project's founder and not losing sight of what matters that’s slowing me down, which I don’t think is a bad thing, but it does give me an itch and an anxiety sometimes, that it’s not quite broken through just yet, become really accessible and visible.
I have a lot of questions moving forward for it’s direction, which is why it is back at just me right now. I care a lot how this would impact and circle back to the environment so I’m not in a massive rush to put out another tech tool into the world.
In the meantime, I had to go back to my artist needs in the middle of all this input, that’s also why I left my full-time position as an in-house graphic designer for the independent location and map tech specialist TomTom. Yes, they are still around.

So it’s been on pause since I submitted it for a trademark last fall right after receiving some illuminating feedback from some of my early STL mentors during the 3 day pitching sessions at THU’s Creators Circle, which was an empowering experience.

Artist Dilruba Tayfun in her studio, painting with a material from the Togather natural brushes set. Dilruba is painting with a natural material and ink.
Photo by Aymeric Strauss

In its aftermath, I had hoped it might pick up more momentum and that I would finetune the presentation some more but before I knew it, it was at a natural, growing some silent roots while laying low and dormant, kind of pause. I’ve made peace with its pace. Since then I haven’t made any new brushes, one or two here and there, and I haven’t organised any workshops since the last one in August last year. My use of the original brushes though, is picking up speed and is very much in motion, in a noticeable way. I create live drawings of all kinds of performances regularly using these brushes on iPhone and iPad, with Procreate. People are really engaging with the live nature of it all, in any place I take it to. The brushes have unbelievably replaced analogue drawing and painting for me while outside.

Outside the studio when I'm not painting, when I step into the world of live events of my friends and beyond, my work has become more and more digital, but in a way where once in print, you can’t really tell they were created, for example on the iPhone, with the tips of my fingers and a brush called Stoney… I forage from jazz gigs and ballet performances, these very raw moments only drawing on the spot and fast seems to be able to capture. Like a sort of live journalism through once living brushes, translated to a digital kind of live, live on live, thanks to what I originally envisioned with Togather.

Digital artwork by artist Dilruba Tayfun. Made on Procreate with Togather natural brushes.
Dorian (Lean In), Digital, 2022 — Dilruba Tayfun

Your approach to art, community and storytelling are remarkable in your work.
What role do these subjects play in your practice?

It’s like, being here briefly on this Earth, in comparison to say a fig tree or an olive tree, we may as well report actively while we’re at it. About these entanglements we’re in; storytelling’s inherent and is the binder I feel which connects us all, quickly, like food. Community is probably the de facto reason why I had the balls to quit my full time job. I’m an artist raised by many communities of people, creatives and non-creatives across different cultures. I also want to give back in everything I do.
It’s the thing that keeps me up at night: was I generous enough? How do we unlock more generosity? Their role is necessary and it’s what grounds my practice actually.  I’d be this fleeting particle looking to travel with SpaceX on the next ship to Mars otherwise.
I see this in you and Leo’s work on Blauw Films too. You love this world we’re in and our community of creatives on the ground too much. I believe that’s what binds you to an open source studio vision too, it's palpable to me.

Togather walk workshop at THU Trojan Horse Main Event 2022 organised by Dilruba Tayfun as part of the THU Sony Talent League
Photo by Telmo Pinto

In your art, you take direct inspiration from the things around you, especially nature. What is this process like for you?

Yes, I’m a gleaner and gatherer foraging my brushes, rollers and stampers and this process is regularly changing actually. But to be clear, I don’t go outside to go out on a forage, it’s not a hunt. It’s more that I leave the studio out of a need to walk and be on my feet and in tune with my surroundings - outside of my head - where too much exploration there can take me dark, paralyzed places. So out exploring away from my mind, paying attention to the real world I make a new friends, sometimes briefly interacting with a natural object, sometimes it’s a keeper, a friend for life. Sometimes you meet a natural object through getting to know a person. That’s how the objects the Reed, the mighty Fuzzball (an endangered species of seagrass) and Datebark came into my life and seem to be staying…

My last art exhibition, curated by my dear friend Katrina Dew Harple, Elaborations was all about my relationships and informal interviews with these objects, how we unlock each others secret demands and needs through movement. Out pours these abstract, organic expressions, improvisation fuelled paintings.  

Artist Dilruba Tayfun and her painting made with natural brushes, for "Elaborations", her 2023 solo Exhibition.
Photo by Arjen Veldt

The direct inspiration comes from this overwhelming impulse that I may not meet or see this species I just stumbled into, ever again. That’s how I end up bringing the analogue back into the studio, as a byproduct of my interactions, admiring what’s abundant and around and not all invoke a need to paint with the object. Perhaps some objects may have more to say…or a story that hasn’t been told yet, or needs revival!

You also travel quite frequently. What does travelling mean to you personally and to your art?

Actually, I don’t travel frequently but having family & friends in Turkey, and in the UK, I’m at least bound to visit these two places at least once a year. Having said that travel has shaped the pace of my interactions, again out of a feeling like I may never be here again because I grew up with expat parents, living in Turkey, Romania, Netherlands and the UK, I never know where the winds may take me next. But I don’t let this airy feeling take over. If anything it helps me tap into community without delay. So I cut to the chase immediately and ask people about their favorite albums, food ingredients for example. The way I interact with people is how I interact with my environment also, nature isn’t a separate, isolated interaction.  

Artist Dilruba Tayfun's exhibition painting with natural materials "Ellaborations", 2023, Amsterdam.
Photo by Arjen Veldt

This might be a difficult question, but I’m very curious to learn: what is your ultimate dream for Togather?

Somewhere between art, tech & science, we as creators can restore and reconnect with our our living planet through the marks we make. How’s the mission sounding?

A northstar image I have is a map you can explore visually on the internet that shows which object was found where and what this looks like when it expresses visually. This would then help you decide whether you want to download/or further explore. For this we need to work on the accessibility of these tutorials so people can easily make their own brushes to upload into the database, also without necessarily hurting the object... I guess also for these objects with stories, some that are even be endangered that speak of a true location on earth to be seen in other projects, to infiltrate the movie scene and art scene, book covers and posters, it would create such amazing conversations and blur the realms of art with science and spirit.

Painting made with Togather natural brushes, by artist Dilruba Tayfun for her first outdoor solo exhibition in Amsterdam.
Photo by Shelsea Doran

If people reading this want to support Togather, where can they do that?

If Togather excites you, you can support it by sharing the works you’re making with the original brushes and saying a bit more about why you’re using them still. What they mean to you. Also please reach out at hi@dilrubatayfun.com if you’re having ideas that align with some of what I’m talking about here.

I realize it’s a lot of thoughts but things do move along differently with collaboration and community. Shared visions. Till soon :)

As a closing question, any life-changing advice for the reader? Good books to read, movies to watch, artists to follow?

Yes, I think we all need to focus on our ingredients, be it food, art, love. Stay true to the ingredients so the flavors come through. Listen to their original sounds. John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. Rumi’s poetry if your spirit is feeling stuck. Rick Rubin’s Tetragrammaton just launched so get on that!

Download the Togather Brushes for Free in our Store for Limited Time!

Artist Dilruba Tayfun, sitting in fron of her black and white painting on lockers, painted with natural brushes from Togather.
Photo by Anne Posthuma
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Dilruba's work