My Way Into Art
I figured one of my first posts about art would be the perfect opportunity to talk about my own way into this magnificent world.
I recently discovered that my great grandfather was not only a traveling church painter as I’d always thought, but an artist as well, studying all over Europe and exhibiting all over Denmark. My dear aunt told me this, and I’m starting to get the feeling that all the cool family secrets and stories are yet to be discovered. Anyway, this artistic family is what I’m born into. They’re a bunch of nerds disguised as entrepreneurs, artists, and other kinds of creative doers. And there I was, 5 years old, completely mesmerised by my grandmother’s drawings, both on her walls and in her studio. I recall her telling me to draw a glass, and so I did. I coloured it and everything, and when I showed her, she was impressed. But then she showed me her version of that same glass, and I was disappointed how much more beautiful hers was, and it wasn’t even coloured – she’d just drawn it with her pencils. I grabbed my drawing and set out to make another one just with pencils, like hers.
I think these comparisons has been with me always, and just recently I’ve started to let go of them. As I grew older and went through elementary and middle school, I began wondering what I’d do when I grew up. I knew the urge to create images in visual arts and writing would always be with me, but it didn’t seem like something the adults encouraged to go for. Instead, our teachers suggested us to strive to be engineers and architects. Architect, I thought, that’d be cool. Then it was pilot, so I could fly and see the whole world, then it was astronaut so I could go to outer space, then it was scientist so I could understand the quantum physics and how it’s all made and why the world is so beautifully unpredictable as I’d always known it to be.
I’ve been driven by curiosity always
– but also let myself set back to the norm, which was all the system really encouraged us to. Not that I feel any harm in that (anymore, gosh I was mad about it once) but I do wish that this generation and the ones after be encouraged to follow their urge as I believe that’s where real talent and awesome, sustainable workforce is to be found.
I’m grateful I came across some outstanding teachers seeing something in me that I didn’t. At boarding school, I just applied for the gymnasium that seemed the most fun, because what else was there really? It was at the time everyone made decisions based on what “they could fall back on”. I can’t believe I didn’t question that irrational idea more. On my fall-back choice of gymnasium, I met a girl, who didn’t want to be there either, and one day, she told me: “you know what, I’ve been looking into it. There’s a school for you in Aarhus, an hour away from here. They have a creative course, where you can study design and technology, and compared to that I really don’t see what you’d get out of being here.” I was almost embarrassed of how quickly I changed schools and moved, after what she said – just when I turned 18 and therefore an adult – ha! Those years were awesome. I didn’t attend school much, although the classes were cool and our projects really got me in to entrepreneurship, technology and design.
I volunteered at an old theatre, which was full of various artists, and to this day, I still think those nights were the best of my life. I was happy and free among the other curly minds. Jazz nights really got my poetry going, I wrote books, and I worked on a play. I assisted the artists in the house and the ones visiting. It was locals and people from all over the world, and it seemed like nothing was too crazy to be impossible. I loved everything about that place, and I was sad when it closed down.
I had a sense it was about time to get serious and think about the future. So I attended classes again and applied for university. I figured the life as an artist would be one in a million, even though my grandmother regularly asked me if I still practiced painting and drawing. I lied and said yes. Truth is I didn’t do it for years.
I got into fashion design, because my creative skills would be useful, and the business is big and job opportunities likewise. After a year of studies, I moved to Tel Aviv for an internship. The work was good, but what was exceptionally enriching was discovering the art and night life in the city as well as other areas in Israel. When I went to West Bank, Palestine, I was blown away by the street art telling the stories of the sad state of politics. One night in a bar, I made a drawing of a bird, and the bartender put it under the glass of the bar table to exhibit with my name and the date. I was surprised that someone wanted to keep my drawing like that. Later that night, the photographer I was with captured me in a drawing process, and I started realising an urge coming back as I felt liberated in my time in Israel. No one was watching me or expecting anything from me.
The following years, I got happily distracted starting up companies in fashion and studying abroad. I set out to get as much out of my studies as I possibly could. In between, a new acquaintance discovered my art. It was one of those times where I just needed an escape from a boring autumn reality and wanted to paint it out. There is this place in Aarhus where a few can do this, and I borrowed a canvas and some acrylic paint. I didn’t know if I’d ever actually painted before, but I started painting from emotion, and he came by and saw it. He loved it. A short while after, he invited me to be a part of a shared studio among other artists. I was intimidated, because I wasn’t an artist, and what would I do among those real artists?
I had the mantra: “If I think I can’t, I gotta try”.
But to my amazement, they were all so welcoming, and after a short tour in the very underground and improvised studio space, I said yes, and I started coming there during the week. Particularly the nights, when no one could see me, I’d feel free to try out my style. Every now and then the guy that discovered me would push me out of my comfort zones, which had been shaped effectively by the strict rules of the design school. Soon, I had the mantra: “If I think I can’t, I gotta try”. And so, I learned to draw and paint all sorts of things, simply by doing according to this new approach. If I think I can’t, I gotta try. Last year around this time, the fashion companies I’d started, started feeling more draining that I’d realised, and I felt like escaping. I wanted to travel or go somewhere else, which wasn’t an unusual urge for me.
A close friend started asking questions about that. It was one of those late night talks, where I was beyond tired and all forces were down. He asked me what I was fleeing from. Nothing, I said. He then asked me about the urge to get away like that. No need to, I just feel like it. But he saw through me and remained patient. What do you want to get away from? He just kept asking, and eventually, I had no more ways to stretch the same answer, and it burst out of me: “Because when I’m away, no one is looking. I can just draw and write and be free. And I haven’t been able to in a long time, and it’s time!” And his eyes got wide and big, and I didn’t realise what just happened until he said: “So there you go!” And I just burst into joy. It was that all along – art.
I’d been distracting myself from it with the intention of eventually justifying my leave from the serious, adult world in time. Whereas, instead, I could’ve spent those years growing and evolving in it.
There’s no regrets though. I’ve had more experiences, travels and adventures than most at my age, and I’m eternally grateful. I did, however, set out to redesign my life and center it around my new found (or newly reunited) purpose around art.
This is my life now, and I’m happily introducing myself as an artist!
On this blog, I’ll share my journey, which is still new, and I hope you’d like to join me. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Stay tuned –
Love and light,