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How I Started: My story, Chapter 1

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

The beginning, grinding through institutions


Hello and warm welcome to everyone who reads this!

As the first post on my Blog/Newsletter I decided to organically start from the roots, tell a bit about myself, why I am here, what my purpose is, and what I believe I can bring to the table for other fellow humans.

I want to have this Newsletter to connect with other creative people and maybe help someone feel like they’re not alone in their search, overthinking, getting lost. There was a lot of hesitation at first, all standard doubts: ‘who will wanna read this’, ‘everyone’s telling stories now’, ‘why is this interesting’…………you know that headspace. But, even if one person reads this and finds helpful, I’ll be super happy. And, it helps me structure my reflections and…overthinking.

Before I start I would like to take a step aside and vocalise that whatever I share here is purely my personal experience of this world. I am fully aware of its incredibly limited nature and that most statements I am about to make are deeply subjective. I am writing this blog to start conversations with people as much as to leave my stories here for whoever finds them useful or at best entertaining. Please, feel free to comment, bring in some critiques and share your experience!

So, without further delay, let’s do this :)

Chapter One

My name is Sasha Krautman, I am a somewhat self-taught artist. Somewhat, because I’ve had several years of art studies and a couple of diplomas lying somewhere back at home in dusty boxes. Why do I still call myself self taught? The most simple reason in my opinion is that nobody taught me to do what I am doing now. Quite the opposite - I was always tutored and corrected to be what the classical education system sets you up to be. It makes you believe that getting closer to the “norm” is the true indicator of success. That definition of success has been written down in stone decades before you even have a chance to determine your own. From earliest years in kindergarten up until University graduation students are not only discouraged to plant a seed of doubt, ask questions, experiment and invent, but get punished with marks, disrespect from those teaching, which in some cases ends up with funding cuts and other unfortunate and unfair events. This results into something much deeper than just being upset about low marks. I believe it sets people up for life to fear mistakes. We’re scared to death to say or do something that can potentially sway the waters around. Scared to try, god forbid to fail. And so it seems like most of us chose the path of narrow comfort. Or, what me and my partner called it in a recent conversation, “Lo-Fi life”. Everyone knows what “Lo-Fi” is in the popular culture, I believe, so you get the point. Again, this is the picture I have from my own limited experience. I’d love to be proved wrong.

So there I was, 5 years of art school to 4 years of University - being taught to draw, paint a certain way, find certain meaning in art, literature, poetry, history… you name it. I don’t feel like I was ever encouraged to find my own perception of beauty and meaning of things, I was told what it is, no space for discussion set aside.

Nevertheless, it’s not fair to blame my passive attitude and lack of achievements on “the system”. I should take into account my own personality and mention that I am naturally a very adaptable person. Since discovering it not so long ago, I am constantly working on it and trying to be conscious and assertive. Back in school years I had no awareness around it whatsoever, just allowing swampy waters of the educational system to drag me along with them, peacefully, obediently, no questions asked. I saw it as authority and blindly trusted whatever they had to say. I assumed my bad luck was only due to not trying well enough to get to “the norm”. Years after I could finally see the whole picture: first, I was miserably disconnected from myself and had no idea what is me and what ‘me’ wants, and secondly, despite that, I was still rebelling, because deep inside I could feel this is not sitting well with me. Without any better option on my hands, I rebelled by doing nothing instead of following their way. Unfortunately, I didn’t know any better, which would be the path of action and search, and I guess there weren’t many in my social circle who could be an example of stepping out of the box. Get your diploma, find work, and all the well known steps after. Art teachers also weren’t the best inspirers, I doubt they had any interest in helping us find individual success.

During the years spent in rigid walls of educational structures my creativity still had its way to come out. I always loved drawing and did well in art school. It gave me an opportunity to try the majority of main mediums, and I naturally leaned towards graphic materials (even though still to this day I haven’t given up the idea to tame paints one day - I never felt like I understood them). Then life did its job bringing random circumstances together in most mysterious ways. One of my cousins gave me an album of high quality professional drawing paper, which then spent months forgotten in my desk until one day, scrolling through Ebay, I spent big money for me at that time on a box of 48 Faber-Castell pencils. I don’t remember what was driving me. Soon after my desired package was delivered, I took out that album, cut a piece of about A5 size, and drew a face of some actor.

Looking at the finished piece I felt like I've found something special. From then on more and more portraits were made, fortunately I didn’t lack people that inspired me one or the other way.

At some point this ‘hobby’ (god, I hate this word, I’m hoping to write another piece about it one day) even had a chance to bring me a small income, which was quite significant for a student. Thanks to a good friend of mine whose YouTube career was successfully taking off, my Instagram page got some attention from her followers, and I would get requests for a portrait here and there. Funny thing, I never grew to like commission work. I’m not a fan of ‘realism’, and there is too much responsibility to make sure the person looks exactly like their picture. I’m very grateful to have tried, to have realised it’s still ‘work’ for me, and that I want an absolute freedom in making art.

Every now and then I would recognise, not without a pinch of sadness, the fact that I’m not creating anything new by just copying faces from photographs. Yet I didn’t feel confident to tell my own stories yet, not knowing what they are and how to get them out. The growth of my drawing skill from each piece of paper I covered with pencil strokes was reassuring enough to keep going. The dream to gather enough courage and make an original artwork never left me.

One of the attempts brought me more self belief. A vision of a little blond haired boy had been hunting my imagination for a while until I brought him to life on paper. A nice breath of freedom entered my reality, it felt new and refreshing. I had created something that didn't exist before!

Yet back then it was just a rare exception. There were many years of practice and search ahead of me. It never ends, we never really ‘arrive’. But we go through major points of shift in our lives, and the most painful ones takes us the furthest.

I will continue my story in the next chapter and tell you about one of those life changing shifts.


Thank you for taking your time to read ♥

Please feel free to reach out and comment.

Love, Sasha

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