Hello Katharina! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hey there! I'm a Finnish-German contemporary artist based in Helsinki, Finland. I've grown up in a melting pot of different cultures and languages and in my art I want to explore fundamental questions about existence. I have never truly felt like belonging in one place, yet somehow I belong everywhere, and I seek to understand very different kinds of world views. I am interested in a wide range of fields from art and culture to science and politics and discussing big ideas for example with my art community is one of my favourite activities.
I have drawn and painted all my life and have been taught by multiple professional artists. I also have a Master's of Science degree and I share my weeks working as an artist as well as in the tech industry.
I don’t believe in boxing either people or art in one single category as both are far more complex and interesting - and I love using experiences from one world to enrich the other.
The world is becoming more complex, but at the same time it is enabling new possibilities. Creativity across industries is a vital piece of our societal evolution. I’m currently also doing part time studies in Russian classism under the guidance of some of the world’s best teachers from The Russian Academy of Arts, St Petersburg.
What is your art about?
I draw inspiration from life, nature, meditation, scientific achievements, societal topics and the love that connects us all. To me art is the mirror of humanity - it shows what we as humans experience beneath the surface in ways that other methods cannot. It is incredible how an artwork can make us feel things - similar and different, without us being able to explain why or how.
I want my paintings to stop the viewer for a moment to explore the meaning behind the strokes and build their own interpretation about it, and I feel that each art work begins a new life when a new viewer looks at it.
How did your art and style evolve over time?
The pencil has been my best friend for my entire life, and I don’t think a day has gone by when I haven't drawn something. It could be a witch on the walls of my childhood home as a kid, or an anatomy sketch in my studio this summer. As I grew older I fell in love with painting abstract shapes with a big brush, as it gives freedom to express big emotions and ideas in a very dynamic, capturing way that leaves space for the viewer’s individual interpretation.
What does a day in your studio look like?
To me a rested mind is a creative mind and I prep my studio days with a good night’s sleep. I have my studio in an industrial area in Helsinki where many other artists work and it’s great to catch up with other creative minds during the day. Unlike many think, a professional artist cannot always wait for “feeling like making art” and as one of my art professors said - artists have to learn how to start the creative machine even when not feeling very creative. Some days the ideas flow effortlessly, in others they need to be lured out. I feel that I’m a bucket that gets fed with input from different life experiences and sources of inspiration that then translate onto the canvas. Some days I get a lot of work done, and some days are done after a few strokes. Also - sometimes there are phases one needs to just dedicate to filling the bucket, so taking time off intense creation is also important. My acrylic paintings also have a lot of thick layers so the work often requires extreme patience, which means that putting the brush down is wiser than to keep going.
It’s Friday at 9pm, what’s your drink of choice?
I would probably go for a hoppy IPA at my friend’s brewery or a full-bodied Portugese red wine at a cozy local restaurant.
We noticed that you have a business of beautiful art wearables as well. What inspired you to launch your wearable art collection / business?
I'm glad you like them. I wanted to make art that is easily accessible for people - a large artwork can be quite expensive to many and there is a limited amount I can make of them. All of my Wearable Art pieces are hand painted and they're meant to be small artworks one can wear, kind of immersing themselves in art. The idea of my clients being a part of the art piece and completing the picture felt beautiful to me. The response has also been great.
What are some of the day-to-day challenges / difficulties you face as an artist who also runs a business?
Time would be a lovely thing to have more of, but I guess that’s a universal challenge. I like to have different kinds of activities and challenges in my life and I highly enjoy working with clients, collectors, experts and the public. I have a very active social media presence and for me connecting with different kinds of people who are interested in art is very enjoyable. In my work I handle everything from painting to contracting to book keeping as I like to have control over what’s going on. I also seek collaborations with other creative professionals so I think this has a lot to do with the interests, personality and the skillset of the artist.
Last artist, designer or illustrator that made you go “whoa”?
Two artists from very different eras that always inspire me are Richie Culver with his unapologetic and confrontational style and Franz Kline with his strong calculated strokes. Lately I have admired textile and fabrics a lot and Lisa Jiang does them so well. I am also a big fan of spatial art works and one that took my breath away is Chiharu Shiota's Tracing Boundaries actually here in Finland in Espoo Museum of Modern Art.
What helps you stay driven and motivated to keep going with your art and business?
I have grown up using a multitude of languages, and yet I would have to say my most natural language is art. And like any human, we seek to communicate with others, preferably in the way that feels most natural to us. I see it as a privilege to get to share my world view and inner thinking, so staying motivated has yet not been a challenge to me. We only have one life and if we are lucky enough to get to choose what we do, why wouldn’t we be running towards our wildest dreams like we were on fire? That being said, art is a tough business and, in my opinion, it will be very hard to work in it unless you love to create with all your heart. You do need to also be merciful towards yourself, take time to train and let the bucket fill up after periods in which a lot has been taken out.
What is the worst the bumper sticker someone could put on your car?
This is a funny question to me as we don't really have a bumper sticker culture here in Finland. But it would probably have something to do with anti-vaxx promotion.
A surprising fact about you?
We have a project ongoing with my friend where we read and discuss the sacred books of all major religions world wide in order to understand life and differing views better. So far we’ve done Christianity, Islam and Hinduism and it has been incredibly enriching and eye opening. Maybe the world would be a different kind of a place if more people did this.
What’s something that you love that the world seems to hate?
Being happy with what one has.
Closing Notes & Credits
Contact Katharina via email using: [email protected]
Follow on instagram here : @artist.katharinaschmidt
Cover Photo by : Emma Koskinen