Meet the Berlin-based artist Osman Balkan
One of our true pleasures, is meeting creative minds from around the world. One of them is a Berlin-based photographer named Osman Balkan. He has been an important part of our visuals since the beginning of our project, and he's the guy we always turn to when we feel like creating quality visuals. A short trip from Oslo to Berlin, and then a few hours of shooting with Osman. This is Osman in COVID 2021.
So Osman, what are you doing right now?
Currently drinking self roasted and grinded coffee and enjoying the first day of covid-lockdown-influenced spring.
Tell us a little about yourself. Who is Osman?
That is the question. Who am I? I guess we will never know. I think the day I know will be the day I die and then I can’t tell anybody. But I guess that’s who every artist is, just someone obsessed with finding out who they really are.
How has the COVID 19 pandemic affected your life?
It definitely affected me greatly, like all of us. Even though I don’t like to go out that much, it has kept me from working and thus keeping me from who I am basically. But I remembered that I used to like painting a lot and a part of my work is the “traditional” art. So I went back to that and it kind of worked out alright for me. But I was more worried on how this pandemic life will affect all of us socially. In the beginning we thought we might find out what really matters to us. Both socially and personally. But it's been a year now and I hope that after this tumultuous time we didn’t get used to fear as an everyday companion.
How did you get into photography?
I've always been into arts. Painting mainly. But as puberty hit me I got very impatient and wanted to get more done in less time because I had so many ideas. I picked up a camera and it just fit. And I got even closer to the visions I had of what I wanted to express and capture.
In your opinion, what is good photography?
I can’t remember who, but someone once said something like “a good photograph is one that makes you stop and look at it again”. In times of 4K and ultra-mega-HD and the big screens we are used to I think that a good photograph is one that makes you want to google for the biggest resolution possible because you want to see the last fucking detail in it.
Do you have any advice for people thinking of getting into photography?
Don't. If you’re thinking about it don’t. In something so difficult and possibly impoverishing (financially) and unmeasurable as art you have to be absolutely immune to doubt. Some tacky cliches about artists are true I guess.
You live in Berlin, how would you describe her?
Berlin is a city that has an atmosphere which is ignored by the most. Most people come to Berlin for its party and drug scene. And the bohemian fashionistas and what nots. But if you really take your time and listen to the city and look closely you can still find bullet-holes in the walls. You can still feel the cruelty and misery. You can feel and breath the horrible things that have happened here. Berlin was a place where something was orchestrated that never should have happened. And it is something we should learn from and never forget. Because that is what I think makes us human. To look closely at the horrible and most unthinkable and decide to take a better road. There is an honesty in Berlin which laid bare the true human nature. That we are capable of doing both the dark and the bright. If you ever wanted to take portraits of people, looking right into their soul: Berlin gives you the tools. It is definitely an eery atmosphere. But it is something to build up on and create something better out of it. And then there is the summer side of Berlin. All of a sudden it's all about sitting outside with people you don’t even know eating, chatting and laughing. Coming together to protest for black lives matters with thousands of people for something that happened far far away. There is a great humanity in Berlin. It can be anything. Berlin is not confined to just “that one city”.
Who is your favourite photographer?
I guess every photographer that took a picture that made me say “damn I wish I would’ve taken that picture!” Let's be honest… But among my favourites are: Leibovitz, Erwitt, Güler, Avedon, Lindbergh, Robert Frank, Arbus and most of all Vivian Maier.
When you're not photographing, what do you do?
I paint, I cook, I water my plants and I watch a lot of movies and shows. Guess one might call me a movie aficionado.
What is your dream as an artist?
To earn money without bending over. That’s all you can ask for. And maybe in a few hundred years having someone say something like “remember that artist back in the 21st? He did something I’ll always remember!”
Four of Osman's favourite photos;
Follow @whoisosmanb for more.