B is for Bryan (the Girl)
"The weather’s just the same in Connecticut,” Bryan says when I ask her about Berlin. This week, she’s celebrating her first anniversary of moving here. Exactly a year ago, she arrived from the US—as she puts it herself—alone, with a suitcase in one hand and a banjo in the other. Fortunately, other aspects of life turned out to be more rejuvenating than the weather.
Berlin has indeed proved worthy of the chance Bryan took to move here. She feels like she belongs here, and I could easily tell she meant it ever since seeing her sketches for the first time. They were drawings of various U-Bahn stations and other elements one comes across during a daily commute in Berlin. The BVG featured a bunch of her paintings on their Instagram, and I just fell in love with the one of a ticket machine.
This encounter being just a prelude to a prolonged stalking session through her Instagram account, I realized I needed Bryan’s cross-hatching game in my feed. But it wasn’t only her technique that made me think so. I enjoyed the objects she was depicting as well. As with the ticket machine, they would often be very simple everyday life items, like keys, bottles or hand cream tubes. Actually, I’ve just recently seen her sketch of a USB cable, which I really liked.
So considering my initial, entirely layman impressions of Bryan’s work, I couldn’t help but smile when we got to discuss how she feels about her art. She did study it back in the States—and even entered the college with the intention of becoming a professor—but didn’t quite appreciate how she was always expected to back up her work with some intellectual context and only interact with people in the academic community.
In other words, she doesn’t mind skilfully sketching some common life objects simply for people to enjoy—and I do enjoy them. Hopefully a wider audience will as well, which is what Bryan is working toward every day in her Kreuzberg studio.
As the aforementioned district choice may suggest, Bryan’s a true Berlin gal right now. Independent, down-to-earth and honest. Although quite successful with new commissions rolling in on a regular basis and over 8.500 followers on Instagram, she’s ready to admit she’s still learning, far from having established a particular style, constantly trying out new things which sometimes simply don’t get as much attention, with her goal being the ability to support herself with the income generated by her creative work.
And she retained the same sensible approach when we went on to share some emotional insights, which could be quite relatable for any female. We both agreed, as outdated as it might sound, there is still some stigma that surrounds making friends on Tinder and that it’s high time we erase it. After all, it is the easiest way to meet people, especially when you’ve just arrived in a city like Berlin, where the cool kids are self-consciously striving to maintain an aura of superiority that leaves the rest of us feeling like we’re watching a TV show—even in a bar, where in theory we’re perfectly capable of saying hi, but in practice completely intimidated.
But that’s part of the old continent’s charm, as contrasted with the superficial friendliness that’s known to some from the U.S. Bryan doesn’t seem to miss it that much. She says it feels more genuine to have to earn someone’s recognition first.
*image by Helge Mundt
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Michalina Gorajek is a Berlin based writer.