Compass North, An Int'l Interview Series: Christian Klute

J: What interview can't start without an introduction?

C: Is this a metaphorical question? (laughs) My name is Christian Klute, I´m a traditional artist from Germany, working mostly in oil and charcoal. My main motives are monochrome landscapes and portraits.

J: Not exactly (laughs). It’s very standard among all the interviews, but thanks for your observation! So, your piece, The Raven, is hanging prominently in my room. To me, it seems, well angry, with the rigidity of the line work. Care to explain your mindset when creating this?

C: The Raven was kind of special. I was experimenting with a technique where I used turpentine to ”paint“ with graphite and the outcome was more expressive than my regular drawings at that time. I wanted it to be dynamic, full of movement and…well ravenous (go figure). I can´t really put into words what I felt or wanted to express, which is probably why I´m a visual artist and not a writer (laughs).

J:  I do see that. It is sporadic, frantic, yet subliminal and centered. Next question. How has working for a ‘9-5’ job helped you realize your true calling as an artist?

C: It helped that it went away at one point (laughs). I was always very unhappy with my job, but couldn´t figure out a better alternative, so I kept working. When I finally became unemployed, I saw it as a chance to finally change something. I was thrown into the water and forced to find out what I really wanted to do with my life. Without this pressure, I might have continued to sleepwalk through my life. But apart from that working as a media designer helped to develop a sense for composition and probably various other things related to visual art that I´m not consciously aware of.

J: Now that’s more of a metaphor. Love it. Tell me more about the German fine arts. (This is a broad question, so try to limit to your own personal experiences.)

C: Oh I can´t tell you much about it, I´m not really into the German art scene, or any other scene for that matter. I´m a hermit, living in his cave, focusing on his craft. It´s quite ignorant, I know (laughs).

J: Hey, no issue on that! Paraphrasing Ernest Hemingway, but the more an artist involves other people, his/her art declines. I can see how that theory is working for you since your artwork is stunning. Our in-house artist, Jessica C. Barros, is also a scholar of realism; magical realism to be specific. Care to compare traditional vs. magical?

C: To keep it short I´d say magical realism uses imagination and depicts inner realities so to speak while traditional realism tries to capture the outer reality and filter it through the eyes of the artist.

J: Got it. So, what is monochrome exactly? Have you used other mediums while at the academy?

C: Monochrome is basically a reduction of the color range to only one color, which is only altered by its tonal value. In my case, it´s black, respectively various shades of grey. I find that limiting everything to only this basic form of expression creates a calm, simplistic form of aesthetic with which I really can identify. I worked in color too though, not only at the academy. And of course, I also love colorful images of other artists. But this down to earth black and white approach has something very appealing to me. Despite of that, I won´t preclude to ever work in color again, I try to stay open for new things.

J: A masterful answer! Using the mediums you described in your cover letter, typically pertains to darkness, underground, and even cultist/satanic. Being a fan of metal music (I assume), how does your work channel the energies of other forms of art such as music?

C: Right, I´m into metal since I´m 11 and it had an enormous impact on me. Not only the music, but also the very dominant visuals of this genre of course. I´m sure this shaped my preferences a lot, which might be one reason why my art tends to be on the darker side. I don´t conciously try to fit in this dark art category though, it just comes naturally for me.

It´s funny that you ask this… I´ve been experimenting a lot with the influence of music on the painting process lately. For years I was listening to audiobooks or documentaries while I was painting to give the left side of my brain something to do as well haha. But a while ago I had a very intense experience when I turned on music instead… it was as if I was able to dive into the painting way more than before because of the music. I´m sure it has something to do with how certain areas of the brain work together. Since then, I´m fascinated by experimenting with how different music impacts my painting and how my art can benefit from it. A very interesting topic I think.

J: I agree. I also can listen to metal while doing my writing or just about any chore; just the type of music I’ve always like. Very insightful answer, Christian. Next one. How have commissions fueled your metaphoric ‘fire’ as an artist? Do you think your corporate skills would’ve been augmented if you kept your typical job as a media designer?

C: Actually, I did the portrait commissions out of a lack of fire for my own art. I was in a huge creative block for quite a while, so I figured I could at least hone my skills by drawing whatever subject my customers wanted me to draw. I hoped that through this monotony one day I would be able to break through this block and find the passion for my own projects again.

And no, I don´t think any of what I do today would have happened if I would have kept my regular job as I explained earlier.

J: Glad to hear. Staying sharp keeps a sort of ‘base-level’ creativity that can fluctuate with life. Have you ever done commissions for authors? If so, how was the illustrations and/or cover design process? Do you write at all?

C: I don´t do illustrative commissions anymore, but I remember that I did a cover artwork for a book years ago. You wouldn´t recognize for it´s from me though, the author had very specific ideas which I just implemented. Colorful and a little kitschy, basically the opposite of what I do today.

I actually did write a lot in the past. I did a daily practice of creative writing called ”morning sites“, where you write 3-A4 sites by hand every day with everything that comes to mind without censoring. The purpose of this practice is to weaken the inner censor during any creative process, so you basically train yourself to produce, produce, produce and refine later. It was a tremendous creativity boost for me to learn how to get into this ”production mode“. All in all I did this daily practice for around 2 years, so I technically wrote a book of 2000+ sites with complete incoherent nonsense. (laughs). I still have piles of notepads here which I wrote cover to cover and never read again. I highly recommend this practice for any creative person, independent of his or her discipline by the way.

J: Wow! I may have to adopt that practice for myself. Thank you very much for this interview, highly appreciated. Links to Christian's site and social media handles are listed below. If you are interested in becoming the next Compass North interviewee, please contact us via the Submit tab!

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