While Ray may not be so new to Brrrlin by now, he’s profiled in Neu in Berlin: “Street portraits of the Berlin movement”. Check it out here…
Neu in Berlin: Ray Mann, Moritzplatz
Cities lived – Sydney, Berlin
Profession – Musician (The Ray Mann Three), visual artist, media teacher
Passion – Music, cinema and chocolate
Time in Berlin – 4 years on and off. I first visited 10 years ago on a planned seven week backpacking trip that turned into a year all around Europe. Berlin was my last stop. I was broke, exhausted and convinced I had no more room either in my head or heart – until I landed in Berlin. Pretty instantly, I promised myself that someday I would return to stay and eventually years later I did.
When I first arrived in Berlin, I met a lot of creative people of different artistic disciplines doing unfamiliar things in unique spaces. Coming from a very regulated city, I found it all very exciting. Berlin felt like a city that still had some blank canvases – room for people to choose their corner and make out what they will. This was idea that attracted me to this city. Berlin today is very different from that city I met 10 years ago, but it presents no fewer challenges to me.
Best in Berlin – Berlin is a great place to experiment. There are spaces to try out different things and people here are open to things they haven’t seen before. It’s unique. The population of creative and expat communities is constantly shifting so every few months you will have a new audience to play with. There are a lot of artists here who are well-established elsewhere – the next person you meet might be a superstar somewhere else, or just be amazing but undiscovered. People seem more open to making new connections and collaborations. My theory is that, once you remove the possibility of making big money, the currency becomes other things – your interests or the energy and enthusiasm you can bring into a conversation or collaboration. In Berlin, a city of starving artists, the transactions are definitely different.
Bad in Berlin – The pressure of balancing between the almost prohibitive bureaucracy and all the interesting professional possibilities this city offers. Living here as an artist and a musician I have to operate within a lot of visa restrictions. Sometimes restrictions can be great for inspiration and productivity, but for basic survival they can be the very opposite.
Tip – I still feel like a happy tourist myself – constantly stumbling into new discoveries. Best recommendation I can give is: keep stumbling! Have random nights out, meet people; say ‘yes’ when they invite you to check something out, and great experiences may come out of it. Don’t let that become everything, but don’t forget to do it every now and again either.
If you move to Berlin as an artist, I’d suggest coming up with a project to keep yourself focused and get you through your first year. When I first arrived in Berlin, I met a few people who had already been here for a year. They’d come here to be artists, but they hadn’t really started anything on their own. By the end of that first year, they were broke, partied-out and bitter – and they blamed Berlin for it. I quickly discovered the people constantly creating their own projects avoided most of this. I had to learn to not treat this city as some magical gateway, but rather a great backdrop for creativity. There is a myth about Berlin that the city doesn’t automatically or even necessarily live up to. At the end of the day, I found it to be a place where you can make of it what you will. It gets rough and lonely here, but that can be taken as a challenge, a test of focus. I had to get through that before things got really interesting – character-building, creativity, friendships, relationships. My ideas about myself and others changed; I learned things I couldn’t have in my comfort zone. By that point, it doesn’t really matter if where you are – you’re doing stuff!
More words from this guy on the Interviews page.