Archives for posts with tag: Berlin

So after some real hard work you’ve got a client assignment practically finished, which makes you all ready to go and kick off your own long time wanted project.

(hover over the pictures to read the English translation)
slice of life freelancer comic 01 finished project
Moving on feels energizing until a sudden flush of rain and bad news brings your journey to a sudden stop amidst the city: pretty quickly, ‘practically finished’ snaps back into ‘work in progress’.

slice of life freelancer comic 02 bad news endless project
While you’re still trying to figure out how to make time for a revision you’re not even sure to agree with, something else grabs your attention.

slice of life freelancer comic 03 still digesting bad news change arises
Tomorrows Ghostwriter episode: “Embrace the Unexpected”

Note: I’m at the Leipzig Book Fair starting tomorrow, to present my freshly released “Ghostwriter” book print. If you are there, come to my stand MK251 and say hello <3.

Most answers to our crucial questions dwell somewhere inside, we just need to harvest them.

Visual Harvesting Methods

Harvesting thoughts with a pen is rewarding in many ways, because it makes insights rise, shine and last with ease like no other method.

To the visual thinking crowd in Berlin: If you’re curious to try out visual harvesting methods that fit into a flip chart, today’s the opportunity to do so @ the Vizthink Meetup at Neukölln’s Kulturlabor Trial&Error.

For those of you who want to use visual tools in order to make your most desired change & impact happen, the next Visual Tribe’s workshop on May, 7th will help you to thrive doing that.

While some were right about Tokyo becoming a precious place to me, most were wrong about the specific reasons. The supposed heaven for manga freaks did nothing but make me go away. Ikebukuro was different.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga Ikebukuro chameleon cat
It’s not one of the famed neighborhoods, and from what I’ve heard it’s not all too well seen, with its subcultures and rough atmosphere.

If the chameleon cat I met there needed a name, I’d probably call it Makoto. You don’t need to watch the related dorama to agree: feisty cat or delinquent fella, whoever deeply loves his hometown is truly entitled to shout out this feeling… Ikebukuro is the best, 池袋最高! (tbc)

*Ikebukuro West Gate Park is one of the best TV series I’ve ever seen, it unites everything I like: from urban Hip Hop subculture to a charming delinquent neighborhood with its stupid-handsome heroes. I’m seriously thinking about translating this kind of story to the setting of Berlin. Somehow, sometime.*

From the places I’ve seen in Tokyo, this neighborhood made me think most of a “Kiez”, which in Berlin doesn’t only mean the area where you live, but the places and corners where you feel at home.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga distant yet familiar shimokitazawa
Laid-back atmospheres are contagious. If the cozy dinner chitchat in episode 12 made me think I should come  back to Japan, Shimokita helped me to figure out where I’d first search for a place to stay. (tbc)

*For German-speaking readers: the SPIEGEL article that called my attention in 2010 points out some more parallels between Shimokitazawa and similar areas in Berlin.*

More than a look at the few remnants of today’s Berlin Wall, a certain documentary film evokes the spirit of change linked to that symbol of separation. Jürgen Böttcher’s documentary “Die Mauer” has captured the immediate aftermath of the peaceful German revolution in 1989 around the wall. His aesthetic brilliance adds to a discrete narration: while the filmmaker’s voice remains mostly silent, his attentive glance tells so much about moments between (almost comical) uncertainty and newly gained freedom. The pensive style of the filmic narration leaves space for thoughts. As the camera scanned the length of the wall stretching and disappearing into the nightly dark, my very own remembrances of an East Berlin childhood gradually welled up.

berlin wall thoughts documentary die mauer juergen boettcher

Glancing at this concrete wall provokes so different feelings in all of us who were separated by it. Arisen from villages, this city’s vastness makes it hard to gather and feel close to each other. A look around sometimes reminds you of how small we really are.

I saw the screening of “Die Mauer” at the Berlinale film festival in 2006, when Jürgen Böttcher was awarded with the Berlinale Filmkamera. It was this film that sparked my interest in documentaries in general. Ever since, the documentary section proved to be one of my favorites at the Berlinale.

If films crystallize our dreams, good documentaries have the power to remind us of what dreams truly are: sparkles of personal experience, mixed in with hints of our secret fears and wishful thinking.

Seeing “Die Mauer” has made me realize just how much of a dream came true for me when this hated piece of concrete came down.

When the place you inhabit becomes too narrow for your dreams, move out!”

… said the bird to the wanderer, so wander we did.

manga lucid global village bird and wanderer
When a journalist recently asked me to draw a manga sequence for a TV feature about two Japanese players from the Berlin based football club Hertha, it kinda made sense. I’m not that big of a football fan, but this year’s world cup saw me taking more interest in the game than usual. Starting with a first excitement about (the Chilean) outsiders who went for unexpected chances, eventually closing the chapter of former (Spanish) domination…

…I gradually went more emotional seeing the German soccer team making its way til the finals – and beyond. Around the games I found small hints of what I think really matters in a good teamwork: a kind of fair play and moving on together that transcends the sport context.

Three months later, the idea to use manga drawings for a TV feature on football came quite out of the blue. On the occasion of an away game, the rbb regional broadcasting station’s journalist Christian Dexne figured out an unconventional story hook: portraying two players of the local team who hadn’t really been in the spotlight yet, using a typical medium of their far away Japanese homeland.

Both Hajime Hosogai and Genki Haraguchi are relatively new in Berlin. Meant as an encouragement for them, this visualization project actually became a great motivation to me, as well.

After a friend had already filmed me drawing for a documentary project, this new experience gave me an even deeper look into the whole process of professional TV making. From first idea discussions to interviews, filmic execution, cutting and sound recording, I learned in a few days what has interested and bothered me for years now. How to plan a sequence of scenes, how to decide on what to cut away and what to keep in, how to synchronize the music with the visual content? Is the work of a sports journalist that different from mine as an urban researcher, when we skim our documentation material for decisive hints – for foul play on the football field, for signs of social appropriation in contested urban spaces?

We actually took chances. Before knowing how Hertha would play, we made a big fuss about how they were maybe going to win.

And they wouldn’t win, at first. The TV feature was broadcast shortly after Hertha lost a match against Schalke. One week later, though, our “motivational medicine” took effect:

Playing in Hamburg, Hajime Hosogai managed to realize what his comrade Genki Haraguchi had promised, enchanted, after seeing my manga depicting himself:

We’ll make these pictures come true.”

Sometimes, life is made of second chances. If being seen is what matters most today, then changing the script of how you’re perceived by others can be crucial. Switching from raw sketch…

manga illustration storyboard
…to final picture always ends up reinforcing my confidence and the will to experiment. Nowadays, I’m realizing things from a bucket list I haven’t even written yet. Teamwork has often been the key to realize the most difficult steps of worthwhile projects, and making it happen is what counts most.

I guess, I’m kind of a football fan, after all.

manga YOLO bucket list
*The colored pictures shown here were made last Saturday at this year’s AniMaCo. Inserting them here means checking another item from my unwritten bucket list: show more of your drawings at a faster pace, since you can do it.*

Stormy weather is approaching the city, yet in the metro I see a barefoot beauty with blonde dreads taking a seat in front of me.

Berlin barefoot metro beauty

This reminds me of a “Death Note” dialogue, where the always good looking, psychopathic main character named “Light” asks his opponent, the always messy, strange looking and sharp minded “L”, about the reason for his sloppy look (– a style so many watching and cosplaying fans grew fond of). I don’t remember the exact percentage, but L basically informs Light how significantly his thinking capacity diminishes when he forces himself to dress and behave “correctly”.

On the backside of my metro ticket I take a quick sketch note of barefoot beauty, phone stuck to the ear, legs crossed and slightly swinging to the rhythm of her conversation. Looks like I found my daily inspiration.

And the storm still keeps us waiting.

Gee, how I love Berlin, at times.

… on a sunny afternoon in Berlin, Wedding, I see reflections of light transforming the other side of the street.

sunny-afternoon_Berlin-Wedding_facade
This is when the charm of living in a neighborhood like mine becomes obvious to me.

sunny afternoon Berlin window beauty
You don’t need to share the tastes of your neighbors, it’s sufficient to watch. Every now and then, a smile will haunt the corners of your mouth, amazed by the odd diversity even a small urban radius can be made of.

When it comes to the the attention economy specific to Berlin, fashion is a key factor. People got their very own ways to create distinctiveness without exactly screaming for attention. In no other city have I seen its dwellers “inventing” themselves at less monetary costs and to more surprising effects. It’s a matter of re-contextualizing the most banal things in a fresh way. Just one example of a glimpse I caught lately, cycling my way through a western district of Berlin:

Berlin street fashion chic manga style
No matter what you wear, make it appear as the most normal thing, and the strangeness will stand out all the more. Put a typical mailman’s uniform on your weekend’s stroll through the neighborhood, visibly on no whatsoever mail delivery duty, and be sure to catch some glances in a city that is trained to ignore.

‘Where did she get that jacket?’ would I have asked myself, if my own urban journey hadn’t immediately taken me away, to the flow of further bizarre encounters. What exactly do I like about this city? At the sight of its notorious oddness, I have to keep wondering.