We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniela Schweinsberg and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daniela, what do you attribute your success to?
The most important factor of course is the art itself – the list of what you need to create “good” art seems endless: talent, knowledge about what you’re doing and the material, curiosity, a willingness to experiment and much more. And once you manage what you do, you have to be brave enough to leave your comfort zone to constantly develop yourself and your art. But I think all this is not enough. It’s just as important to have entrepreneurial qualities too. As an artist that not only sells via galleries but market herself, I take on many activities that galleries previously did. This is also reflected in the time I spend on this. Around half of my working time is spent on activities that have nothing to do with the painting process, i.e. taking photos and presenting my art, maintaining websites, creating catalogs, accounting… The artist’s “job” is extremely varied, and most of it is far from the romantic idea of an artist’s life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m an informal, abstract artist – that’s not uncommon at first. So it’s a huge compliment for me when people see my paintings and then say “I knew this work is a Schweinsberg!”. In my opinion, this is also something or what sets my paintings apart, that they have their own charisma. That is what I am very proud of and what makes me happy, that I have found my own and recognizable style, my artistic signature. This is something that, in my opinion, is mainly achieved through years of practice, you have to work, work, work means paint, paint, paint. Especially at the beginning, when you work out the basics and get to know the material, you are very open to outside impulses. Of course, that’s a good thing, because that’s how you discover things and expand your possibilities. But it is also important not only to imitate things, but to implement them in your own way, together with other influences and knowledge to make something of your own. One of the most important things is to listen to yourself, to research your own opinion about your paintings and to question whether and why they are good or not. And to question criticism of others, but then also to make an informed decision whether you accept it, or whether it is simply a different opinion. That also takes courage, but if you are convinced of your work in a professional way, then you can do this. For me along the way, and (in a good way) still very important today, is that I did not study art. Of course, I have attended a lot of advanced training courses and seminars, but I studied business administration and worked for many years in relevant professions. What initially appears to many to be a contradiction, has turned out to be spot on for me in retrospect – I am familiar with many things or activities that other artists do not suit. I do my accounting myself, marketing and business strategies are no foreign words to me, I manage my homepage myself. So from my perspective today, all of this is extremely important in order to be able to live from my work as a freelance artist. But these are also the challenges that has to be mastered. If working as a freelance artist was a “normal” job, I would say it has a very bad work-life balance. But since you do what you love, boundaries become blurred, so it’s no problem to work on hour or two more. I’d neither say that it was easy nor that it was (or is) difficult, I’d simply say it is possible if you put all your commitment into it. And that never was a question for me!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love Frankfurt, the city where I live and work, and I’m happy to show it to you! So here are a few things I would do with you – although there is a lot more to see and do in Frankfurt, but that would take us several weeks … The river Main flows through Frankfurt, and in summer it is beautiful on the river bank. There are a few bars there too, but we will have a lovely picnic there and watch people or just lay back and enjoy the day. When it comes to culture, Frankfurt offers two world-famous art museums (among many others), the Schirn Kunsthalle and the Städelmuseum. Both are always worth a visit and of course we would do that too. The Konstablerwache farmers’ market, where you can buy regional products, is a must-see. Winegrowers, breweries, farmers, bakers and butchers from around Frankfurt also invite you to eat and drink on-site, and many Frankfurters meet here on market days. Frankfurt is the only city in Germany with a skyline, which is why Frankfurt is also called “Mainhattan”. To see the city from above, we would visit the main tower and get an overview from the viewing platform at 198m. The main cemetery in the quarter Nordend is an oasis of calm and green. It opened in 1828 and you can find interesting old graves there. Above all, although the cemetery is in the middle of the city, it is wonderfully quiet – after just a few hundred meters the street noise disappears and the atmosphere with its many trees and winding paths is enchanting. Then we visit “Obere Berger Straße” in the quarter “Bornheim” – here you find pub after pub, and we definitely visit a typical Frankfurt cider pub, where we eat and drink Frankfurt specialties: Apfelwein (a Hessian kind of cider but with a different taste as usual) and green sauce (a herb sauce based on yoghurt and sour cream that is usually served with potatoes and eggs or schnitzel). In winter, a visit to the Frankfurt Christmas market – which takes place on the historic Römerberg – is a must.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I find it really difficult to answer that question. Not because there is nothing or no one, but rather because there was no particular experience or person. The only person who really played a role in my success on a continuous basis was my husband. Simply by always supporting my artistic work – we weren’t on vacation for many years because I had painting lessons on my vacation. He helps me at fairs and exhibitions, and often something else private had to take second place because painting and anything around it had priority. I think you need such a person. That can be the partner, a family member or a friend, but without this help, often also emotionally, you can’t do it. Just knowing that there is someone you can always count on often helps. And then of course there are artists who have influenced me. One of my first teachers was Peter Tomschiczek, a very well-known painter in Germany. His work is incredibly strong, rough, angular, and I learned a lot from him. Later I took a master class with Prof. Adam Jankowski, which was also very important for me artistically. In retrospect, I would say it was a real milestone, after which a new chapter began for me, because two years later I decided to take the step into a life as a freelance artist.