When you’ve met someone for the very first time and you learn that they’re an artist, what preconceived notions instantly pop into your head?
“They’re probably a little disorganized?” Hmm…no comment.
“Deadlines. What are deadlines?” Hey heyyyy…let’s be nice.
“Maybe their financial situation looks a little dicey?” Okay, fair enough – we’ve definitely heard that one before.
Well, allow us to introduce you to Andreas Claussen, who shatters quite a few of the generally negative stereotypes that plague creatives. The success that he currently enjoys just five years into his professional painting journey is the result of creating and adhering to a very structured plan of action. Pardonnez-moi? You can actually do that – approach a right-brained pursuit with left-brained business acumen? Well, it’s definitely been working for Andreas, so…sure, why not?
Maybe my art is for people who like to think and talk about climate change. Some may even feel inspired to take action and feel optimistic that it will help, which would be a happy bonus – I would love to hear those stories.
A great deal of mystique surrounds the art world, doesn’t it? So many rules to follow, soo many gatekeepers, soooo many hurdles to jump…sooooo…um…why even bother? Well, psst…you want the real truth? The all-seeing, all-knowing sentries who we presume have the power to make or break art careers are merely just a dream-crushing figment of our collective imaginations. What’s worth deeper contemplation is determining the lengths that you’re willing to go to make your art dreams a reality. We’re sharing Andreas Claussen’s story today because, as he so matter-of-factly states, “I always believed that there is no reason why I can’t when others can.” Very interesting perspective…let’s explore this at further length.
You’re probably hoping for a few revelatory details about the German oil painter’s lifelong dreams of being an artist. Shall we begin with the time that he created an astonishingly hyperrealistic portrait of Zippy, his family’s beloved pet squirrel, using artfully applied pureed squash and mashed peas atop his kitchen table canvas? That jaw-dropping feat at just two years of age caused both of his stunned parents to be struck with twin hiccupping bouts that persisted for approximately four days! Oh, uhh…apologies for bursting your idealized artistic virtuoso bubble, but that’s not even remotely how Andreas Claussen’s origin story begins.
Apart from his graphic designer mother, the Claussens have largely engaged in life pursuits that have remained outside of the sphere of art. In fact, in Andreas’ early 20s, he expected that he’d become an attorney! Art, he recalls, was never really a significant part of his upbringing. Like most children who are fond of visually expressing themselves before school systems urge them to shift over into more ‘serious pursuits’, he certainly enjoyed creative activities but admits that his “art skills were good…never extraordinary.”
I’m glad that I moved from subject to subject, experimenting, failing, winning, but not caring about consistency at all. I was a style chameleon for some time, but – in the process of my experimentation – I learned a ton about painting.
Nonetheless, there is one little factoid that hints at the path that he’s currently walking – his long-standing affection for visual imagery and entertainment such as movies, comics, computer games, not just as a consumer, but also as a creator. In his free time, Andreas regularly engaged in numerous creative activities, including “filming, photographing, creating my own video games, building marquettes, graffiti, drawing, and painting”. This is the point, however, where his story strays from the predictable I’ve always known that I was going to be an artist blueprint. “Art was always there for me”, he confesses, “but I never felt that I had to do it now or I’d miss the art train forever”.
Feeling somewhat “unsure about a creative career”, Andreas decided in his second decade of life to study law, a choice that was reinforced upon seeing Aaron Sorkin’s compelling courtroom drama, A Few Good Men. Alas, what he experienced in the classroom was a far cry from Hollywood’s glossy, endlessly riveting ‘you can’t hannnnndle the truth’ depiction. During two long years of lectures that failed to maintain his steadfast interest, drawing ended up becoming his coping mechanism – and perhaps his lifeline at the time – a daily ritual that he’s since engaged in for over a decade. That classroom epiphany is why Andreas entirely shifted his focus toward how he could turn art into a financially lucrative livelihood.
Many creatives fail to realize that possessing artistic ability is just as critical to one’s success as donning a business hat. Like many others who are eager to carve out a path for themselves as a working artist, Andreas acquired his foundational knowledge through books, videos, formal workshops, and endless experimentation. At the same time, however, he began to address the practical aspects of building a viable art career. Rather than getting bogged down by many of the common concerns that prevent creatives from keeping their eye on the prize – such as obsessing about flawless skills or questioning whether his aesthetic was distinctive enough – Andreas very pragmatically chose to focus more on “interest and work ethic”.
It’s great if my art helps some people enjoy a wonderful laugh about something dark, which will possibly make it all a bit more bearable.
Before we highlight the specifics of his shrewd entrepreneurial approach, we will state for the record that – on some level – we’re all in love with the idea of creating legacy-defining, earthquake-triggering work. There’s just one small inconvenience that tends to rain on our romanticized creativity parade. Most of us have significant financial responsibilities requiring that we secure a reliable and sustainable source of income. Many of the old masters had the luxury of manifesting awe-inspiring art thanks to the financial support of their benefactors, whereas – generally speaking – 21st century artists must make practical business decisions to ensure that their creative output will support their lifestyle as well as their personal fulfillment.
Despite popular belief, you don’t have to bleed your soul dry in order to produce aesthetically pleasing art with intriguing subtext. You can even streamline the amount of time that you devote to a single painting without compromising its quality. Andreas Claussen produces texturally inviting imagery “without noteworthy energy and time restrictions” by delegating all of the tasks that compromise his “active painting time”, yet don’t necessarily require his artistic expertise – such as varnishing – to others. Consequently, he uses that extra wiggle room in his schedule to generate inspired ideas that can be executed in innovative new ways, ultimately propelling his brand forward.
I always believed that there is no reason why I can’t when others can.
Creatives who don an entrepreneurial hat understand that prioritizing the desires of their audience over aesthetic risk-taking is a key aspect of ensuring that their art business reliably covers their monthly expenses.
Andreas elaborates: “Being a professional does not mean being truly authentic (always doing what you want). People don’t pay for authenticity. They pay for consistency.” By creating slightly different iterations of the well-received art that your fanbase has come to appreciate – particularly over a long period of time – he believes that artists can gain the trust of buyers. In essence, that demonstrates mastery of one’s medium, genre, etc. “And trust is fucking important if you want people’s money (hahaha)….ehhhm….want to lead a cult ….ehmmm….want to make a living as an artist,” Andreas quips. While experimentation is the basis of his art, when it comes to unveiling each new painting, he feels that it’s not advisable to surprise fans with radical shifts in aesthetic.
Andreas Claussen’s regimented business sense certainly extends to the deep thought that he’s given to the lonely astronauts that inhabit his ongoing Flood series, who are so much more than just a perennially popular contemporary art icon. The darkly humorous scenarios that he dreams up, featuring “extreme explorers who are crazy enough to sit on tons of explosive shit in order the leave planet Earth”, are emblematic of the insatiable curiosity and omnipresent desire of our species to reach ever-greater heights of achievement and knowledge. His space travelers “who experience the never-ending adventure of life” are a potent reminder that “we should never stop falling, imagining, and trying again because exploring means making mistakes but moving forward anyway.”
Art was always there for me but I never felt that I had to do it now or I’d miss the art train forever.
As it turns out, the pivotal figures in Andreas’ vibrant cli-fi paintings are an unwitting metaphor for the values, dedicated work ethic, and adventurous spirit that makes his art practice so distinctively enterprising. At the very beginning of his artrepreneurial endeavor, the self-described thinker, planner, puzzler, and innovator boldly moved “from subject to subject, experimenting, failing, winning, but not caring about consistency at all. I thought about myself as style chameleon for some time”. Working in so many diverse mediums and aesthetics – including a prolonged period in which he even manifested brooding seascapes – really helped him to discover what resonated with him.
“I’m glad that I tried so many different things because, in the process of my experimentation, I learned a ton about painting” – especially about mastering textures! – plus he realized just how much he loved to conjure fairly dark narratives.
Environmentally speaking, Andreas’ abstract-realism-sci-fi-post-apocalyptic-popartism isn’t about cajoling the beholder into suddenly hugging a bunch of trees. He hopes that everyone will “take what they need” from his art – amusement, inspiration, hope – it’s all fair game. While it may seem as though his “half glass empty art” is born out of an underlying doom and gloom message, he asserts (rather optimistically!) that he never forgets what he’s already sipped. He consciously and artistically wants to support humanity’s “biggest entrepreneurial adventure ever…to save the planet” by manifesting multi layered narratives that raise deeper questions within the mind of the beholder.
Building the trust of your audience by producing consistent work is fucking important if you want to make a living as an artist.
Undeniably, the painter enjoys the challenge of “gambling with darkness” while searching for beauty in strangely funny and unexpected places. As much as any artist wants “to create work that is captivating and looks cool”, Andreas’ deeper hope is “to inspire the beholder to look around, wonder, raise questions, and start meaningful discussions with themselves and others”. Like the many celestial travelers whose daring explorations of brave new frontiers are partially motivated by hope, the German artist considers the larger impact of his art: “Maybe my art is for people who like to think and talk about climate change. Some may even feel inspired to take action and feel optimistic that it will help, which would be a happy bonus – I would love to hear those stories. But it is also great if my art helps some people enjoy a wonderful laugh about something dark, which will possibly make it all a bit more bearable.”