Esra Tasdemir

Graphic Designer

7 years experience

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Esra Tasdemir is a graphic designer and art director based in Toronto. A graduate of the Graphic Design program at OCAD University, her focus is on bringing innovative and bold design solutions to branding and advertising. She is inspired by the authentic story each brand has to tell, spacial design and craft. Esra has done work on the local and global levels - from trendy Toronto restaurants, to international award winning campaigns such as Shot on iPhone.

At what point in your life did you learn about design, and what drew you to it?

Drawing and painting have always been a passion of mine and were the first medium through which I first expressed myself. In high school, I took a photography course and learned the foundational elements of using an analogue film camera, including the process of washing negatives in the dark room. Learning about photography’s principles and history, as well as studying the work of current photographers left a strong impression on me. It taught me that there are countless lenses through which one can look at objects, people, and situations. As a result, I became more observant of my surroundings, and this transitioned into a passion for storytelling. I became increasingly expressive in my painting and photography pieces. I mixed different mediums and objects in often novel and uncommon ways. This marked an important moment, as I became known in my school as an artist. This gave me the confidence to submit my work for local award shows. Thankfully, I won awards from a variety of bodies, including the Ontario Technological Skills Competition and various animation festivals.

My luck continued as my teachers happened to be in the graphic design space as practitioners. With their support and guidance, I became interested in graphic design as a profession. Then and now, I view graphic design to be the optimal medium through which to utilize my entire skill-set and create communicative solutions to design problems.

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Describe your design process.

It is usually driven by the project’s deadline. Often, the design solutions are embedded in the original problem. Some projects take shape organically, and are the ‘golden ones’, so to speak. Others take weeks of experimentation, sketching, trashing and restarting from scratch. My typical process starts with a blank piece of paper. As I do my research, this paper ends up looking like a puzzle or map with written ideas and words. I find that the keeping a written record of your ideas as they develop help immensely in shaping the end product.

Lately I have reflected extensively on my work and process. I think this comes with experience, and is a perpetual and much needed exercise to create projects that are more authentic.

What inspires your work (professional or personal)?

Authenticity. The core of a brand and their cultural values inspire me the most. Words shape my work, I read and write a lot during my design process. It cannot be overstated how much writing can contribute to the creation of original concepts and ideas.

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What’s the boldest thing you’ve ever done in your professional life?

I walked out of a job, literally. Looking back, I’m certain I made the right decision. For a young designer at the time however, it took a great deal of courage to stay true to my values and leave a situation that was not conducive to my personal and professional growth.

What’s the greatest challenge you’ve faced as a female designer.

I have worked with both small and big agencies. From my experience, sexism was more prevalent at the bigger shops. Having to deal with inappropriate comments from the opposite sex has, and will likely continue to be, a challenge. Oftentimes, I’ve felt implicitly pressured to restrain my personality and adopt a more reserved attitude in order to create a comfortable work environment.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in this business?

There is definitely a persistent gap in how male and female creatives are positioned in the industry. It is still a male dominated business. Personally, I feel that women are often not given the opportunities to thrive in leadership roles. Although I realize this comes with experience, I always encourage junior female designers to stand up for themselves. Further, there appears to be more pressure on female creatives to explain/justify their work than their male counterparts. I hope to conduct myself in a manner which encourages my female colleagues to turn the tide on these systemic issues.

What is unique to a women's design experience that no one talks about, but should?

In my opinion, women designers are often more empathetic and intuitive.

What was your educational experience like?

I studied graphic design at OCAD. My classes were small and I genuinely enjoyed them, from type design to print making, and art history to advertising.

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If you weren’t a designer, what career would you pursue?

I think I would enjoy theatre/acting.

Name a fear or professional challenge that keeps you up at night?

Deadlines, naturally. In addition, the fear of repeating myself. That is what I am most vigilant about. I strive to stay fresh by researching, learning, and constantly expanding my library to offer more, do better, and inspire others.

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