Friday, July 29, 2016

My scandi steeze

Quick, like a bandaid. 
Write a post and you're back. Doesn't even have to be that good.
Forget about standards.
Would you believe me when i say i was never really gone?
Maybe not, but it's the truth.
Even when i'm not posting, i'm always writing. 
And even when i'm not writing, part of my brain is always focused on the content of this blog.
It's just that. Well you know. 

But today i wrote on my instagram, that i would publish something tonight.
Maybe i even did that intentionally?
Giving myself a deadline?
I don't know, but it's happening and that's all that matters.

What finally gave me the kick in the butt i needed to post something, was a magazine that came out recently.
A magazine that i just bought today,.
A magazine that i am in!
So while posting a picture of the magazine on instagram earlier, i wrote that i would post the full, unedited, pre-translated interview on my blog, and now, well, now i have to, don't i.

The magazine is German, but it's sold in many other countries.
I've been reading it for the past fifteen years, probably.
And now i'm in it.
Not because i work in the tattoo industry, but because... because i'm... me?
I don't know, i just say yes!

Anyway, here's the interview, before it got cut down to fit the page and translated into German.
I hope you like it!

Do you find it easier or harder to live in Berlin, rather than Copenhagen? Does this choice have anything to do with (your) tattoos? 
Where else could you imagine to live? 

Life in Berlin is in many ways harder, but better. 
Being an expat, not speaking the language fluently, dealing with foreign bureaucracy, cultural differences, and loneliness makes life here difficult at times. 
But I think the rewards of living in Berlin more than makes up for it.

Life moves at a slower pace in Berlin compared to Copenhagen, and that’s one of the things that made me want to move here. Being busy and overworked is not a status symbol here in the same way that is is in Copenhagen, where people look at you like you’re a burden on society if you admit to taking a nap!

I love that people here try to make time for seeing something besides their home and workplace, for discovering new places, and seeing friends, and socializing isn’t necessarily limited to bars on weekends… although that’s a big part of Berlin life too!

I found my two best friends here, and we bonded over exploring the city together, and I’m not sure that could have happened in Denmark, where there’s sometimes very little room for spontaneity.

Regarding tattoos, I actually thought there’d be more heavily tattooed people before I moved here, and that having a lot of visible tattoos wouldn’t be a big deal, but I think I was wrong about that.
While most of the attention you attract as a tattooed woman is positive and mainly comes from a place of curiosity, I do face my fair share of harassment, finger pointing, men trying to grab me, people shouting at me from cars, and just a whole lot of staring. People in Berlin just love to stare at you, and unlike most other places, they won’t avert their gaze when you catch them doing it!
That took a little getting used to.
So basically it’s the same problems any other woman faces when living in a city, especially now during the summer, but it’s more intense when you’re tattooed, because a lot of people somehow assume it’s ok to confront you because you chose to look like this.

I dream of living lots of places.
I’ve been madly in love with Tokyo for well over a decade, so that’s obviously very high on the list of places I dream of living, but I pretty much have a new dream destination every week! 
I’ll start fantasizing about what life would be like there, I’ll read all about it on Wikipedia and expat blogs, I’ll even look at the housing market, and think about how hard it would be to learn the language.
I obsess over it, and then next week, it’s on to a new place!
My current obsession is Lisbon even though I’ve never been there, and a few weeks ago it was Medellin in Colombia.
I have a very easy time adapting to new places, so I think I could be happy almost anywhere that isn’t too cold haha.

Quite a lot of people follow your Instagram and Blog. You make living in Berlin look so romantic and easy, and people love to see this stuff. But aren't there moments when living here sucks? 

Oh god yes haha! The before mentioned occasional harassment and staring, and obviously maneuvering your way through the German bureaucracy, are just a few of the things that sometimes makes you wanna pack a bag and move to a deserted island.

On my blog, I think I’m very honest about my life, also when it occasionally sucks.
There I write about the tough breakups I’ve been through since moving to Berlin, about how it is trying to find yourself as a single individual in a new city after being married for over a decade. 
I write about the isolation of not having family and old friends close by, of breaking down sometimes when it all gets to be too much. I’ve written about depression and anxiety and loneliness, I try to be an open book for my readers, and sometimes it can seem a bit sad and hopeless.

My instagram is admittedly a bit more superficial, and sometimes I get emails from people who’ll say “oh, your life is so great, all you do is eat cute food and go out for coffee with your friends, your life is so easy!” and I just kind of laugh because we never know what goes on in each other's lives behind the scenes. 
I may chose to share a brief, nicely curated, moment of my day on instagram, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the day wasn’t a total shitshow haha.
But who wants to see pictures of the packed Sbahn at 7 in the morning where I can’t get a seat, or when my dog pees on the floor making me late for work, of the grey walls of my cubicle at my day job? 
On instagram I chose to share mainly pretty and positive images, not only because I think that’s what people prefer, but also because it’s what I prefer, it’s what cheers me up.

And I use those pictures on my blog too, where I think it creates a good balance with the often personal, and sometimes sad, writing.
I actually like to think that one of my strengths as a human being, is always being able to see beauty and goodness and humor in life, even when it seems bleak, and when I feel a little sad and lost, all I have to do is look at my blog, or scroll through the photos on my camera roll, and I think “hey, look at all these colorful pictures of puppies and coffees and plants… life ain’t so bad!”

You find various ways to make a living, one being buying and selling vintage clothing. Where can we find your stuff? 

I sell vintage clothing and prints of my artwork on my two etsy stores.
Berlin Vintage Company is where I sell used clothing:
And in my other shop I sell handmade stuff and prints:
This winter I also sold clothes at a flea market, but although it was fun, I was highly regretting it at the end of the day when my feet were frozen solid!
I’d love to do Boxhagener Platz again soon, because the vibe is great, and I love the concept of recycling clothes, and purging my closet of items I never wear, that someone else might end up loving.
I would also like to sell my artwork at a market at some point, but when it comes to presenting stuff I’ve created myself, I’m horribly shy, and way worse at self promotion than people might assume based on social media!

Do you think Scandinavian people have good taste (for clothes, tattoos, furniture)? Why would that be the case? Could they be a positive influence on Berlin? 

I think we do have good taste in general, yes. When I visit my friends and family in Copenhagen, I always notice how they all decorate their homes beautifully, and when I’m walking down the street of my hometown, I’m always amazed at how well dressed and good looking the vast majority of people are. I always forget, it’s downright intimidating sometimes with all that beauty and perfection haha!
When I lived there, I remember that I found all that good taste kind of boring, and as a person who likes to dress up, sometimes dress up a little wacky even, I didn’t always feel completely comfortable there.
In Berlin, I feel like I can dress and look the way I want. Like the city itself, people here don’t strive to be perfect, and most people aren’t afraid to be ugly once in awhile, if it means they can have fun with their look, or just be plain comfortable.
Comfort is a big thing here, it’s all about sneakers in Berlin, no heels!

I see a lot of Scandinavian influence in Berlin, especially when it comes to furniture and interior design, in for example cafes and restaurants, but because people in Berlin aren’t afraid to stand out and experiment with style, I often think they actually pull it off better than we can in Scandinavia.

You decorated several tattoo shops before, for example Conspiracy Inc. Berlin, which is one of the nicest ones I have ever been to. 
What do you think is lacking in tattoo shop interior design? What could be done better? Also what can you do, if you don't have massive amounts of space, and not a lot of money? And there is the issue of practicality in an environment that needs to be hygienic, easy to clean, etc. 

Well first of all, thank you! Decorating Conspiracy Inc. in Berlin was a dream come true, and although I don’t work there anymore, I’m still very proud of how that studio turned out.
The space was amazing, and having a new city with new shops and flea markets, and the magical wonderland known as Bauhaus, was obviously a big help when it came to decorating.

Having a good space, and a big budget, is obviously an advantage when decorating a tattoo studio, but you can do so much with a bit of paint, and a few good pieces of furniture.
And of course plants!  
If you don’t have a big budget, just painting one wall in a great color, or putting up some unique wallpaper, works wonders and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Details like that adds personality and soul to a room, and in a tattoo shop, I think that’s super important. A homely feeling will make customers relax, and they’ll automatically have a better experience than in a sterile looking environment.
Another cheap and easy to transform a room is shelves. Lots of shelves!
You just go to Bauhaus, buy some long, cheap, wooden boards, cut them into the the right length, stain them in the color or tint that you want, put them up on the wall, and stock them with vintage books, plants and flea market finds.
Instant coziness on a very small budget.

When trying to decorate a tattoo studio on a budget, it also helps to bring decorative items from your house. When I helped my friend Wendy Pham (Wenramen) decorate her tattoo studio Taiko Gallery in Berlin, we used a bunch of art and accessories we found lying around the house, and took it to the shop instead. I had a collection of Japanese Maneki Neko that didn’t really work with the look I wanted for my new apartment, and they ended up fitting in perfectly in her shop, and it cost us nothing.

I think in general, tattoo shops, at least the more exclusive ones, for lack of a better word, look great these days.
I still remember a time where it was all non-ironic Cherry Creek flash on the walls, and the decor looked like a dentist's waiting room, so I think tattoo shop decor has come a long way since then.
But if I had to say one thing that’s lacking, it’s maybe a little more originality. A lot of shops, especially European ones, seem to be going for the same kind of neo-Victorian decor with big ornamental gold frames and taxidermy everywhere haha.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the look, but I’d like to see a new trend.

I also think that style of decorating can be a bit problematic when it comes to shop hygiene.
There are many practical issues to consider when decorating a tattoo studio, and It’s just harder to clean things that are wood, fabric or organic material.
And you might think something like curtains or doors with cute door knobs look will look adorable, but when you’re wearing gloves or carrying something in need of sterilization, those things will work against you!

If I were to ever decorate a shop again, i think it would be way more modern.
Not minimalist and certainly not like a doctor's waiting room, but definitely more modern!

With all your taste and talents, why don't you tattoo? 

Thanks, and good question haha! 
I did actually apprentice for a while a couple of years ago.
Tattooing was something I’d been dreaming of doing for years and years, so I was extremely excited about it, but under the circumstances at the time, it wasn’t working out, and in the end, I had to walk away.
I don’t think I’ll ever completely let go of that dream, and it’s sad when something you want so badly doesn’t work out, but then you find other dreams!

All I wanna do in life is find something that makes me happy, and that somehow also magically pays the bills.
I would love to someday have my own shop again, someplace I can decorate just the way I want, some place I be proud of.
And besides that, I just wanna paint, and write, and take pictures, as much and as often as possible.

It me

I bought the magazine on the way home from work today... that and a white Magnum ice cream.
 And then i sat out on my balcony and looked through it, and felt pretty good about life

This is what the cover looks like, should you, like me, want to go buy it