Make Your Way In Berlin

I don’t know about you, but I frequently catch myself doubting my decision to move to Berlin. I was lured here by resounding assurances that I would be living in an art mecca teeming with cheap housing and a creative populace – the New York of the 80s, if you will. After months filled with botched attempts to secure housing and employment, not to mention innumerable daily misunderstandings with my new compatriots, my naïve excitement seems to be slowly dissolving into morose cynicism. I still love Berlin, but sometimes the feeling doesn’t seem mutual.

But wait – no need for a Xanax prescription yet! It turns out that I am not the only one who has experienced an uneasy transition to Berlin. Better yet, many Berlin-newcomers who initially faced similarly shaky starts have since found admirable successes in their respective fields. On November 2nd 2012 you will have the opportunity to meet such inspiring characters at the first-ever “Destination Berlin” at Betahaus. Organized by Alfaiataria, the event will unite three talented artists dabbling in design, typography, and art direction to share their Berlin story with you. Over a few beers, each will open up about why they were initially attracted to Berlin and what their subsequent frustrations and joys have been in this self-proclaimed European creative hub.

Moving on up

First you can learn from the story of Giuseppe Salerno, an Italian art director and calligrapher. After working for years in Madrid and southern Spain, he decided to call the much colder Berlin his new home. Having moved to Berlin from Texas, I can imagine the weather shock he must have experienced. However, I cannot relate to Giuseppe’s penchant for an art of the past: he and a friend use ink, tempera, feathers, and ruling pins to create hand-written fonts for their company Resistenza.es. Maybe I can give this dying art a shot on his new personal project Calligraphyinberlin.com, where you can practice calligraphy with daily lettering exercises. Giuseppe’s story also reminds me of the incessant inspirations daily life has to offer – he transformed the image of adorable Russian women with their heads covered to the Babushka font and a random chalkboard outside a Berlin coffee shop to the Dolce Caffe typeface.  

Kafkaesque Trials

Julia Sysmäläinen will also share her love-hate relationship with Berlin. A visual-designer with Finnish-Russian cultural background, she has won numerous awards for her typeface FF Mister K, which was inspired by the manuscripts of Franz Kafka. Although Kafka’s works are typically associated with nihilism and gloominess, his handwritten notebooks feature a lighter and more humorous facet of his personality. Julia digitalized his offbeat penmanship, and you can explore this development at her recently extended exhibition "Franz Kafka and Mister K" at Mota Italic Berlin.

Hopefully these perseverance tales of such impressive migrant artists will raise all of our spirits just as my first Berlin winter is about to set in. November 2nd is your chance to ask the artists at “Destination Berlin” any questions that come to mind, so don’t hold back—you might get some insider tips that will help you become Destination Berlin’s next success story.

  • Betahaus – “Destination Berlin” – Friday November 2nd 2012: 7 pm. Free event. RSVP here

Article by Patricia Restrepo