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I have been building my independence. Although I grew up in an environment that did nourish an independent soul, since I’m a kid, I believe true independence comes with time, while understanding and building step by step of many layers. Emotional, intelectual, and yes, financial too. I do believe it is an ongoing process, but there are a few milestones to it. And I feel I am reaching one more, right now.
But let’s go a little back in time, so you understand my path up to this moment.
The truth is, the real thing started with a slap on the face… (not for real, but almost)
I had bosses, but decided to be my own boss - or rather, was faced with this decision - around 8 years ago. It all started with an architecture studio. Yes, I was an architect or rather, I still am - if you don’t already know that. But I actually worked with it at that time - which I don’t do anymore. I was working in a Swiss company, which had an office in São Paulo, together with some other architects, from all over. During that time we developed quite interesting - and sometimes too crazy - projects. I was part of the creative team, which was focused in international architecture competitions. I learned a lot during that time. From thinking out of the box, to presenting projects, visual storytelling, selling and more. Because in the end, we were always this anonymous team who worked with different capacities, for a same objective - which was always uncertain. Our results were based on interpreting a briefing, working around it, adding creativity, logic, formality and aesthetics. We never new how the judges would see it, so we had to give it our own identity somehow.
While I had a job, although unusual - compared to my fellow architect colleagues - the desire to have my own projects grew. There were so many other interesting things to be explored in parallel to what happened in that office. I was always a curious human being. I had my own little art projects, which didn’t give me much money at the time, but warmed my heart.
I had a co-worker, who only worked 4 days a week in the office, because the rest of the week he was busy with his own architecture studio. In his office hours he was our project manager, and usually responsible for finding the competitions around the world, presenting them to our Swiss boss, and he was then the one who chose the actual competitions we would be part of - or not. My co-worker - who also became a friend, and eventually a work partner - and I, had these desires to be a little bolder in the choices of the competitions we would be part of. We tried to make that shift inside the office environment, but our ideas weren’t really accepted. We had to stay quiet and keep going with what we were doing already. In parallel, he had his ongoing studio in which he slowly started introducing me.
We started working on a few things here and there together. We had ideas, philosophised about possibilities, and started looking for opportunities to create more conceptual things. Our postures were always transparent inside the office environment too. This was something else and it never had an impact in our daily job - it only enhanced our productivity as a team, because we started getting to know each other beyond those walls.
One day we found out about a very conceptual competition in Montreal, Canada, which our boss - at our “regular job” - didn’t want to embrace. We looked at each other and knew this was an opportunity for us to be a little bolder. We partnered up with an Argentinian studio - built up a team of collaborators - and started working on a crazy idea. After our daily job we would meet up and work during the night and on the weekends to create something unique. Well, we thought so - and in the end - so did the judges of the competition. We received a honourable mention for our project. We were thrilled when we called each other in the morning, on our way to the regular job. “Oh F#&$* we did it!”
And well fuck…we lost our jobs that day too. (sorry for the F word)
We arrived at the office, with an extra dose of a smile and motivation to work. I sat on my computer and tried to log on to our system. For some reason I couldn’t. My local boss was acting all weird. When my co-worker arrived, we were both called up for an urgent meeting. We were both fired. For what? Because our boss had read about our honourable mention in a competition on an online architecture portal.
Yes, that was exactly our reaction. Pride and ego got in the way of our boss - and we had one hour to pack up our things and leave. When we both stepped out on the street by lunch time, we were confused, angry, relieved. It was just a mix of feelings that I can’t really explain. We were tired of a few things inside the office’s structure, but this attitude was like… Wtf? Literally.
We looked at each other and said, well let’s celebrate our price at least. And maybe our freedom? We went to the trendy neighbourhood in São Paulo, set at a bar, and drank a beer. To me that was the day I felt I would be my own boss - no matter what. I was done working for other people, while having these strong ambitions and visions inside of me. That day our own architectural studio was born.
And so did my vision of having a multidisciplinary studio.
Well, the seed was planted in my mind a few weeks later, when we were already moving things forward. Contacting people, using the structure my partner had already built. We looked for a place, and we started working on different kinds of projects. Both very detail oriented and with technical fundamentals, but with a strong knack for creativity. While brainstorming in a bar one night, he asked me, “what is your dream for your own studio, Kalina?” I said, I had a vision of people from different backgrounds or specialties working together for the same purpose. At that time I was rather architecture and design oriented, but I started talking about it the first time out loud. A multidisciplinary studio, creating from pieces of furniture to installations and even spaces. I didn’t have it all figured out, but I swallowed any further developments when he said, “that sounds amazing, but very romantic too. Do you really think this is something possible? And that you will actually make money out of something like that?”
“He doesn’t understand” - I told myself - and kept moving the conversation to another direction. I still remember that night as if it had happened yesterday. Was it really something so different? So unimaginable? So abstract? I didn’t think so. And well, I didn’t quite have the answers in my mind, so maybe that was not the time for that.
We kept going and working. Our studio lasted around a year, whilst our lives changed forever. He got pregnant with his wife, their first child, and felt the need to go to a more money oriented carrier. He eventually moved cities and became someone else’s employee again, for the security of it. And for his family. Well, and I? That was the year I heard the calling to my art, and well, you know where I am at this point. It took me around a year and a half from October 2012 to January 2014, from being an architect, and actually focusing a 100% on my art. That was like a transitioning phase to me.
Why did I bring up that seed in this text?
Well, because it has been transforming and growing inside of me. It wasn’t only architecture and design. It was something else, or rather something combined. Something interdependent. Almost unconsciously - or maybe not - I was getting ready. I was learning how to be independent - in all its layers. At that time, while starting to live from my art, I also started diving inside of me. "Who am I, really?” - I started asking myself. “And what does my art mean? “
Many years, walls, paintings, lines, relationships, falls, loves, experimentations, models, collaborations, trips, houses, cities, adventures, tears and smiles later - I have reached yet another checkpoint. It is time to bring that vision up again:
A multidisciplinary studio - filled with interesting humans from different backgrounds, working for the same purpose. My art was used as a tool for inner change until this moment - and will now be combined with creativity to become tools to enhance perception and create a positive impact in the world.
To be continued…
Written by Kalina Juzwiak
I'm an artist and creative entrepreneur. I live (from) my art with a systemic view, uniting discipline and determination to a pro active imagination. I'm constantly developing my abilities to transform compositions - and situations - into provocative movements and moments of reflection to those that observe them. I use art and design as tools to enhance consciousness and perception of reality, actively inspiring change of my context. And that is why vanguard people and companies choose me to transform their visions into reality by creating unique projects and experiences.
I said there was a way out and here it is: thanks to our hyperconnected reality, the lack of information is no longer a problem. Artists and creative people, in general, are more and more open to sharing their daily lives and processes online, and, with a little bit of attention and curiosity, we can access a much greater diversity of references than before.
Our environment encourages conformity and control - two concepts I perceive as prisons. We become afraid of letting ourselves loose. The fear that kills our freedom of expression and creativity, once we start telling ourselves “I can’t” “I don’t dare” “what will people think of me?” I am breaking free of this.