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Interview: Artist Quits Day Job to Pursue Passion for Beautifully Quilled Paper Art

Istanbul-based Turkish artist Sena Runa left her job as an HR Specialist earlier this year to pursue her passion for paper quilling as a full-time job. “I began quilling three years ago,” she told us in an email. “While I was searching the internet for inspiration to find the right hobby for me, I found a colourful picture that was made from paper using the quilling technique, but I had no idea what it was called. I tried to make it (I had colored papers from my earlier hobby: origami), but it turned out awful! After exploring many quilled creations online, I soon found my own style.”

Now, Runa quills paper to creatively express the inspiring world around her. “Everything inspires me,” she admits. “When I see a photo on Instagram, or a contest on a website or a magazine, anything you could imagine inspires me. For example, while I was drinking my coffee the other day, I asked myself ‘Why don't you make a coffee cup or something like that?' and I made a small Frappuccino cup that same day :)”

Each swirling sliver of colorful paper adds shape and life to her bright and uplifting compositions.  For more of Runa's playful creations, you can follow her on Instagram or even purchase your own quilled craft through her Etsy shop.

Scroll down to read our full interview with Sena.

Can you tell us a bit about your process?

After I decide on the image, I draw a template, then I decide which colors I am going to use. After this, everything is spontaneous (details within the papers, I mean). The creative process for each item changes, so I can say that preparing one piece takes approximately a day to complete, and this is for the designs which I've made before. Creating a new design usually takes longer.

Heart shapes are almost everywhere in your work. What draws you to this motif?

I make a lot of hearts because people love the details in them, and it is one of the first artworks that I created. Also, it is a great way to say “I love you!”

Your captions on Instagram often involve song lyrics. How would you say music plays a role in your work?

Music is an inseparable part of my life. While I am creating an artwork, I listen to music. I am sure everyone has a memory with these songs in their life. The song “Love Is All Around” [by The Troggs] is my favourite song since I was 13 🙂

What advice do you have for someone interested in quilling or anyone that might be too scared to pursue a career in art?

I'd advise them to follow their imagination. There they can find originality. If they try to copy others' works, that will limit their works. And they should have the passion for it, they should keep creating even if they're tired or it's 6 am in the morning.

Everything you create could be art, so if you believe that you make beautiful things, then you'll see that everyone will agree. I am new in the art career (I've been a full-time working artist for 7 months), sometimes I feel scared and sometimes I don't. I just believe in what I do and I know I'll continue to create in the future.

Sena Runa: Instagram | Facebook | Etsy

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Sena Runa.


Pinar Noorata is the Managing Editor at My Modern Met. She is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is an alumni of the Center for Arts Education’s Career Development Program in NYC. She has worked at major TV, film, and publishing companies as well as other independent media businesses. When she isn’t writing, editing, or creating videos herself, Pinar enjoys watching movies, reading, crafting, drawing, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
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