20 Minutes with Josephina Elverfeldt

The artist about being creative in Corona-times, sustainable art and financial independence

Josephina Elverfeldt’s paintings feel like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole into a world of pastel colours, sublime landscapes, and romanticized beginning-of-last-century city scenes. The artist’s works are expressionist feelings on canvas, giving glimpses into her emotional states – some are dreamy neverlands while others show much more concrete and dark personal interactions. The human body serves as her test object, her guiding thread, and lense. The German painter studied art in Florence and Berlin, before founding her own online gallery: Jove Gallery. We asked her about creating in times of a pandemic, sustainable painting, and for tips on how to start your art career.

Freiraum: How do you keep a “work-life balance” when your work is clearly also your passion?
Josephina Elverfeldt: I don’t have a specific system, I rather follow my intuition. I feel very free and joyful when I draw or paint. Sometimes I need to stop for a while. For example, I read, I cook, I party, or I travel. It helps me to dream and get inspiration. Now during Corona, it was also long phone calls with friends or books that inspired me.


“As an artist, you are not only a painter, you may also be a musician, photographer, or filmmaker. It’s so nice that there are no boundaries – you can always develop in new ways.”

FR: How did the pandemic influence your work? We see other artists fulfilling themselves, having the time to create without any distractions…
Josephina Elverfeldt: At first I enjoyed the peace and quiet. I was able to turn many ideas into reality that I had collected over the years. I was able to process memories and feelings that had been dormant in me without being distracted by new impressions.
As an artist, you are not only a painter, you may also be a musician, photographer, or filmmaker. It’s so nice that there are no boundaries – you can always develop in new ways. For example, I am working with clay in my studio at the moment.

On the one hand, the pandemic gave me the chance to deal with a lot of ideas and to come to rest. In the meantime, I have the feeling that I have been revolving around myself too much and for too long.
I miss going dancing and seeing other people, having new experiences, observing new things… I also find myself longing for the wind and the sound of the sea. The desire to travel increases with every lockdown.

FR: Do you personally think that because of the lockdown, there is a lack of inspiration in general?
Josephina Elverfeldt: It is certainly different for each artist individually. One has come to rest a little or has processed a new and intense time in the works of art. But art is also always a mirror for the times we live in and so I can imagine that many suffer from it and are not necessarily in their peak phase. However, a negative emotion can sometimes be stimulating and creative, at least for me. But I also think that there is the possibility of being inspired in new ways. Anything that can make you dream, even if it’s just a short walk, can create new inspiration.

FR: Let’s play, what would have been – Where do you think you would be today if there never was a pandemic?
Josephina Elverfeldt: It’s hard to say. The pandemic made me leave the city and flee to the countryside to paint. So ideally I would be in an exciting city, maybe with my own art collective and a public studio, where people can watch me work or have a coffee and a chat. That would definitely be wonderful for the future.

FR: With the fashion or food industry, we see a lot of changes towards sustainability and environmental awareness. Are sustainability and living consciously topics within the art scene?
Josephina Elverfeldt: Yes, definitely. I think it’s important in every industry to produce in a responsible and environmentally conscious way. Artists are looking for less water usage, alternative energy sources, and more. I think there is a growing awareness of those topics.

FR: Is it possible to create art in a sustainable way? If so, how?
Josephina Elverfeldt: How to be an eco-friendly artist is definitely a topic, and there are sustainable art supplies on the market. First of all, you can start by being careful about the materials you use. If you clean your brushes well, you can use them for a long time. Personally, I am using Sennelier Green for Oil (Pinselreiniger). In the beginning, I used to throw my artworks away, when I wasn’t fully satisfied. My advice now: Give it time, hide the work for a while until you feel like reworking or painting over it. You can also make your own paints from pigments or build your own canvas to reduce waste.

“I think as a young woman in this day and age and also in a meritocracy like ours, artists would like to prove to themselves
that they are capable of being financially independent and having a successful career.”

FR: Are you confronted with any stigmas about being an artist?
Josephina Elverfeldt: I think as a young woman in this day and age and also in a meritocracy like ours, artists would like to prove to themselves that they are capable of being financially independent and having a successful career. As a self-employed artist, you are definitely in a different situation than working in management. I’ve noticed that many people are interested but don’t really take the profession seriously. I hope that will change.

FR: What would you recommend as the first steps to start a career as an artist?
Josephina Elverfeldt: It took me a long time to become public with my art. It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to make something so personal public. You make a part of your soul available to others, and it was extremely difficult for me to overcome this. My fiancé, Robin Saurma, who also paints, knows these feelings and has encouraged me to strengthen my self-confidence until I was ready. I would recommend everyone to overcome self-doubt and just do it. I think you gain more than you lose, Instagram or Saatchi Art are great platforms to reach people, galleries, and like-minded people. Every reaction or interaction brings you further in your development.

FR: Let’s get a bit personal: What did you want to become when you were a child? Was art always on the table or are there any other passions you thought of pursuing on a professional level?
Josephina Elverfeldt: When I was a child, I wanted to be a writer, then an actress, and then a director. My sister and I used to run around dressed up with the VHS camera and make up stories. Basically, I’m still trying to tell stories with my art and I’m also very happy that in art there’s the possibility of making a film next, or making sculptures, or writing a short story. I am excited about my further development and looking forward to expressing my world and reach people with it.

FR: Personal leeway (=Freiraum): What does it mean for you and where can you find it?
Josephina Elverfeldt: ‘Personal leeway’, for me, is a place where I can develop freely, where I can be myself without prejudice or too high expectations from society and myself.
For me, personal leeway can be a blank canvas that needs to be filled. A wide view of the sea or nature. Finally, it means the possibility to give space and meaning to new, wonderful ideas.

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