Vitraž Lexicon 07 –  Zilan Berfin Doğan

Be honest, bare and naked with Vitraz Q&A. The 7th episode is with unique tattoo artist from Istanbul Zilan Berfin Doğan.

We are introducing the lexicon section, in which we will be real, bare, and naked. Famous people, followers, acquaintances. Without any differences. It seems that we are becoming increasingly estranged, so we want to do our part to bring us back together through basic human interaction. Through honesty, interests, and recommendations. 

Many spend years together without asking the right questions and really get to know each other. Maybe you’ll read the answers you’re looking for, perhaps someone will be an inspiration, a surprise. Honesty is the most incredible luxury we can afford.

Zilan Berfin Doğan was born in 1997. She is a tattoo and illustration artist. Previously she started studying Business Administration, but soon decided that she would not be happy in that profession and that the department did not reflect her at all. Always interested in drawing and tattooing, she didn’t see the makings of a professional level, until the senior year of university. “The art of tattooing, which I started to perform professionally, became a great passion of mine. As long as this passion is with me; as long as different people in different countries continue to keep me and my art alive while carrying a trace of me; I believe that I have a very long, exciting and successful path ahead of me.”

Your childhood dream, a trait you carried along into adulthood

When I was a child, my dreams were incredibly diverse. I would have a passion for acting one day, performing plays for my family in the living room of our house; and on another day, while watching Bob Ross, I would decide to become a painter. But whatever I dreamed of, I wanted with great desire and passion. 

And this is the best trait I carry with me from those days to today: my passion. 

Three qualities you value the most in others

To be able to listen, to really listen to the other person. 

If I had answered this question a few years ago, this probably wouldn’t have been the first response I would give.

But as I got older, my first expectations from the people I was in contact with started to evolve. Either because I’m getting older or because of the times we’re in now. It feels like a blessing when someone listens to you, tries to understand you, or just listens to what you have to say to make you feel better. This is also the first thing I expect from my friends. And that’s the way I try to be.

I would say the second one is honesty. It may sound cliché the first time I say it. But I think it is very important to give someone the right to know the truth, even if you know they will be hurt, upset or even unable to digest the truth. This is the topic I am most sensitive about in my relationships. Even if it means protecting me, don’t hide the truth from me. 

And the third one, I think, is sincerity. I really admire people who act as they are. I am one of those people who don’t hide their excitement, joy, fear or discontent; who show all their emotions wherever and whenever they are, and whose feelings can be seen on their face. No matter what environment I am in, I behave as I feel like, and honestly, I don’t stay in an environment where I can’t behave in this way. And to tell you the truth, I like people like me.

Three qualities that repulse you the most 

One is definitely sucking up! I think that’s what I can’t stand the most. I really have no tolerance for people who say and behave in a way that they don’t actually think and feel, just to get on someone’s good side, to stand out in some way. You’re making a fool of yourself, please don’t! 🙂

The second one is cowardice. I’m not talking about an instinctive fear, of course. My problem is more with people who don’t face their fears, who don’t make an effort. I don’t know, maybe I should have expressed it as ‘laziness’. But nothing will happen unless you try, so please try to put your fears aside. 

And the third one I’ll say is stinginess. As you may know, Turks are generally known for their hospitality. And indeed they are. From an early age, we are raised in a constant rush to give. In this way, feelings such as making the other person feel good, meeting their needs, being happy with their happiness grow in us. I think this is partly why we are generous; why we find stinginess and stinginess repulsive. Of course, too much of everything is bad. And the compromises we make must be such that they don’t harm us.

Unfulfilled dream

I am part of a very large family. For instance, we are five siblings, I am the youngest. When I was little, none of them lived with us; it was my mom, my dad and me. I would always miss them and want to be near them. But everyone had a falling out with each other. My parents’ siblings were the same way. I would say they were all broken families. So, when I grew up I always wished to be in a really big family, but among people who really love and protect each other. It could also mean creating my own family. I can’t say I’ve come close to achieving that so far. But who knows, maybe someday.

Greatest individual success

I think my greatest individual success is that I have chosen what I am working on. I majored in business administration. However, I did not choose this major by purpose or intention. I always wanted to do something related to art, but my family was not very supportive. So when I was studying at university, I kept thinking about what I was going to do when I was done with school. Somehow I made up my mind to start tattooing and I finally discovered that I was capable of doing it. I still remember the feeling when I got my first tattoo, the excitement and relief of finding the missing piece of my puzzle. And ever since that day, I start every project with real excitement and I feel very lucky to be doing what I love and to have found my own path.

 Which compliment would please you the most, in regards to yourself.

The compliments I get on my designs or tattoos make me incredibly happy. It is incredibly satisfying to produce something, to see and know the pleasant feelings that what you create evokes in someone. It is also a stimulus to do more. 

By the way, I have to admit that compliments on my intelligence usually spoil me as well. 🙂

Favorite song (at the moment, all time…)

I always find it difficult to say what I actually like “the most”. Because I have so many favorite things, songs. But for some reason, the first answer that came to my mind when I saw the question was “Une Belle Histoire”. I think it’s the hopeless romantic in me. 🙂 Whenever I listen to it, it’s like feeling a warm wind. 

The one I listen to most often now is “Sometimes, All the Time” (Loud, Charlotte Cardin).

Favorite book

I will say “Meu Pé de Laranja Lima” because it was the book that made me love reading. But, “The Bell Jar” (Sylvia Plath), “‘As Intermitências da Morte'” (Jose Saramago), “The Dispossessed” (Ursula K. Le Guin) and poetry books by a few Turkish writers (Edip Cansever, Turgut Uyar, Ece Ayhan) are among my bedside books. 

Scenario, scenery, ideal, that you dream about (description if needed)

This was the most difficult question for me. Because when I think of an answer, there are two different scenes and paths that come to my mind. I even sometimes think that there are two separate people within me. One of them really wants to move herself forward in terms of career, to be satisfied with the pleasure of success and advancement; while the other Zilan thinks that the only important thing in this world is love, that nothing should get in the way of loving, being loved, being a family, and when she imagines herself years later, the voices of her children and grandchildren fill her ears and she sits on her porch with great pleasure. My heart’s set on getting both. But life can also compel me to choose only one. Or maybe there is a completely different path ahead of me, I don’t know. I’m waiting for the day when I can fulfill my curiosity. 

What do you fear the most?

I thought about this question a lot. I wondered if I was afraid of the dark, of heights, of spiders, of loneliness. I couldn’t say yes to any of them clearly. I think I’m more afraid of the possibility of being afraid of something. The possibility that a thought, a fear, can put obstacles in the way of what I want, what I am going to do, makes me extremely restless. Sorry that I can’t give you a simple answer.

What do people lack the most?

I think we lack tolerance and patience the most nowadays. Easy accessibility and the excess of options have exhausted people’s patience. If not this, then that. If you don’t, they will. No one has the patience or the time to read and finish a good novel in one sitting, to watch a classic movie in one sitting, to make an effort to maintain a relationship, to work hard for a friendship. That’s a tragedy. 

What do you lack the most?

I think I lack grays the most. I go back and forth between black and white, but I have no room for gray. Again, I think it has something to do with my upbringing and my character. And I’m trying to change. Life is not made of white or black. You also need to learn to be flexible in order not to break. 

Most significant regret

When I was small and foolish, I prided myself on having no regrets, and worse, I thought I would never have any, that if I did, my life would be over. It’s a terrible taboo. I would say now that a life without real regrets has not been lived. I wish my regrets would always be in favor of what I did, and I will not regret what I could not do.

My biggest regret is that I gave my purest feelings and trust to the wrong people. Of course I am happy for the lessons I have learned, if it had not happened, maybe I would never have learned them. But what makes me sad is not these relationships, but the fact that my perspective on other people has changed because of the wounds these relationships have inflicted on me. Not being able to trust again with the same naivety and certainty. I hope this will be a taboo that I can learn to overcome.

Favorite movie

Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit franchises. Sorry I couldn’t pick again. 🙂

And whenever I feel sad, tired and frustrated, I watch 50 First Dates. This has become a kind of tradition. 

Three favorite spots from your favorite city (tip, recommendation, doesn’t have to be your hometown)

I haven’t had the chance to see many places yet, but if I did, I feel like my favorite would always be Istanbul. I can say that Galata, Karakoy and Kuzguncuk are my favorite places to visit. 

Berdnik, Usnplash

Three to five qualities that u find in opposite/same sex that take your breath away (description if necessary).

The number one is definitely the smile. It is impossible not to be moved by a genuine warm smile.

The second one is the tone of voice. I think you can witness that the tone of voice can make you a giant in an instant. 

The third one is kindness. 

The fourth one would be a sense of humor. And yes, funny men are really leading the race.

The last feature may sound a bit strange… Resourcefulness. I don’t know, but it could be someone cooking confidently in the kitchen, fixing something broken, doing carpentry. I can be impressed by someone who is a hard worker, someone who is good at what they do. 

Describe yourself in one word


Your message, favorite quote, moto 

“Art always says to life, “But still!””

György Lukács, The Theory of the Novel

Three things without which happiness seems unattainable

Bertrand Russell said, “Of all kinds of caution, the most detrimental to true happiness must be the avoidance of love.” 

The first, of course, is love. 

Two, freedom.

Three, creating. It could be growing a sapling or making a painting.

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