It’s a pleasure to be interviewing you today André. When did you first become interested in art and when did you start making art?
Hi Jacob, nice to meet you. It all started with Graffiti art when I was about 13 years old. That was in the early 90s after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Graffiti became all over my hometown and I was totally fascinated. We were spraying in abandoned factories, but also on walls and trains around my hometown. It was a crazy time. When I get around 20 years old I started to paint on canvas and made a education as a Graphic Designer in 2006. After that, I realized that I want to be free in my creativity and started to study fine arts at my local University of Fine Arts Dresden where I graduated in 2011 and a Master’s in 2013. I received some local Art Prices and fellowships which helped me in the first time. That’s how I became a professional artist.
When you first started to create art was it always paintings or what medium did you use?
As a Graffiti artist, you were mainly painting letters/styles on walls. When Street Art came around in the early 2000s, I focused more on creating images on stickers, stencils, and other mediums. That’s when I also started to paint on canvas and other mediums.
What was your inspiration early on and has it changed in recent years?
I realized that I have to grow out of Graffiti to become a more serious artist and prepare myself for the study of arts. At this time, in the mid-2010s, I was very interested in analog photography. I photographed train yards, GDR (German Democratic Republic) Socialism Murals, abandoned Industry, and typical GDR architecture that slowly disappears from the country by getting torn off. There was always the dream in my head, to be able to paint from these photos as precise and detailed as possible. Over the years at the university and after graduation, I came closer to this goal and enriched my architectural paintings with funny details and abstract elements. Humor and also melancholia were the main influences in my art at this time.
For you what is the most rewarding part of being an artist as your full-time job?
Interesting question, because I also work 28 hours a week in a regular office job at a local bike store. When I was a full-time artist after I graduated in 2011, it was a very hard time, trying to live from art. There have been months without an income, but you have to pay your bills. That’s when I started to work in a regular job next to my art career. Most of the artists I know personally have a regular job, to pay their rent. Being an artist is an expensive hobby;-) Now I try to balance my artistic career with my regular job and family. Unfortunately, you can’t produce as much as you have ideas or quickly. The benefit of this is that I am not under pressure to live from my art. Especially when you have had no sales for some time. Pressure means to be careless with the quality you create, and I want to make an artwork to 100%. My office job is next to my studio, so I can ride quickly over and work some hours after work.
Where did the idea come from to blend a fresh and contemporary twist into these old thrift store paintings?
Around the year 2019, I came into an impasse and deep crisis. I realized that I have to reinvent my art from this architectural theme and look around at what I can paint else. I was looking for a new art where I can put all my creativity into, without following a certain style of art. That’s when I started to paint on old thrift store paintings which I had left in my studio. These old german paintings from the period of 1900-1960 really fascinated me, because every painting is a new challenge and everything is possible. You can overpaint it, destroy it, disassemble them and be creative in many ways. My goal is to keep reinventing and staying creative without committing yourself.
Can you give us a glimpse into what your workflow is like? Where does the painting start and what is the journey along the way?
In my studio, I have two different workspaces: one for my vintage paintings which includes also restoration of paintings (the third part of my small artist business), and a place for painting. Most of my old flea market paintings have to be restored before I can paint over them. That’s how I became a self-taught restorer of paintings which I also offer to clients. But before I alter a painting I am sketching different ideas. At least I decide the best idea to realize. That goes from painting something in or over it, disassembling or arranging it new, or whatever can be possible to do with it. Sometimes I have an idea and search for the perfect painting and the other time I have the painting and search for the idea. The paintings I am working on are mostly from amateur painters or self-thaught artists from the early 20th century. Many of the paintings are copies of masterworks made just to study the style or for commissions. That’s a huge source where I can work, like the Carl Spitzweg paintings. All my paintings are original and have no prints, that’s very fascinating.
Then, when I have time left, I also work on my contemporary paintings for my german collectors and galleries. At the moment I work on a series of romantic Caspar David Friedrich paintings which I copy in oil colors and arrange with new contemporary imaginary as I do with my vintage art. Maybe that’s also a turning point in my current art: my vintage and contemporary art become closer together now.
What are some of your hobbies outside of making art?
I am a road and mountain bike cyclist enthusiast and doing this since I am a little boy. I love to ride through the woods with my friends and just have a good time. That gives me the power to free my mind for my art. My office job is at a local bike shop, so I made my both hobbies – art and cycling – into a job I can live from. At last, I am married and love to spend time with my wife and 3-year-old daughter.
What advice would you give younger artists for starting out in this industry?
When I talked to friends that I want to study art, they said to me that it will be hard and I had no talent. At least it is hard to live from it. But when you don’t do it, you will miss a chance and will never know what talent will be hidden inside you. And when you want to make art, then do it. Just for you or your friends and family and don’t hear what others say. In Germany, they say that you are only an artist when you graduated from a University. But that’s false and I see so many talented artists all over the world they never studied art.
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