chatting with danish artist Christiane Spansberg

A few months ago, I had the pleasure to chat with talented Christiane, this is part of an ongoing interview.

CHRISTIANE SPANGSBERG is an artist aspired by originality and imperfection. Originally Christiane comes from Vejle in Jutland, where she was born in 1989, but currently she is resident at Nørrebro in Copenhagen. Drawing has always been a part of her life and her creativity has evolved from simplicity.  The inspiration for her drawings comes from Christianes surroundings, especially the people around her and life itself, where even death has an impact.




Leila: Christiane, what can you tell us  about your Art and what you hope to convey to people who come across one of your pieces?

Christiane: I actually rarely think about the purpose of my work. What it means and which message I am trying to communicate. To me, art is a piece of work only made once. I believe art to be a form of language. In your artistic sphere you find a place where you are comfortable, but if you want to be good, you have to continuously stay curious and do better. My purpose is to master proportions and forms so I can destroy them and play with them. Minimalism, complexity and imperfection are words I would love to speak through my works. But the meaning is different. The meaning of an artwork is subjective to the person who perceives. I work with humans as my object. My hope is to portray the imperfection of being human. To simplify the complexity we all share so it will speak for itself. My goal is to awake an interest in you. In your interest you notice the person, and in the expression of the person, who is being portrayed, you see yourself … and me, and everyone else.

Leila: I love what you expressed here, I have a similar view in terms of the way I would like my Art to be received, the message is there, and the interpretation free and subject to the eye of the viewer. But of course, with no message or meaning there’s no purpose in it at all.

img_2330-copy-683x1024Leila: How long have you been painting and drawing?

Christiane: I have been painting and drawing ever since I can remember. After school I would sit and depict objects. I would copy the object onto paper, in much larger scale than it was. And I would sit until I believed it to be done. It often made me furious, because it was so hard getting the proportions right, and I strived for perfection. I later went to drawing classes, to learn different techniques of working with coal. My mom taught me to work with aquarelle and I worked with this for a while. But then I gave it all up. I couldn’t see any purpose in it, I didn’t think I was good enough. I stopped drawing in my teenage years and I never thought about it until 2010. I never told anyone this before. I remember I was standing in the kitchen at work and an image just came to my mind. I sketched it on a piece of some tissue paper, went home, and drew it on some aquarelle paper. The drawing was a man with to dead birds hanging from his hat. My family loved it, and they had me do more so they could have it for their homes. This was how drawing came back to me. I moved to Copenhagen and I have been drawing since. It is a need to me and I only draw when I have something to tell.

Leila: How significant to have a vision based on an experience. Your answer also resonates so much with my own life, I have been involved in some form of Art project continuously even since I can remember, maybe age 5 is my earliest recollection of drawing a portrait..  But my struggle with perfection has been a real one. Until I learned to mimic how imperfect everything around us was. Idealistically, we want perfection. Don’t we? At one point, my education in Art became more about techniques and not so much about mastering a work, and that did not carry much meaning. We all evolve in ways that allow us to breathe experience.. And there is beauty in that.
On a side note, I used to draw on paper cups, all the time, tissue was a favorite also..

Christiane: So true! This is such a hard lesson to me, which is why (I think) I keep telling it to myself through my work. I strive for perfection. I know I do, but I now this is the wrong way to go about. Perfection is in your technique mastering your way of working, but beauty is born in imperfection. When I was little I, when ever I had made a drawing I would ALWAYS go to my mom, show it to her and ask “is it done?”. My mom would ALWAYS tell me “I don’t know”. It made me so furious – why couldn’t she just tell me? She could draw and was much better than I was. I would sometimes be so mad that I would cry and then tear the drawing into pieces. Because, if she couldn’t tell me, I believed there must have been something wrong with it and it wouldn’t be perfect. When she finally said something, it was, “maybe you should look at it for a few days?” This upset me a lot. Having it laying around for some days wouldn’t help me – it would just stress me even more. So again,  I ended up destroying it.

Quite recently I told my mom about this. How I perceived her answers. We’ve never talked about this before. I asked her why she never gave me the answers, and then she told me “how would I know when your work was done?”. Even though this was a hard lesson for me as a kid, it taught me something.

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Leila:What are your main influences?

Christiane: I love the spanish/french artists in early 1900. Especially Matisse, Picasso and Derain. They all master proportions and they had the courage to play with different techniques and art forms. It all started with Picasso. I saw one of his works where he had portrayed his dog in one line. There was something about this one line that I had never seen before. It looked so easy and effortless. This was in 2010 as well. I tried to make all kinds of animals in one line. But mastering the technique was not as effortless as it looked. I am more confident and steady in my line, but I will be practicing forever. I have to state, that it is my belief, that to be inspired by great artists you can only be inspired by their techniques. I notice how they use their brush, how they compose their work, how they make use of forms etc. It is my own choice of art school.

Leila: I love that you mention Picasso and Matisse, there’s so much to say about their work. I do see the influence in your work, and also the uniqueness of it as a total different piece of Art. I do talk about derivative works and copies,  which at times is a sensitive subject in my personal life, since a derivative work, is not the same as a copy.  The challenge or the difference in this aspect is huge. A derivative work has life of it’s own, it has an author, and it is in itself is a total different creation.

I don’t have taste for copying an original idea or even signature.  We all are different, and I do hope people can find their own path when it comes to this subject.

Christiane: I agree. But sometimes the line is difficult to find. When you draw it will always be you who interpret something, whether it’s another work, feeling or object. You choose where you find your inspiration from. I see some people who have “taken up” (or what you say) my line and the way I work. I thought they were copying me, but now I know, that they too found something they were inspired from and are now trying to make it their own. Therefore it is also important for me to stress that to be a great artist you have to follow your intuition and walk the paths no one else has walked before. You should dare to be different.

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Leila: The idea of the completeness of your work can be simplified by that line you mention, it’s an absolute. I really love the work you have put into it and the life it has. Art can only be Art, if the Artist has found that life in it. Would you agree with that?

Christiane: I guess art is when you communicate something from your soul. Sometimes you don’t know what you are doing. I never know, but it shows itself through the work I create. Sometimes you don’t know you have found the life in it, but maybe others have seen it. It takes practice and its an ongoing journey where you keep learning.

Leila: I totally agree here.

What do you see yourself working on in the future? Any events you want to mention?

Christiane: This is the hardest question. I hope I will be doing what I love to do. I want to keep my curiosity and create beautiful things communicated through the values I have. I want to push myself and dare to be different. Evoke people in some sort of way. I am about to launch a label, for kids. I believe this is where the future is and we should learn them about imperfection and the true beauty of being different. I can’t reveal too much yet, but my purpose is to push the creativity out there. To set a new direction and not fall in the trap of being like everyone else. The label will be launched in the end of March.
In my personal work with my drawings I want to set up small exhibitions around the world. I want to start in NYC or Copenhagen and through collaborations create an event. I have no idea how this is done, but I hope I will have had one exhibition in 2016.


Photo credits Christiane Spangsberg