In late August of 2017 I moved to Berlin. I was new to the city and did not know anyone. I wrote to an artist I had followed on Instagram for long. His name is Otto Baum. I wrote to him;
Hi Otto, you do not know me and you probably won’t answer. I just moved to Berlin, so if you ever need help with carrying paint or holding a ladder, hit me up.
Two minutes later he replied. He and his artist collective KLUB7 had been invited to paint three walls at a refugee camp, just 10 minutes outside Berlin. He furthermore wrote that if I wanted to meet up, he was going to an opening of an art exhibition the same evening.
I went to the art exhibition, which was with an artist called Rylsee. There I met Otto and he invited me to join KLUB7 the following Monday for a two day paint job and workshop event at the refugee camp named Karow.
The following Monday I met up with Ingo, Christi, Christoph, Lenia, and Otto at their studio in Berlin. We gathered the stuff we needed for creating three murals for the camp. I had no idea what to expect in regards to the camp and I did not know the artistic style of KLUB7.
We arrived at the camp and in the beginning everything was very formal. We had to sign in and out every time we left the fenced-in camp. Once we got in, we were greeted by the staff and the residing kids with curiosity, but smiles.
I helped unload the truck while some of the others inspected the walls we were to paint. The four walls were divided into two sections each, which meant we in fact had to paint 6 murals.
As KLUB7 started painting they introduced me to different methods of preparing a wall, how they grounded a wall with different colors and tools, and finally how they each would work with different techniques that complimented each others artistic style.
Otto Baum is very focused on detail and work mainly with brushes of different sizes. He has also developed his own style in regards to lettering and calligraphy.
Christi has his artistic background in street art. He is meticulous with a spray can and taught me how transitions between colors and fading works with cans.
Ingo has an eye for bringing the different pieces together. He works with spray cans, brushes, brush rollers, and spray guns. He made sure that the transition between the elements of each mural came together in one great finishing flow.
While the three were painting, Lenia and Christoph held a workshop for the children of camp Karow. They ushered everyone, including the rest of KLUB7, to make nametags from cardboard and different pens and paint. This helped KLUB7, me, and the kids to get to know each other.
The two of them had their hands full with 15 kids of all ages. The youngest went off painting on each other, whilst the older kids, mainly boys, were standing in the background and thinking what we did was childish. After a couple of hours, where Lenia and Christoph explained the application of each tool, the kids settled.
The older boys allowed for themselves to become children again and gathered around one table. They were writing their names and trying to impress each other. The younger children quickly became close with Lenia and Christoph. Especially one kid was very fond of Lenia and they created a special bond during the two days we were there.
It was amazing to see how painting and drawing can bring people together, even with a difference in culture and language. Personally I learned a lot from working with KLUB7, they were happy to teach me their different crafts and I am left immensely inspired. They are a great artist collective that have worked together for two decades, so they know each others styles and compliment each other so well! I can nothing but recommend any reader to go to their website and see their work.
Ludwig “Otto Baum”, member of artist collective KLUB7.