Hakan Hisim, Turkey’s top visionary artist, gained global recognition with his notable works.
Let’s get to know him better. Keep reading.
Tell me about yourself, please.
I was born in 1978 in Istanbul. Since my family moved a lot, I spent my first years in Germany and 15 years in Australia, and I mostly lived in Turkey. I studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts. Also, I have a two-year degree in Cinema and TV education.
What education has contributed to me and my art is minimal. I can’t say that I have learned much from traditional education except to learn some theories and principles. I learned everything I needed on my own. In recent years, I have learned from a wide variety of tutorials and lessons available on the internet. I think traditional education is a money trap, a social structuring (programming) tool, and a system that quickly kills the creativity of a creative person (as we all are).
Painting has always been in my life. I grew up in a creative environment, as my mother was both a fashion designer and a painter. I remember sitting with my mother at a very young age and doing acrylic and oil paintings at home.
My father was one of the first computer engineers. Since my father was highly interested in technology, science fiction, and fantasy worlds, the aesthetic understanding of these cultures influenced me at a young age.
As I grew up, I became interested in FRP and similar fantasy games and the visuals in these games. The critical detail here was that computer games were minimal, while traditional FRP and creativity-inducing games were in the foreground much more. My youth was spent creating different fantasy worlds, different types of life, and different cultures.
When the time came, I finally decided to study painting, for which I returned to Australia for a few years.
“I started creating my psychedelic works in 2006”
In the intervening years, I shot various short films and produced animations and video art. These were not psychedelic but generally darker, grotesque, and absurd works.
As I became increasingly intertwined with the psychedelic culture, my animations began to reflect a more psychedelic style. Years later, this evolution process turned into visual and mapping works I made with materials I produced at psychedelic festivals.
For many years, I have made oil paintings that are far from psychedelic. My paintings in surrealist and magical realism styles were also influenced by abstract movements. I started creating my first real psychedelic work in about 2006. Digital media and oil painting were mixed pictures. Still, I didn’t have the patience and ability to capture the details I wanted with oil paints like the old masters.
In 2010, I made my definitive transition to digital media. For the last 8 years, I have been painting only in digital media.
How did psychedelic art take its place in your life?
My interest in psychedelic art was after my first LSD and then my first DMT experience at different times and places. The first brought an irreversible, expanded perspective to my life and perception; the second turned my life 180 degrees and upside down.
From that moment on, the most important thing for me was to show others what I saw and experienced through art. These were purely experiential factors, of course. Still, the significant sources of inspiration for me were the artworks of Alex Grey and Luke Brown.
Hakan Hisim: “Nature is a great source of inspiration for me”
What inspires you the most while creating, and how would you describe your style?
My inspiration comes from many places. As I mentioned, very strongly from my psychedelic experiences, but also from my lucid dreams, meditations, meditative trance states, astral travels… These are predominantly metaphysical factors.
In physical reality, nature is an excellent source of inspiration for me. Of course, my wonderful family…
I read a lot of books. I have been and continue to be very inspired by works on metaphysical subjects, alchemy, syncretism, astrotheology, Gnosticism, hermetic principles, original religious works, Taoism, cabala, and Sufism. Furthermore, I prefer to read these works from their original sources; I’m not talking about the sources that the distorted “New Age” movement reconstructed in the name of political correctness. These last inspirations are most evident in the Universal Transmissions series.
I’m also inspired by ancient, forgotten, and alternative history, forbidden archaeology, ancient cultures, and clever science fiction that can sometimes be associated with them.
“Classic Goa trance and psy downtempo inspires me”
I listen to a broad spectrum of music, but when I think of my art as inspiration, especially classical Goa trance, quality psychedelic downtempo, classical music, and movie soundtracks.
Besides, I’m interested in cymatics, etymology and astronomy, color theory, and frequency science. I get a lot of inspiration and try to apply and integrate these theories and sciences into my art.
Well… I can’t describe my style. However, I made paintings in this style when I was unaware of the “visionary art” movement. At that time, the closest recipe was “imaginary art,” I called myself. After a while, I found myself in this trend and became labeled a “visionary artist.”
Many of my paintings can be described as visionary art. For now, some of my works, especially the Universal Transmissions series, are “Esoteric Art.”
Cyclical Water Fasting: Eating a single meal a day in the evening
Do you engage in any daily practices or routines that enhance the effectiveness and influence of your work?
I have daily rituals to use time effectively, concentrate, and maintain and fuel my creative mood. Besides, the morning meditation session balances my soul and body&mind complex and saves a few hours during the day.
Spending time in the sun, watching the sunrise and sunset every day, gives me tremendous energy. It adds vitality to my body and mind. Sports, even a little movement, is enough during the day.
Creativity declines in people with low blood and chi circulation. Cyclical Water Fasting, eating a single meal a day in the evening, isn’t consuming even a single calorie other than that. Instead of dealing with difficult processes such as digestion during the day, the body can channel this energy to the places you want.
Moreover, I have recently started Qigong (Chi Kung), which, like other methods I use, gives spiritual, mental, and physical balance, opens my mind, and helps creativity.
Which international festivals have you worked with?
Fullmoon Festival, Odyssee Festival, Mo:Dem, Summer Never Ends, Ozora, Psy-Fi, Rainbow Serpent, Boom, Vortex.
Hakan Hisim: “Organizers should budget also for decor and aesthetics”
How would you assess Turkey’s festival decorations and artists’ work? What steps are necessary for progress?
Turkey is developing rapidly in decor, but we still have a long way to go and obstacles to overcome. One of the most important factors is the lack of a sufficient budget for decor and aesthetics in organizations. I understand the importance of music, but music and visual should have balance.
Some people attend a festival for visual richness and workshops as well as for music. Planning is essential, and it takes a lot of time. In many festivals, when the festival decor is left until the last day, it significantly reduces the event’s visual appeal and impact.
Some do excellent work in this field in Turkey, but these people should have a larger budget and a wider time frame. When there is a disciplined workflow in the decor team, it can lead to great work.
How did you achieve your global success? Is it just being talented enough?
There are several reasons for this. First, a well-established aesthetic and artistic style always shows itself sooner or later. A heavy price must have been paid to achieve this: a minimum of 10 thousand hours of practice and experience, not giving up, and being disciplined. That’s what talent is, actually. Since my mother tongue is English, I can easily express myself internationally. Still, this is a minimal factor because, as I said, real fine art shows itself sooner or later.
Constantly learning, trying, not stopping!
Achieving success starts with continuous and disciplined learning, trying, and not stopping. I gave years to painting and animation until I got to the place I know as “successful.” Therefore, I continued to paint and learn alone, in my closed room, in constant emotional ups and downs, often with no financial gain.
I first gained an audience in Turkey around 2009-2010. Timuçin (TMX Mind) and Mind Manifest Project introduced my art to the psytrance community in Turkey for the first time. In these two years, my work slowly started to be recognized, and get invitations from European festivals.
At this point, I started to see art and creativity in a wider spectrum in Europe and the world. Then I decided. I withdrew from festivals and parties, stayed home, and devoted myself to learning and developing. This was a process of about 3.5 years. I disappeared, closed all my social media accounts, and continued to create my art nonstop.
Towards the end of this process, I took a few pictures and made a music video. Among them, my painting Serpentine Apotheosis (Dancing Shiva) and the Body of Light music video for Entheogenic attracted much attention.
I reopened social media accounts to promote them. Well… The intense interest and viral posts filled me with inspiration, a sense of accomplishment, and the power and excitement to create. For a few more years, I only painted and shared, then I started to participate in festivals again, little by little.
So, being talented is enough to make a name because talent is a trait acquired through experience, repetition, study, and discipline rather than innate.
Where can we follow your work?
Currently, you can follow my work on social media, in virtual reality, and at various festivals in Turkey and around the globe.
So, do you have any new projects?
Even though it’s not counted as a new project, the Universal Transmissions series is a project that I give a lot of love and energy to.
This series is different from my usual painting style, carrying stronger graphic elements and blending data from esoteric sciences and experiences, typography, coding, language, and semiotics with symbols.
I want to focus more on this series soon and create and publish a mystical and symbolic art book on a platform like Kickstarter in the near future.
Apart from that, new artworks are continuously in creation. Collaborations with artists, virtual reality projects, meditation-aid visuals and systems are also underway.