Interview with artist Marcel Thiele

I met Marcel Thiele almost 5 years ago in Milan, while I was there studying. It was interesting for me to find out the story of a big time manager that had hidden artistic talents. You know, when you meet a corporate person (even more if it’s from a high level) you put them in a certain box, a box that has nothing to do with artistry.

One of the things that I admire the most about Marcel Thiele is his “realness” to say so. I feel that in our days people pretend a lot. We want to pretend to be someone that we’re not, living a make-believe life with imaginary friendships. Marcel is far away from that.

We wanted you to meet him because we think that his story is very interesting and he is an inspiring person. Even if he’s an artist, he’s not going to sugar-code things, he’ll say it how it is. Here we go:

  1. Tell us a bit more about yourself.

I consider myself a liberal European who lived in several countries. I studied in Germany and Dublin/Ireland, I worked in Italy for 5 years (Milan, Florence, Verona), in France (Lille and Paris) and Romania a total of 8 years now. I am a very rational creative, not confirming the prejudice, that creative people are mostly chaotic. I love to travel and to see new cities and countries.

2. You were a successful business man, what made you take this U-turn in your life?

I understood that I was not really happy in my last job, stressed with new problems to solve every day and not seeing the next step to come soon. Having had already 12 years of high-level experience in my professional live with different directors and CEO-Positions in food retail I guessed it would be a good moment to make a sabbatical year and try myself as a full time artist, giving  my hobby a proper frame of time and space, meaning finding a studio/Atelier where I could live my creativity, paint big painting and throw with paint if I wanted to. That’s what I did. The idea was to see how everything would turn out, how to control the so-called “workaholic” in me and then during that year to decide weather to continue that track or to get back into the corporate system. Well, 3 years later it turns out I didn’t want to step back, despite several international high level offers…The flexibility and freedom I have now compensate for the security, also financially, that would be and was provided by a fix salary.

3. What inspires you?

“Traditionally”, in younger days, painters and paintings, art itself. Wherever I traveled I would always visit art museums, especially modern/contemporary ones. Painters like Jackson Pollock and Gerhard Richter fascinated me, inspired me. Their innovative approaches and techniques. Their way of playing with colors creating great pieces of art. Also Mark Rothko is one of my early motivators. Today, as I am already painting myself for quite some time, everyday life inspires me. Inspiration and new ideas come while watching tv, while driving the car or walking the streets. While checking Facebook or Instagram seeing something, not necessarily paintings but structures, color combinations….

If I like something in my brain starts kind of an automatic creative process. I see in front of my inner eye different sketches of how the inspiration could be transformed into a painting. When this is convincing for myself, then I can´t wait to go to my studio and to try out to materialize the idea into a painting. Sometimes it is not easy to find the right technique, mix of colors and processes to get to a nice result, sometimes I have to over paint the result and start at zero, but sometimes I succeed in transforming inspiration and idea into a real artwork.

4. What is your dream project?

There are many ideas and projects that I had and have in mind. Some I already started or are on their way as creating a limited edition of handbags in cooperation with the Romanian designer Anca Irina Lefter and now we are working on a small line of silk scarves, with my paintings printed on them.

In my mind I have an exhibition/show with big paintings, music and models or singers that are painted in the same style/colors, hair included, in front of some paintings getting into life and start singing as a surprising moment. Speaking of a dream exhibition, that would be in MoMa New York.

5. What would you tell a person that wants to leave their current job and invest all their time and energy in art (any form that would take)?

If you do this you have to have the Passion, the guts and of course a certain financial support, that is necessary also to pay the materials, the studio and some bills till you start making money with your art. And you also should have a plan B, like going back to work if after a predefined time-frame the wished results don’t come. But if you have the idea already to leave a carrier and start becoming a full-time/professional artist then there is a slight “unhappiness” with the current situation anyway. This adventure should be tried out, if financially sustainable, but with a well-defined time-frame. It should be also realistic to transform a hobby into a profession.

6. What do you dislike about your work?

It is not about disliking, but along with a lot of creativity, talent you need also a lot of luck to meet the right people appreciating your artworks and helping you a step further on your way. So there is also a lot of subjectivity and personal taste involved. Art is not like running the 100 meters, the result is not directly measurable. But as an Artist you have to creative not only in the process of painting/creating but also it takes personal marketing and promotion.

7. What superpower would you like to have and why?

Romantically speaking I would like to be able to fly like Superman in jet speed around the world in order to easily reach all the fascinating and beautiful places out there, but I think the true valuable super power would be to read the minds of people. Reading peoples mind means to be able to manipulate them. Today everything is about manipulation, political manipulation, and commercial manipulation. I don’t think I would invest this superpower in gaining directly financial profit, but in order to clean up the mess of today’s politics.

8. You are almost what they call a globe-trotter, do you have that one place you’d visit a thousand times?

I saw many countries and cities on basically all continents. I love to travel and to discover new locations. There are definitely destinations I want to go to again, like Maldives or Thailand where anyway you can discover so many things. There is no place that I go to frequently except my hometown in Germany, but there are some cities I visited many times. I love Berlin and could imagine to live and create there for a longer period. It is basically the most vivid city in Europe and when I visit Berlin every 2 to 3 years so much again changed and developed that you can’t visit all in 4 days.

9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Take the job offer and go to Italy!

When I was 27 years old I received the offer to work in Italy for about a year and then, depending on the international needs of the company, to stay or to change the country.

I didn’t speak any Italian that time, but I knew I had to learn it, because professionally English is not enough in order to work successfully in Italy in most of the cases. I took the risk, I started to work in Italy, I proved my flexibility and sense for adventure. It was professionally and personally a huge gain for me, as I started a nice carrier and where able to live abroad developing new skills, also an international EQ, add on some intercultural qualities adding to my German background. This advice taught me, that it can be worth to take a risk, to leave home behind and start something new.

To be up to date with Marcel Thiele’s adventures and art, do follow him on Facebook and Instagram. And don’t forget that if you like an artist’s work, try to show it one way or another, even if it’s by leaving a comment saying how you feel about their art.

Doina Tatu

Doina Tatu is a co-founder of The Smoke Detector, social media manager, writer, art lover, dog-petter, music listener.

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