First off I have to admit that I had not expected to become as infatuated with this amazingly creative and eclectic city as much as I did in reality. I mean I heard that Berlin was a city that leaves you with your jaw to the floor but never did I expect to crave the place as much as I do now, having left it. By simply observing it all for a few days, I could feel the creative artist in me yearning to get stuck in to ideas and develop my creative thought process. How amazing is that? To visit a place that encourages and influences you to be creative and artistic. To think for yourself and act upon it. To step outside and engage with the community that surrounds you, and to make things with your bare hands! It impressed me with its stylish characteristics. It is rugged and raw which was a pleasant surprise, rather than your typical emphasism on technological development, Berlin has style. Instead of going to see a movie, it encourages you to create your own.
The most obvious characteristic of Berlin is the vibrant street art and graffiti. You can neither find a wall nor a light pole without evidence of art in some form decorated on to it. From well known graffiti artists and their trade marked designs scattered around the city, to anonymous artists simply spreading their message. There is an extremely wide range of art and design evident through the city from Former East (in particular) to West Berlin. Stencils and free hand drawings are beautifully sprayed across the city and the authorities are powerless to stop it. (1-0 to society!) Whether there is a historical, significant meaning behind the image or merely a sticker of abstract art, these expressions of art are evidence of how the city and its people have adapted to social and economic problems and I think it’s fantastic. They use art to unite the people of the city and express themselves freely (and oh so stylishly may I add). Bear in mind street art is still illegal and these artists are under immense pressure as to not get caught or prosecuted while personally designing the city. Pretty bad ass! Side note – look up train bombing, a mighty sport where the artists take things to the next level and graffiti a train in record time before the authorities shut them down. It’s a race against the clock that shows the extreme lengths these artists go to for the sake of getting their name out there. It is more than just a past time for them, it’s their passion.
Street art is only one example of the way people express themselves in Berlin. The city is full of artistic people as it is a canvas in itself. A place where you can freely experiment and develop your skills with encouragement and enthusiasm from your surroundings, rather than judgment and ridicule which is what we fear as human beings putting our work and opinion out there for everyone to see. There are many old factories and warehouses that housed booming businesses in the past, that are now occupied by artists and squatters around the city. After the economic crisis (something we can’t seem to escape anywhere) these buildings were emptied and forgotten. Rather than knock them, the people of Berlin decided to turn them into art houses, studios, workshops and creative spaces for everyone to enjoy. So you will find groups of people gathering in these buildings and working together to create something magical. This is what I love about Berlin so much. Everyone is so individual it’s impossible to feel self conscious walking down the street. Its just accepted and encouraged to be yourself no matter how strange and obscure that may be. In fact the more obscure the better!
A great advantage to having so many different creative people at your finger tips is that there is always something happening close by. From street performances and food fights (yes, the city has an annual food fight!) to theatres and workshops. There is something for everyone and you have no reason or excuse to be bored. The history of Berlin shaped its culture of today that is so rich and vibrant that you can feel the buzz from the atmosphere. For me being a visitor I only got a glimpse of what the city represents and from an outside perspective it amazed me. It left me thinking how I would experience it being “a Berliner” myself, and getting my claws stuck into the culture of Berlin. It’s not a place that you benefit from what it has to offer, it’s much better than that. It’s a place that benefits from what YOU have to offer. It encourages you to try new things, express yourself and connect with the people around you to create something beautiful. For this reason I will return without a doubt. Berlin is that push you need to publish that article, to sing that song in a crowd, and to show yourself for all your worth to the world.
Also, the food is pretty damn good.