Sunday, January 5, 2014

Careers-Bettina Zachow

 Hey everyone! Meet Bettina Zachow. She's not only an amazing artist who creates intricate pieces mainly out of hair, but also an awesome person with an interesting story. I sat down with her to talk about  her artistic work and career. Enjoy!
How did your passion for art begin?
As a little kid I already drew a lot. I really enjoyed it. Then, in the 5th or 6th school year, I watched my brother, who was training to be a dental technician, draw teeth, with shadows and everything. I wanted to learn how to do that. When this passion for art had become more and more apparent, I stood in front of the work by Joseph Beuys, a gigantic installation, and my heart started beating really fast. It was so mysterious and incomprehensible but magical. I think those are the moments you search for, where one is touched.
When and how did you make the decision to become an artist?
You have to consider that I didn’t get as much support from my family as you maybe do now. I come from a family in which everyone is an engineer, very down to earth. I am the only one who was a little kinky. My father didn’t support me in my creative ambitions, only my brothers sometimes bought me colors or a canvas here and there.
So after you finished school, you decided that’s what you wanted to do.
Well, actually I thought, because I knew you couldn’t make much money from art that you maybe tried to find a practical job that still has something to do with design. That’s why I studied biology for a half a semester.  That’s when I heard about the lectures by Max Imdahl, a very famous German art historian. He really was an eye opener. So I studied art history for quite a while. Then suddenly my dad died and I thought hard about everything again. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do hands on work, so I studied art in education. This was also because I always thought, what I did wasn’t good enough for me to go to an academy. I finished the theoretical part of the studies, but didn’t carry on to become an art teacher, because after I had finished my state examination about hair, I felt like I’d finally achieved something. I had the feeling that this was the right path. In the end I had taken a lot of detours to come to this point that others might have somehow been able to skip through a better support or a more stable self. But then again I would probably not be able to work the way I do now without those detours though.
Do you make enough money to live from your art?
I can tell you what it was like during the first ten years after university. I did a lot of side-jobs, didn’t have a lot of money but had a lot of time for my art. I managed a lot during those years, more than I had ever thought I would.
Were you able to sell your art?
Yes, the little things I sold. Not in the kind of masses you would need to sell to live from it. You are usually happy if you arrive at a zero at the end of the day. The money from art prizes made a difference though.
So basically you worked to finance yourself and the art paid for itself?
Yes, even though I really tried to work as little as possible. I had a job where I worked about four to five hours day and on weekends, so I had enough time to do art in a fulltime manner.
What would you tell people who want to become artists but fear the financial instabilities which come with the job?
I would definitely try to stand on two legs and not simply wait until it works with the art. There are a lot of people who go to the area of graphic design. I would strictly separate that from personal work.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Well, the work itself, when you get into this flow. While working you get a lot of ideas as well and I always write all of that down. Or in literature and language itself, I note extraordinary words. I have a book of beautiful words for example, in which I write everything that I find. Observations from everyday life as well. These are the inspirational impulses which make a person an artistic one. An artist is able to read between the lines or think outside the box. 
What do you think is important to know if you would like to become an artist?
Authenticity! Of course you should look about in the world, but somehow always stay yourself and explore your own ‘view’! That’s a question of character. I think authenticity in artistic statements convinces instantaneously and intuitively. One should start working on that very early.
It is very important to know, that there is a very big injustice in the visual art. This is that you don’t get anything for presenting your work. You present your work, maybe also in large exhibitions, and you are proud of that and it gives you publicity but nothing more. And I doubt that this will change any time soon. The advantage of course is that you produce something that is there to stay, so you have the possibility to sell it. Sometimes I do regret maybe not having a job which is more respected in society and in which you can really build up a lot of skill. However, I think there is such a thing as an ‘art drive’. That is a kind of drive that somehow wants you to do something and when you do it, it is good. You have to look at it this way: the time you spend making art is valuable, much more valuable than all the fuss about exhibitions and that kind of stuff.

Photographs are by Christiane Bach, Andreina Francese-Thomas, Dirk Hoffman, Hendrik Lietmann & Bettina Zachow

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