Redecorating life into creations that tell a story




The following text consists of excerpts from my diary. It is, in a nutshell, my life's journey up until now. The journey already spans thousands of miles and countless experiences. But it all began with a look in the mirror. And the subsequent packing of one small suitcase.

Early years

As a child, daydreaming was my biggest hobby. I spent hours drifting around in the little world of my mind, traveling whole continents, seeking adventure. In those days, I already was a designer. With my strong will and free spirit I designed and played out fantastic scenes with my dolls. Some of these scenes would later form the fabric of my real life. Gladly did I share everything with my friends, so I was never alone. Then I started to draw. I painted endlessly. My notebooks were full of sketches. I felt that in a free and honest life, everything was possible.

In my teenage years, the child in me took the opportunity to develop itself on its own. I was always searching. What interests me? What touches me? By that time, the unstoppable urge to create was already very much alive within me.
That's why, at sixteen, I bought myself my first set of painting supplies. But while the creativity and the will were already there, it would take years before I had a clear idea of what exactly I was to do with this gift. My artistic skills are self-taught, but they wouldn't have matured if it wasn't for that very first set of painting supplies.

In the meantime, everyday life went on as I continued along the road of life. I finished high school. And then university. I had great time. Student life was fun, I had a boyfriend, and a good home life. I was always busy, busy, busy. But I was also programmed to just go with the flow of the system.

The mirror

Until, one day in the morning - I still clearly remember that day like it was only yesterday - I was combing my hair. Standing before the mirror, a moment of clarity took hold of me. I stared into my own eyes and thought: Is this all there is to my life? What's life all about anyway? I had made myself a beautiful framework, including all the material and luxury comforts one could ever need. But at the same time, I realized I was heading for a future without any outspoken purpose or a deep sense of responsibility to someone or something. I suddenly recognized I was consuming life, rather than be fulfilled with it. In that moment before the mirror, comb in hand, I made a decision. If I was to take a direction in life, I was a direction I had to consciously choose.

One month later, just after I woke up,
I was standing there again, before the 'mirror of confrontation'. And I started crying. I'd never cried so hard in my life. I thought: This kind of life, I don't want it, it does not full-fill me. It must go. The life I had lived up until that point did not fit me anymore. There was such a big distance between the person I saw in the mirror and the person I wanted to be deep in my heart.

Shortly after, I did some web research on places to go to find purity in design and living. I found information on the thriving and growing art communities of China. It wasn't long before I decided to go to China. I would temporarily leave behind my 'comfortable' life and I everything so familiar to me.
Apart from the decision to go to China to seek out these art communities, my destination was unknown. But I knew I was once more going to find the freedom I once felt as a child. Not only had I started to dream again, but I was also acting upon that dream.

My sudden decision to move to China was a big surprise to everyone around me. They were shocked when I announced I was leaving for China for an unknown length of time. But for me, this was OK. I knew it was the right thing to do. I was searching for a freedom that would enable me to express my feelings. I was searching for personal development - ever further and faster. I wanted to cultivate the unlimited passion I had locked up inside of me. I wanted the void to be filled, I wanted to heed my calling, my purpose in life.

The journey

The first two months in China, I lived among many Chinese artists. I succeeded in experiencing what it was like to be one of them, sharing the same passion and lifestyle, understanding each other better. We shared the same love for art and life, and I found I was able to communicate with them through a language beyond words. We communicated in symbols, through the dynamics of unspoken feelings, and of course through our art. That truly has been one of the best times of my life in China, even to this day.

The difference in cultures sometimes led to hilarious moments as well. We openly shared all of our dreams, longings, and fears with each other. And our worries too. Even without words. knowing the spoken language.
We got to know each other's true heart. Since I was all alone, I needed to adapt much. But at the same time, I kept my core self intact. So much about me changed very fast, which also filled me with an increasing respect for this culture and these individuals. I worked, ate, slept, laughed, and cried with these artists. To this day, we share many common dreams. We've created our own unique identity and goals by our experiences together.

Under the surface

Apart from the ancient culture and the possibilities it offers for exploring art and freedom, China is also a highly industrialized country. From the community of fellow artists it seemed like such a long way to the mass production facilities with their highly depersonalized working conditions. One day, I had the chance to witness such a human assembly line first hand. It had quite an impact on me, this cold, emotionless place in which it is hard to tell if the humans or the machines are doing the labor. That's also China: a place where the smog hovers above the cities like a blanket suppressing the spirit.
Often, this is the way we look at China from the West. We see poverty, we see a quiet people whose personality is watered down by the higher goals of the common good. But I discovered that the picture the media paint us is a very one-sided one. China is a land of contrasts, where the conservative people live next to progressive ones, factory workers live next to artists and where an ancient culture is slowly permeated by trendy clubs, beautiful international hotels and one of the world's most modern subway systems. This strong spirit and the thirst for progress, which I experienced in some of the people I met touched me deep inside. While the media had showed me a picture of poverty, I discovered the richness of their character. From the inside.

The suitcase

I gathered a lot of baggage during my stay in China. I grew. And my once small suitcase grew with me. I was able to develop myself pretty quickly. Which enabled me to let go of the 'old' ideas that were holding me back. As I experienced the new world around me, a new world opened up inside me as well. The dreams and longing I had experienced as a child came back to me. Like long lost friends. It made me understand more about myself. And about the world around me.

Now it's time to open up my suitcase, to share what I've been gathering all this time. With my creations I want reach out to the individual. To me, my creations are a means to communicate more than a simple message.
They should stimulate the thoughts, feelings and emotions of those that experience them. I do not intend my works to be some status thing. It's not about that at all. I want my creations to speak a world language, to express the universal values and feelings we all have. Because in some way, we are all connected. I mean for my works to be a kind of stepping stone for people to examine the contents of their life. In a world that's developing itself more and more towards rigid formality, I feel challenged to make our hidden longings and emotions rise to the surface. And to inspire people to take action upon who and what they truly are.
I hope this diary about my life and my journey will inspire you as much as I have been inspired by those around me.

I thank you for being yourself.