June 5, 2024

A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to stumble across an inspiring community of creative people. People from a wide range of artistic fields come together there to support each other and exchange ideas. The different perspectives on often similar problems broadened my own view. This gave me the idea to start a series of interviews.

In the interviews, we hear from some really talented people, from newcomers to experienced creatives. They talk about their passion for art, their creative processes, the challenges of their work and their personal stories – the art world through the eyes of those who shape it.

I am delighted that Nadine Achtelik has made herself available for the first interview. Nadine and I got to know each other through the community and I'm really pleased she's agreed to answer my questions.
Nadine is an amazing artist whose paintings have a meditative and contemplative effect on me. I really appreciate her work and look forward to learning more about her artistic perspectives.


What is your name?
My name is Nadine Achtelik.

Where do you live?
I live in Krefeld and have previously lived in several other regions of NRW/Germany.

What kind of art/creativity do you mainly do? (Painting, sculpture, photography, digital design, etc.)
I specialize in painting and drawing.

Have you had any formal training, or are you self-taught?
Unfortunately, I have no formal artistic training. I learnt everything I know from books, courses (online and offline) and experimentation.

Where can people see your work? Do you have a website or social media profiles you would like to share?
Currently, some of my work can be seen on Balthasart (soon on Singulart) and Instagram.

I also have my own, very basic website. I'll show a wider range of work there, which will give a bit of an idea of what I've been up to over the last few years. I'll also show some pieces that I don't currently sell. 

Die Künstlerin Nadine Achtelik

*Header: Voyage | Nadine Achtelik - Acryl auf Leinwand (80x80)

You are creative. Why?

How did you get into art? Where did your creative journey begin?

Music, which is also part of the creative field, has been with me since childhood. I learnt to play the keyboard from an early age, and much later tried out drums and a little bit of guitar and bass. But the keys have always been my main instrument. In addition to years in the school band, I later also played in a small rock band, in which we wrote the songs ourselves. Due to my job-related relocation, I had to stop playing. Unfortunately, music is now only a side issue. The time available is limited.

To balance out my day-to-day work, I eventually ended up with photography, which was my great passion for a few years. Today it's more of a support and holiday activity.

I only discovered painting and drawing late in life. So I can't claim to have been born with an artistic streak or to have always enjoyed painting, as is often said. Back in 2010, I had massive health problems and was looking for a way to do something creative that was still possible despite severe pain. My interest was awakened, I enjoyed it, and I kept at it more or less intensively for some time. In between, I usually didn't have enough time for it alongside my day-to-day work. A few years later, there was another very challenging period in terms of health, during which painting proved to be a helpful balance, and I've stuck with it ever since and learnt a lot. About painting and about myself through painting. Not necessarily through the results, but through the creation process itself. Painting has something very therapeutic or meditative about it that I could hardly describe in words. Painting is now a very big part of my life, and I wouldn't want to be without it.

I love trying out new things every now and then and also find many other areas of creative work exciting (wood, concrete, air-drying modelling clay, resin). I like to make my own decorations and greetings cards when time allows.

But everything apart from painting is just a hobby and a gimmick.

Flow - Tusche auf Aquarellpapier (A3) | Ink on watercolour paper

What inspires you?

I can't really pinpoint what inspires me. It could be anything. Moods, emotions, events, impressions of nature, patterns and structures, as well as small details that I come across that I might easily overlook, other works of art such as pictures, music, texts or simply the need to paint.

Are there certain artists or styles that influence you?

You are certainly always influenced in some way by what you consume and what perhaps appeals to you particularly strongly. But I wouldn't be able to name someone in particular, or a particular style, that has a significant influence on my own work or would be a role model for my work or a direction in which I would want to develop. I would have the feeling that it could come across as if I wanted to compare myself to these people in some way or presume to be comparable to them. That would not be my place.

There are so many great artists of all different genres out there. Fortunately, we live in a time in which we have the opportunity to view and admire an almost infinite number of works by a wide variety of people, from a wide variety of backgrounds, from the past or the present. And this at virtually any time. Each style has its own character and its own beauty, each artist his or her own signature style. I enjoy watching art reports and reading books about art and art history, and I have already collected the odd illustrated book. But I'm always discovering artists I didn't even know and whose work inspires me.

If you were to ask me which greats of art I personally like to look at again and again and would like to hear some names from me, then I could name the drawings and sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, for example, which fascinate me very much. I really like many works by Georgia O'Keefe, Hilma af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky or Yayoi Kusama. But I also really like dark, fantastical works, such as those by H.R. Giger. Those are the main ones that come to mind spontaneously. But I also come across a lot of great artists on social networks, for example. I always find it nice to have a look around their websites and find out more about these people.

Marks in Motion 4 - Acryltusche auf Aquarellpapier (A3) | Ink on watercolour paper

What does your creative process look like?

What are your favourite materials and tools to use and why?

Sometimes I have a relatively concrete plan, an idea or a rough concept that I want to realize. I usually start directly on the canvas or on paper. I'm increasingly trying to create small ‘thumbnails’ beforehand to go through a few alternatives in terms of composition and colour combinations. However, this hasn't really become established yet.

Sometimes I just start and something develops from there. It varies from time to time.

I started with acrylic paints and still use them most of the time. I also like to use different textured materials. These can be textured pastes, plaster or plaster bandages, sand, pieces of paper or various fabrics. There are so many things I still have in mind and want to try out.

In the last two or three years, after a long start-up period, I've become friends with watercolours and use them more and more.

I'm a big fan of acrylic ink. I've recently created a few works on paper that could best be described as meditation with a brush. I'm really enjoying it at the moment.

I also enjoy drawing and painting with various fineliners, ink pens, charcoal, pencils and coloured pencils. But these are things that I still rarely or never show. Maybe that will change at some point.

What I don't like at all is working with pastels. I've tried it several times and I just don't warm to it.

I'm also very interested in oil colours. But I'm still having difficulties with that at the moment. Acrylic paints are a bit easier for me to handle. I'm also trying to familiarize myself with the subject of landscape painting. My aim is to paint one or two beautiful holiday photos in such a way that I'm happy with them.

As far as tools are concerned, I don't have a direct favourite. Here, too, I try out a lot and tend to misuse things from the kitchen or DIY store if I think they might work well for structures.

One thing I couldn't do without is the ordinary hairdryer. Simply because I have very little patience to wait until a layer has dried and I can finally continue working.

Is there a particular project or work that is important to you?

The last ink drawings I did became very important to me. Everything I called Marks in Motion and the similarly detailed works that followed. On the one hand, because of the process of putting together the many small forms in 'painstaking' detail, and because I can relax incredibly well during this detailed work, whereas I would otherwise lose my patience quite quickly. On the other hand, it's something you don't see too often. I don't want to judge whether it's original in any way or whether it's even art. But I find it very appealing.

Marks in Motion - Tusche auf Aquarellpapier (A3) | Ink on watercolour paper

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an artist?

There have been two very big challenges for me. One was to show my work in public at all. Who am I to show or even offer my work - in a world where there are already so many really great artists? Who cares, and is it good enough? I would tell others that they have every right to show their work and that there will always be someone who will appreciate it. So why not do it?

The second big challenge is the legal and organizational requirements that need to be met before you can even start to show and offer your work. It's quite a nerve-wracking, time-consuming area with many, many pitfalls. Unfortunately, I have no choice but to deal with it.

How important is it for you to connect and interact with other artists and creatives?

I'm actually a very introverted person and painting in particular allows me to work independently on my own. Until recently I was only a consumer of other creative people (courses, videos, books). Of course, you only see the result, which is presented in a certain way like any other product. You don't get to know the person behind it.

So far I haven't necessarily felt the need to join any working groups or associations along these lines. I could imagine that artists' associations, for example, are not particularly open to self-taught artists per se.

Since I started showing my paintings in public, my attitude has changed more and more. It's a bit easier to talk to people and maybe exchange ideas here and there. However, I often get the feeling that you are quickly dismissed, either because of reservations about self-taught artists, competitive thinking or general unfriendliness.

However, connecting and interacting with others is actually more important and valuable than I previously thought. Sometimes a quick chat and sharing of experiences helps more than any book or course.

I'm sure there are many ways to network with other creatives, but if I may advertise a little...

The Kreativ-Community on Skool has really changed my attitude to the subject. I was a bit sceptical at first, but in a very short time I've met a lot of great, open-minded and friendly creative people. It's great to be able to discuss different topics on a completely different level. I also find it very enriching that so many different industries are represented. Creative professionals often face very similar challenges. And a network like this has really been missing. It's great to have a place where you get a sense of community. You can share experiences, get good advice or learn about different ways of looking at things and take away new ideas. Even though everyone has a different focus and is at different stages of their career, you are not in competition with each other, but on an equal footing. You're not competing or trying to sell each other something. It's not a one-way communication. You can be criticized if you want. But only constructively, objectively and empathetically, not on a 'social media level'. Of course, you can also just talk to each other or be inspired by what others are doing. The community is very well run. You don't have people who just stumble into the comments section like on social media to rant and rave, vent their frustration or misbehave to their heart's content. Some of the contacts you make there already have an impact beyond the community.

What does art mean to you? What role does it play in your life?

The question is not so easy to answer without perhaps clashing with formal definitions of what can be considered art at all, or at what point a person can be considered an artist. As a layman, I can take the easy way out and say that, in principle, anything that goes beyond mere functionality and very direct information could be art.

Art is as diverse as the people who create it and the people who perceive and interpret it. The main areas of art that I regularly come into contact with as a recipient are certainly music, literature, film, painting and photography. I couldn't imagine a life without music, books and films, or without pictures. In this respect, art plays a big role for me personally. For me, art can simply be aesthetic, entertaining or thought-provoking, it can convey or trigger emotions, it can also convey information on several levels that are not immediately apparent, but only when we engage with the work. It can be critical, provocative and much more. And it leaves more or less room for personal interpretation.

On the other hand, if I could describe my painting as art and myself as an artist, although this is certainly debatable, it has also come to play a major role in my life. It is more than just a pastime for me, it is a way of expressing myself, of processing thoughts and impressions, of realizing ideas without having to explain myself explicitly in words. Perhaps I often can't and don't want to put into words what I was thinking when I saw a particular painting. I also often find it much more interesting what a viewer sees in it. Painting also gives me a chance to switch off or meditate. I once wrote in an online profile that painting is my favourite meditation technique. That may sound a bit pompous, but it gets to the heart of the matter.

Rusty - Acryl auf Leinwand (40x50) | Acrylic on canvas

What do you think is the role of art in society?

What role do artists play within society?

Art has always been and always will be important to people. Whether for purely aesthetic or entertaining purposes, as a therapeutic element, as a means of personal expression or even beyond that with an intended external effect. On the one hand, it reflects the social issues of its time. On the other hand, art can influence society by providing new impulses, raising awareness of grievances or criticizing in some way, to name but a few. It is precisely in the latter cases that art is particularly important, because it encourages people to engage in dialogue, to think and reflect and, if necessary, to take action.

As for the second question, I wonder whether artists should necessarily have such a mission. Apart from the basic task of being active at all, which they have set for themselves. In the academic field, this question might be answered in the affirmative, and a distinction might be made whether someone really belongs to the circle of artists or not.

I think it depends more on what you want to achieve. You choose your own task. Do I want to make art because I feel the need to express myself but don't have any further expectations of an audience, do I make art with the aim of selling it to someone who likes it, or do I perhaps make art with the intention of having an effect on the viewer and in the best case - as mentioned above - wanting to have an influence on society. That is a relatively wide range and I think all forms are legitimate.

However, the last aspect in particular is certainly of particular social significance, as described in relation to the role of art.

Flow 2 - Nadine Achtelik

Which topics are important to you?

Is there a theme or a message that you want to convey in your art?

Personally, I am preoccupied with a lot of things. I have a very pensive disposition. For example, we live in a time when we all have a lot of objective data at our disposal, but this data is not analysed collectively in a sober manner, but rather interpreted according to personal opinions and agendas as it suits us. This is why, for example, there is too little targeted action on climate change and biodiversity. We find a thousand reasons to maintain as much of the status quo as possible, or to make even more profit. The motives are many and varied. Meanwhile, we hope that the next foreseeable catastrophe will not happen, or if it does, at least not too close to it.

I don't want to get into other social and political issues. But I am increasingly concerned.

As far as my paintings are concerned, however, I am still a long way from explicitly incorporating these kinds of thoughts into my work, wanting to attach a message to them, or ascribing a specific mission to myself.

If I could manage to convey something calm, meditative or relaxing for a short time with my current paintings, that would make me very happy.

Thank you so much, Nadine, for taking the time to answer my questions!

I want to hear your story

Were Nadine's answers as inspiring to you as they were to me?
If you would like to answer my questions and be interviewed by me, please get in touch!
I would love to hear your story.

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About the Author Lea Finke

Lea Finke is an artist with all her soul. In her blog, she talks about inspiration, passion, and encounters with art.

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