There is so much to do with a move like this for two people and two cats. Plus we’re both partially disabled and just don’t have the bandwidth some people do.
So it was only this Friday, three months after we arrived, the day after we got our two-year visa, that I finally made it to an artist’s networking event.
It was at ESDIP Berlin, a co-working space and art school in Friedrichshain.
I took the subway, even though the tram would have been more efficient, because I love the subway so much. Across from me there were three blond German kids; I noticed them because one girl had a face that interested me as a potential model. I don’t have cards yet though, and although I have been known to accost total strangers and demand they pose for me, I prefer to have a card to give them.
I got off at Frankfurter Tor, which smells slightly like pee, as do many Friedrichshain stations.
I deeply appreciated that the event didn’t start til 8, and when I got there at 8:30 everyone was eating delicious vegan food from Flambé. After staggering asthmatically up the eight million stairs, I entered the room full of young artists in full-on perimenopause hotflash hell.
Luckily, there was a gallery space serving as smoking room with open windows, and I saw a woman my own age, standing in one of them. I asked if I could share her window, since I was having a change of life moment.
She said in the most glorious, smoky, Marlene Dietrich voice, “Dahling, you know I understand you!”
I had a lovely chat with her, and then found a seat next to Clairikine, a transcultural maker of comics who I was delighted to meet. There is an incredible generation of young women in comics now, fearless and funny. They were never wounded by the battle to break in at the Big Two as I was, because they’ve never cared about working at Marvel or DC. They make comics and post them, and scrape together a living, and they don’t have to get sexually harassed by editors to do it.
Soon the first presenter, a graphic designer from Spain, started his slides.
That’s him in the top picture, Jorge Chamorro. I was so happy to be in a room full of artists, with beautiful work on the walls, with people holding sketchbooks, with people talking about making visual art. There were people from all over Europe, and of course plenty of Americans because there are Americans everywhere in Berlin, and everyone there cared about DRAWING. (And eating tasty vegan food. And drinking beer, or delicious Fritz-Kola, like me.)
It was like taking a bath in hope and welcome, especially because of the usual ghastly Berlin humidity.
The presenters were from Spain, France, Scotland and Germany. I was enchanted by French animator Perrine Marais and her fucking adorable mobile game, Pony Style Box. I was also impressed to see that “Kommunikations Designer” Jonas Heidenreich has solid actual drawing skills under his graphic design chops. I don’t think they teach drawing to design students in the US anymore.
I felt like I was in an environment where traditional draughtsmanship was actually valued, for the first time in decades.
I drew this picture below after the talks were over, especially for one of my patrons, since she has a taste for a certain look in boys.
I headed home early, just past midnight, because I’m an old, but I was deeply glad to have gone and so excited about art in Berlin.
I stopped at a very cool little crepe shop and bought two goddam excellent macarons, for just €3, and on the subway I saw the three blond kids again, sitting across from me again. “You guys were–” I said, laughing, and they said, “Yes! Berlin is small.”
Berlin is small, but big enough for new dreams.