Images can give reliable hints about what’s happening in the body and the mind. This being said, you never really know what a person is like and if what they are presenting to the world is true or a facade. That is true in every scenario but specially so for an artist.
Interviewing an artist is such a tricky moment. You literally don't know what you are going to get.Photo: Christian Rothenhagen© all rights reserved.
Any way, this time around I was a little bit nervous before arriving to the studio where I was supposed to interview Christian Rothenhagen. I mean, a friend had spoken to me about him and he spoke wonders not only of how talented he is but of the kind hearted person he actually is. So, I was nervous!
Photo: Laura Viera A© all rights reserved.I finally go there and we shook hand like it is custom here in Germany. We sat down in the corner of his studio and began talking. First a bit about me and the magazine and why I wanted this interview. Slowly, I turned on my recorder and began the official talk.
It went from a very normal typical interview to more of a chat between old acquaintances. It was great!
Christian Rothenhagen is a kind, down to the earth, chill and true artist.
He is a true Berliner. He was born and raised in the German capital and has had the luck of being in love with his city ever since he walked its streets as a child.
Photo: Laura Viera A© all rights reserved. His medium is the drawing. Through his eyes it is possible to see and feel the streets of Berlin, San Francisco or Toronto.
L.Viera: How did you get into drawing?
C. Rothenhagen: Oh, good question… well, I always did that, even as a kid.
C. Rothenhagen: As a kid it was my goal to copy other stuff. Comic stuff or something.
L.Viera: What do you think about drawing as a medium?
C. Rothenhagen: I think it's the most direct and “rough” thing in art. You think something and you draw something and there is not much in between. It's staring from scratch, you can be very detailed with that."I love the city, absolutely."
L.Viera: I was wondering if every city that you go to inspires you or if you have favourites?
C. Rothenhagen: Of course, the main favourite is Berlin. I am from here and there are so many changes that I like to hold time, kinda! And over the years, San Francisco as well. I love architecture and San Francisco is a beautiful city.
There are so many changes it is interesting to keep some of that in the drawings.Photo: Laura Viera A© all rights reserved.
Something that must be said is that those who “teach” themselves art can in many ways have a different approach to it. However, as an artist you know that there really is no limit when it comes to creative, imaginative, and beautiful art.
So, the biggest question is how can someone sharpen how can you their skills and grow as a self-taught artist."I left part of my heart in San Francisco but I am in love with Berlin.
Well, Christian is exactly that, a self taught artist and a damm good one if I may say so.
Photo: Laura Viera A© all rights reserved.While art is a talent, it does not grow by itself in a vacuum, and in order for someone to reach their potential they need a grasp of the basics, a grounding in fundamentals.
He never studied art. Rothenhagen grew up in the East and because of political issues he was not allowed to graduate so he could never have a chance to study.
But, as luck would have it, the wall came down when he was 17 years old.
His next step was a carpenter apprenticeship. Not necessarily because he wanted to be a carpenter but because it was the closest to the arts that he could get at the moment.
Then after concluding his period as an apprentice he went back and got his A levels and was able to study.
L.Viera: So, what did you study?
C. Rothenhagen: I wanted to study graphic or clothing design but I was too shy to do that and for some reason I ended up studying Social Education.Photo: Christian Rothenhagen© all rights reserved.
L.Viera: oh, thats a change…. you shifted.
C. Rothenhagen: I shifted a lot but I finished everything I started. During my studies I worked at a skate shop and I had my clothing line by that time as well. I felt the need to finish all my creative output so I asked a friend of mine to teach me photoshop and thats how I got into graphic design and digital stuff.
L.Viera: After you finished your studies what happened?
C. Rothenhagen: I started an internship at an advertisement company. After being a junior art director for a couple of years I decided to be freelance artist, illustrator and everything and over the years it became more art focused.
L.Viera: All detours are welcomed?
C. Rothenhagen: Yes absolutely. Like the Social Education studies make it possible for me to teach at art schools, the carpenter apprenticeship opens new channels, it opens my mind when working with wood, 3d materials.
L.Viera: And you always kept on drawing?
Photo: Christian Rothenhagen© all rights reserved.C. Rothenhagen: Yeah, yeah.
Architecture is his theme. After all he is self proclaimed city kid. It´s about changes and the beauty of it. It's a very personal view of a city.
In a busy world, it’s easy to get distracted. Sometimes you look at a blank canvas, and you think that’s as far as you will get.
We all know that building a sustainable career in the creative field is not easy. The lack of artistic training did not stop him from achieving his dreams.
Creating works of art that are sober, enriched with life, meaning, secrets, memory and history, has made Christian R. a stablished artist."I could never leave Berlin not for good."
L.Viera: Do you still get nervous before and exhibition?
C. Rothenhagen: Of Course. I mean doing art is very personal. So, you open up. Every peace you do is intimate.
L.Viera: Does it bother if someone doesn't like it?
C. Rothenhagen: Actually it doesn't really bother me. Sometimes I appreciate it because if everyone enjoyed what I do it would be the biggest shit ever because it wouldn't challenge me, I don't want to decorate. My stuff is personal and if people don't understand it, its fine and if people see the meaning behind it even better.
Every corner may be a new canvas. Inspiration is literally everywhere. Sometimes a street takes a new life and his eyes capture the beauty of it. He is always with his smartphone so a picture is the perfect manner to freeze an image that later on will become traces and shapes.Photo: Christian Rothenhagen© all rights reserved.
I think that having had no professional art training gives him the encouragement and freedom to simply create from his heart instead of trying to find a balance between educational training and personal expressions. To mature as a self taught artist involves discipline and he has that.
Ireally believe that creativity is in all of us. In some people, it manifests itself early in life and the path for these people starts there. I don’t believe that professional training limits the people who really believe that their gift to create has always been part of their DNA. When it’s in you, it’s just too strong to compromise with any type of training.