Meet Berkay Dağlar, the Artist Behind Westworld’s “Host Portraits”
BY OLIVIA ARMSTRONG
Turkish-based illustrator and graphic designer Berkay Dağlar is the artist behind Westworld’s “Host Portraits” series. Each portrait features the park’s main players realized in ways not even Dr. Ford could imagine. Inspired by Season 1’s “reveries” — programming that allows hosts to access previous loops — Dağlar expanded on his viral Westworld illustration for a special series to kick off the second season of the mind-bending drama. Here, Dağlar talks about why the show inspires him to create, and what he’s most excited about for Season 2.
HBO: Tell us about your creative background. When did you first identify as an artist?
Berkay Dağlar: I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. In high school, I started to focus on entertainment — especially cinema. Then, in college, I wanted to combine my illustration style with movies and TV shows I liked, and so I began creating my own posters. The moment I realized I could express my excitement and fandom by filtering movies and shows through my point of view, was when I truly identified as an artist.
HBO: Why did you start watching Westworld? What about the show inspires your illustrations?
Berkay Dağlar: I was really excited to see how Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy and J.J. Abrams would handle the concept of the 1973 film of the same name — and how they would create a whole new story. The cast also had me hooked from the beginning, especially Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Ford.
The thing that inspired me most is the contrast between the two worlds: the modern, technological side, and the Wild West. So I tried to explore that particular duality in my illustrations. The show’s use of modern rock piano covers also inspired me.
HBO: What themes from the show do you try to convey through your work?
Berkay Dağlar: I aim to show both the innocence of the hosts and also the wild instincts towards violence and uprising. I find it amazing how they came to the realization of their own existence and the real world around them.
HBO: How do you see your illustrations evolving this time? What are you most excited about for Season 2?
Berkay Dağlar: I think Season 2 will be more violent and thought-provoking, so for my new illustrations, I plan to use darker, contrasting colors with bright red to reflect the war between two species.
I'm really excited to see how the hosts will affect the outside world. The trailer scene that shows Dolores in a modern city has me hyped to see where this all goes and how the characters will evolve.
Check out new Host Portraits from Dağlar every day before the Season 2 premiere of Westworld on April 22 at 9 pm. Then, catch new illustrations every week.