His work has had so many interesting ways to describe it, probably my favorite being, “I love it! A visual energy drink.” Dr. Dominik Matyka, Founder and CEO of Plista, Berlin
With shows all over the world this past year, commissioned works for Portraits by some top notch collectors,and a hot new series, Behmel is quickly making a name for himself.
I have spent literally days looking at my Albrecht Behmel painting, “The Dudes”. Endless hours of fun. Creatures, people, animals, everywhere, hiding, then they pop out at you, you see one, then another.. . Its a perfect conversation piece. In front of you its really remarkable. Overtime, you look at it, you see something else, and for a brief second, you connect with the sense of humor, or playful genius that encapsulates itself “within the magic of the swarms.”
His most recent series, the “Sinister Series” was a hit in LA, with Joe P. Cole (Screenwriter of the Black Panther) and Nate Moore (Producer of the Marvel movies) at the show, as he unveiled his renditions of characters inspired by the Marvel Villains Everyone does super heroes.. including him, he took a different spin and created the “Dark Side of MARVELous” inspired by The Black Panther, Moonstone, Mystique, Thanos,The Scarlett Witch, Loki, Wolverine, Iron man, Red skull. (Pictures following the article)
There was Albrecht, with that smile he brings everywhere, along with his beautiful wife, charming anyone that goes near them. With the movie’s success, the series was timely (ahead of time) in all its vivid, kaleidoscopic glory, it all come to life!
We caught up with Behmel this winter
– How should a creator measure their day to day?
AB- As creators we have a better life, if we convince normal people that sitting around and wasting time is an integral part of being an artist. This, and drug abuse. Of course, it is a myth, or rather an excuse for those creatives among us who are just losers. We need to get stuff done exactly like everyone else, and we need our peace of mind and lots of strength to do so. For me, I am happy with my day’s work when I talked to my partners, learned something new and worked a while on a painting so that there is some visible improvement or progress. I listen to all kinds audiobooks and lectures while I paint, so I get to hear new ideas while I work with my hands. Like Real Vision TV. Phantastic insights. I prefer non-fiction stuff, because drama distracts me. So, this is another thing to measure, a day without drama is a good day. I wonder, what is the unit to measure drama anyway? Seven point five Molière?
– How do you decide when your piece of work is complete?
AB- It depends: With my paintings I am very strict. The moment they are mature, I kick them out of the house and tell them to get a job, because I am not paying for them any longer. This is easy because my paintings are all very structured and well planned. I create them in a defined series of separate steps, and when the last step is done, there is nothing left for me to do. The funny thing is that every time I start such a new step I am like, “will it ever end?”, but when it is done, I am sorry that it doesn’t go on a little longer and I indulge in perfectionism for a little while. Maybe I work too fast. Which I don’t, a painting is usually two to three weeks.
With my writing it is entirely different. When a text I wrote starts to bore me to tears, it is ready. Texts are like problem children, they always come back with a new typo and then you see them again in the press.
– What are some of your best habits?
AB- I get up almost every morning between five and six to spend time with my boys. We make breakfast together, eat and discuss all kinds of things, from math problems (they are four and five years old, so I can still impress them) to pre school ethics, for example the difference between a sith lord and a jedi and discuss whether it would be nice to release a real T-Rex in kindergarten. (their idea, not mine). This is fun. We also always have family dinners together – all of us, so six people. I don’t think I have professional habits. I just like to work a lot and create things. I used to work at night when the boys were babies because they never slept. Now, I mutated from night owl to early bird.
– What keeps you going in the hard times?
AB- Hard times? It is the good times I worry about. They are more frequent. I like to think winter all summer. So, when life is too easy I am afraid to become lazy and stupid. In winter, I think about summer, if this is a useful metaphor. So, hard times are in a sense good times for me. My wife Afraa helps me with this wonderfully. She always finds the good in the bad, including me. When I feel ugly, old, boring and stupid, I just get back to work, I write something or paint or sketch and I don’t care if it is good or not as long as I am making progress. This is what Jocko Willink says, too, whose motto is “Good!” – no matter what just happened. I love this attitude.
– Do you recommend starting small?
AB-Yes, by all means! Microscopic! I go to the hardware store and buy stuff, then I go home and make art. You cannot begin much smaller than that. It starts in the neurons in our heads, tiny things, then we talk about it and share so it can grow.
My advice to young people is usually: Take a lot of small steps but keep looking at the horizon, except when you walk down the stairs. The horizon is a huge thing – very inspiring. I believe, the horizon inspired the ancient Greeks to think about geometry as they sat on the shores of their little islands and tried to figure out if the horizon is a straight line or not. This is another instant of starting small.
– What advice would you give someone who is trying to find their passion?
AB-I tell my students that finding your passion is not like love at first sight. People think that for some reason.
Passion, in my eyes, is an aquired taste. When I learn something really well, passion will follow. So perhaps the best path to passion is to learn a lot and practice a lot and become good at it. And when you go, “whow! that was great”, then you probably found your passion. I am very good at being bad at things, too. For example playing the flute and the mandolin. I have been playing for decades, with zero progress but lots of fun. I guess, passion is completely independent of quality, which makes me wonder, why people are so obsessed about finding their passion.
-Talk to me about traditional education vs doing the work.
AB-Traditional education is doing the work. Do you mean “modern academic education”? It simply stinks. I went through the entire gulag from kindergarten to university and I can’t remember any of it. I still recall and use what I learned as a kid, when my grandfather taught me to write with a quill or draw with charcoal. He was an architect. I learned to write with chalk from a stable hand (this pun is on the house, get it, stable hand?) an old guy who took care of horses, he was a painter, too. We had to write names of horses on huge boards and they needed to be visible all across the field. Some owners get really upset when you spell the names of their horses wrong – on purpose but in lovely calligraphy.
What I mean is, I love learning and studying, but when it comes to real life, I ignore everything I just learned and dive right in. The guys who built the cathedrals in the middle ages had no academic education. The cathedrals are still here after a thousand years, right? I don’t see this happening for the current college system. I tell my students to drop out of university as quickly as possible using the first excuse that they come across. I am very popular there.
– Talk to me about wellness, longevity, and self care for a creator.
AB-We need to … not die. Otherwise we stop being creators. That goes for all of us. So what I do is this: I make sure I am happy most of the time. And when I am feeling miserable, I tell myself that this is actually good for me. I am Roman Catholic, so that feeling comes quite naturally. I go to the gym and work out using doctor Doug McGuff’s method. Just lift the heaviest thing you can find until you don’t anymore and go back to work.
We have wonderful bread in the Black Forest, so this is one of the few carb sins I commit. This and white wine. I believe that Riesling is a supreme white wine. I am no expert, though. You know, we are really just spoiled brats, my family and me: good food, lots of sleep with the windows open even in winter. (The Black Forest mountains are so cold, we believe, Minnesota is like tropical.)
Afraa feeds the entire family with brain octane oil, vitamins and bulletproof diets, luxury grade, five star canned sardines, tons of garlic, ginger and epic salads and mediterranean cooking in general. If this leads to a long life, even better!