Ümmühan Kazanç

Art Editor and Writer

Where do you work now?

I currently work as an art editor. I would like to explain briefly the story of how I chose this profession after graduating from Bilkent University’s Archaeology Department. I should note that when I studied at Bilkent in 1992-1996, the name of the department was Archaeology and History of Art.

When I was preparing for the university entrance exams, departments of press and publication were among my top preferences. But I liked archaeology as well. Archaeology placed right after press and publication departments in my list of choices. Kismet brought me to Bilkent University’s Archaeology and History of Art department. I learned a lot, and I also learned you don’t need to study in a press department in order to work in press and publications.

After graduating in 1996, I arrived in Istanbul, suitcase in hand, to look for work. On my second day in the city, I saw the following announcement in a human resources newspaper: "Looking for a History of Art graduate with English skills." I couldn’t help but feel they knew I had just come to Istanbul! The next day, I found myself at the Antik Palace, the magnificent yellow mansion that serves as the company headquarters of Antik A.Ş., the firm that had placed the ad, for an interview with Turgay Artam. I was still shaking when Turgay Bey told me that I was accepted and could start work at once. Imagine, my first job interview, and it had ended with the sentence,"You’re hired"! Fulfilling my desire to integrate my interests in art and press and publications, I began work as an assistant editor for Antik Dekor magazine.

Dozens of interviews, articles, and news briefs I wrote concerning Mehmet Güleryüz, Ahmet Yeşil, Komet, Özdemir Altan, İpek Duben, Hale Tenger, Azade Köker, Canan Tolon, Erdağ Aksel, Balkan Naci İslimyeli, Hasan Bülent Kahraman, Ahmet Elhan, Arif Suyabatmaz, Ali Tayar, Eren Yorulmazer, Defne Koz, Memduh Kuzay, Habip Aydoğdu, Nimet Demirbağ Sanlıman, Tayfur Sanlıman and numerous others were printed in the magazines I worked for.

I met a completely new world when I worked from 1997 to 2000 for Banyo+Muftak, Mobilya+Tekstil, and Ofis+İletişim, magazines of Boyut Publishing Group. In 2000-2001, I had the opportunity to explore contemporary art trends in Europe while I was studying for my MA in Media and Art in England. My horizon broadened further in 2008 when I started to work for Cordis Group’s Jetlife magazine. What enabled me to step up to a higher level in my art editing career was my return to Antik A.Ş. to publish the Encyclopedia of Turkish Painters. This project that we began under the leadership of Prof. Ahmet Kamil Gören in 2008 has given me a deeper understanding of both the art world and the book editorship business. The project is unfortunately not yet finished, but seeing it completed is my biggest wish.

I joined the ranks of authors of books thanks to Geçmişten Günümüze Yelpaze, a detailed examination of Nurcan Artam’s collection of antique fans. In the meantime, Artam Global Art & Design Magazine was struggling to be born. I worked together with the magazine’s team, and we eventually achieved our goal, publishing a completely Turkish magazine of modern and contemporary art, not simply a copy of a foreign model. In September, 2009, I had the satisfaction of seeing the first issue. After the publication of the 22nd issue, I decided to start work as a freelancer. Since 2013 I have used my blog and facebook page to share news, articles, and short reports. This endeavor has enabled me to adapt myself every day to the ever-changing world and share my work through social media. Furthermore, my articles, research and reports continue to be published in such magazines as Istanbul ArtNews, ArtUnlimited and Anadolu Jet.

Have you ever engaged in any other profession?

Apart from editing and writing about art I worked for a short time as the manager of the Bozlu Art Project Gallery.

What made you choose this profession (or these professions)?

Because my biggest passion is writing about art, archaeology, and related research, I chose the profession of art editing and authorship as a way of combining all these areas. In addition, it’s a great pleasure to work in a field in which traveling, reading books, taking photographs, and visiting museums, galleries, and art fairs contribute to both professional and personal development. In other words, I’m lucky to be able to combine my hobbies with my profession.

How has your experience in the Archaeology Department contributed to your professional life?

I had the good fortune to study with excellent professors in the Archaeology Department. Marie-Henriette Gates, Charles Gates, and Alessandra Ricci are among the ones I recall instantly. The significance of scientific research, analytical thinking, putting theory into practice in field surveys, taking part in excavations, and travels to various archaeological sites of the country enabled me to acquire an invaluable approach to work. You should first acquire basic information about a subject, read about it in a variety of scientific sources, and apply this knowledge to specific situations, testing it through experience. You are then ready to prepare a report about what you have learned. For art editorship, too, the same method applies.

What are the best features of the Archaeology Department?

Education in English has proved an important advantage in my life. Moreover, the archaeological approach to thinking, research, and system of recording, with its respect for scientific data and differing viewpoints, has been a guide throughout my professional career as I wrote my own articles and reports. I must emphasize that I feel particularly indebted to our teachers because of their insistence that we prepare our homework and research papers with utmost care paid to technical details such as quotation issues, bibliography, and footnotes. Thanks to this, I have been able to produce articles and books that are nearly flawless in terms of their technical aspects.

What do you recommend to high-school students who consider studying archaeology?

Being an archaeologist is one of the most enjoyable professions in life. If I were reborn, I would study archaeology again. Turkey is the world’s largest open air museum. There are numerous archaeological sites waiting to be unearthed in our country. That being said, studying archaeology requires a lot of concessions. You are required to work on an excavation in summer while everyone else is enjoying a vacation. To be a good archaeologist requires having a very bright academic career and being well-equipped for the tasks. If you want to devote your life to your profession, archaeology will suit you well.

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