German artist Pixie Cold was raised in a creative environment. As a teenager her life took an unexpected turn when she found herself living on the streets of Berlin. Finding light in art, she worked her way through times of darkness and into a place of joy and thankfulness. We sat down with her for a chat about life’s most valuable lessons and the mysterious rainbow renaissance of the 21st century.
Hello Svenja, what’s your favourite drink at Happy Hour?
My go-to drink is an alcohol-free Mojito. I love the combo of lime and mint, and I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet things.
You are a true Berliner, a rare breed. What parts of the city do you love most?
Yes it’s true, I’m a Berliner born and raised - I’ve even been told that we’re an endangered species. I love everything in and about this city. I guess I’d have to say I’m most drawn to its beautiful nature and countless parks. I live directly across from Plänterwald [a forest in Treptow-Köpenick] so I spend quite a bit of time there. Sometimes I take my sketchbook with me and just spend the afternoon lying on a blanket drawing...there’s nothing more wonderful!
Art has been present in your family for generations. Did you always want to be an artist or did you have different ambitions when you were growing up?
I’d never have become this creative if it hadn't been for my mother. She equipped us with pencils and paper before we were even old enough to speak. It was important to her that we had the tools to try our hand at new things. I doubt she foresaw that both my brother and I would grow up to become successful artists. Today she’s thrilled that her creative seedlings grew into fruit-bearing trees.
My grandparents were also painters. I do believe that in my family creativity has been passed down from generation to generation. Each of my five siblings plays an instrument and most of them are self-taught. I actually failed miserably in that department, which I do sometimes regret. But even if I were able to play an instrument, I wouldn't have the time.
You spent some time living on the streets, rebelling against political failings. How did you end up in this situation, and how do you look back on this time of your life?
This was actually more of a crazed teenage rebellion. I’m not sure what drove me to certain decisions in my pubescent years. But I do know I had to free myself from everything I had before I was able to understand the true meaning of freedom. Sadly, I had to live through some pretty bad experiences during my time on the streets. I guess in a way I’m thankful that they did, because that’s what motivated me to do something with my life, to find myself. Sometimes you have to walk into the darkest of shadows in order to be able to recognise that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. And that’s when you’ll learn to be truly thankful. I’m very happy that I turned my life around and completely content in the place I’m in today.
How did your time on the streets change or affect you?
I learnt to appreciate the simple things in life (e.g. toast, toothpaste, a clean toilet). I came to recognise that true freedom in life is when you have the means to pay for your own food, and not beg for it. It taught me to look behind every facade. I met a lot of beautiful people, who had nothing and shared everything. It’s crazy what types of individuals are fighting for their lives out there. And hard to imagine how many young people suddenly find themselves completely alone. I hope that someday I’ll have the means to help people who would like to find a way off the streets. Who knows how many undiscovered artists are out there?
You work with bright, vibrant colours yet all your paintings also have an element of mystery. How would you describe your style?
I never really spent too much time thinking about art history. Let’s call my style: the mysterious rainbow renaissance of the 21st century.
Who or what inspires you and why?
First off, nature has so much to offer. But I’m also inspired by a lot of contemporary artists. I love looking at what other artists are doing, and trying to understand their techniques. Sometimes, thanks to Instagram, this takes up to 3-4 hours out of my day.
Tell us a little bit more about your creative process. How do you get started on a new piece?
It’s pretty simple: ideas, sketches, outlines and colour it all in. I somehow always end up painting something entirely different to what I initially set out to create. Sometimes my paintings change several times within one process. I don’t really think about it, it just happens. This is precisely what I love about painting so much. If I’m waiting for one layer to dry, I just play around with apps on my phone and have a coffee till it’s try.
I love the life I’ve been given and I’m pretty sure I’d be completely incapable at doing any other kind of job. I like things to be relaxed. I don’t find myself inspired by huge amounts of stress. Music is also important to me. Not a day goes by sans my favourite YouTube channel.
What is your biggest dream in life?
I would love to own a little finca in Spain with olive trees and a view of a lake. That would be my dream come true. Sounds tacky, but life wouldn't be life without a little kitsch.
Animals or people?
Animals... People are so unpredictable. But then again, there are some people I really do love. Okay, maybe I’d have to say both after all.