Meet Gülnur Avci, an 18-year-old Electrical Engineering major in Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Gülnur’s only limit is her imagination as she tries everything and anything that comes to her mind. She creates video games, constructs beautiful murals, edits videos, and so much more. Her curiosity has no bounds which has allowed her to seamlessly mesh her passions for both STEM and the Arts. Sounds like a paradox? Well read on further to find out more about the diverse talents of this eccentric creative.


Is there a name to your art? And if not, what exactly is it and how would you describe it?

There’s literally no name. I’m in SEAS [Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences] and my entire life, I’ve been STEM oriented so it’s always been all technical stuff, but I’ve always wanted to express myself artistically as well. So I never had a name for my art, I never really do anything with a name. I just paint and I edit videos sometimes; whatever comes to my mind, whatever I see on the internet, whatever I want to do- I just do it. 

What got you into it? What got you into this creative space where you’re able to just pick what you want to do and create something, like you said? 

When I was in middle school, I think I was in 8th grade, I was playing Angry Birds and then suddenly I got an idea. I didn’t understand how they made games or how they made the character go up and down based on the buttons. So then I started following tutorials and I got a computer from my dad. I made Flappy Bird as my first game and then from there throughout my high school career, I had a bunch of video game projects and that involved a lot of STEM because it was programming and included a lot of math and logic and algorithmic work for the game. That’s where the artistic side started and then just as I got bored, I started painting. Like the mural paintings started over winter break. I was just like “This is a white wall. Why not paint something on it?” 

Have you had any doubts or obstacles along the way in pursuing this creative side of you?

Yeah, my only obstacle would be that I don’t have more people to do it with. Like for my videos for example, I want to edit dance videos and I feel like sometimes I have ideas for videos I can shoot, but I need a second person and they’re not always with me right now. A lot of my creative friends are from Columbia and they’re people who share similar interests; I had to find my creative space somehow. 

When you say edit dance videos, what do you mean exactly? Do you mean shoot people dancing or something else?

If you look on my Instagram, I have some videos where I added glow animations to videos. I did one of me dancing, I did a hand tutting dance, but I don’t like shooting a video of me dancing and editing it. I want us to shoot an original video of someone else, and then I edit it and it’s more of a collaboration.

Do you envision what you’re doing going any further in the future?

I mentioned three things earlier: the video games, and then the murals, and then the videos. I definitely do for all three. I always get video game ideas, even though I’m not actively working on one right now, so it might be something I come back to. The videos are actually a creative outlet and I’m also teaching myself to use a software. I want to be so proficient in it that I can either turn it into a side hustle, like editing videos for people, or maybe do work in that field as well. I just like having different options.  And the murals, I just want to do that forever. I just paint whenever I can because it’s really fun and it adds so much energy to the space. 

Do you have a message for our audience or creatives, in general? 

People are always like, “If I spend time on this, is it good for my future?” or “Art is a waste of time,” but art is able to separate you from a normal box and thought of like this is what it must be: go to college, get a good grade, graduate and work for corporate forever. Art helps you step away from that and have a better view of what the world is. And for me, through art, I realized I’m not making any profit, I’m not necessarily improving a skill, but it’s very useful to me because I’m able to see clearer now. I’m able to see that I wasn’t brought here to work forever. So that would be my message. 

What makes you, as a creator, Brazen?

I would say it’s the fact that I’m able to jump between different things and can do a lot of things because I try everything I possibly can. For example, right now I know no pilots but I just decided one day that I wanted to be a pilot and that I wanted to fly airplanes. And now I’m getting my piloting license. Me not sticking to one form of art would be why I’m brazen. I’m bold enough to try new things.

Interview written and conducted by Nicolette Auld-Griffith