In the Studio with Theresa Goessmann

In the studio with Theresa Goessmann, whose practice uses art as a form of reflection and documentation. Thoughts, dreams, memories and fantasies meet flickers of the randomly multitasked, multi-channeled physical and digital realities in which we navigate daily. We met with Theresa to tell us more about growing up in Hamburg, Germany, her greatest influences, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

It wasn’t until long after I finished my studies that it started to feel right to call myself an artist. I still sometimes struggle with imposter syndrome and hesitate when someone asks me what my job is. But there isn’t anything else I’d rather be and there isn’t anything I enjoy more than creating art and deep down I’ve known this my whole life.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work?

I grew up in Hamburg, Germany with two sisters and my parents. I was a shy kid and I always loved spending time alone drawing. We didn’t have a TV until I was a teenager so my childhood was really playful and creative. Art was my favorite subject in school, but I never thought it would be a realistic career. Both my parents worked in the legal field and growing up I thought that everyone eventually ends up in an office job.

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice, artistic work? Was there a pivotal moment when you felt you were on the right track?

After high school I didn’t really know what to do with my life and decided to go abroad for a foundation course in art & design to try out different things. After that I went on to study fashion design for my BA because I loved working with textiles and since drawing is a big part of the studies, it seemed like a good fit. At some point I realized though the industry wasn’t for me and applied for a Master of Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. I had the best time there! I had a lot of time to experiment and gained confidence in my practice. And I met so many wonderful people. 

I’ve been freelancing for almost three years now, with a small studio share in Hamburg and I still often wonder wether I am on the right track.. I think that feeling will never fully go away because being an artist is such an individual path. It takes a lot of reflection and focus. But in the end, there is no „right“ or „wrong“ way. That freedom is scary but also empowering.

What’s the message of your work? (themes/narratives/purpose) Where do they come from? How would you describe your aesthetic? 

I don’t have an overarching message in my work. Many works are similar, but each piece has its own meaning and context. I want my art to be items of affection. Something that you would save in a fire. Art is something you live with, that accompanies the daily life. I hope my works can be that for some people. I hope they touch something pure and personal inside. 

Who/what are your greatest influences? 

Wade Guyton, Sterling Ruby, Jeff Elrod, Günther Förg, Jean Arp, Marc Rothko, Picasso, …

An unexpected source of inspiration?

Construction sites! The colours, the textures, the rawness, this constant growing and evolving.

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? Do you have the audience consciously in mind when you are creating?

I don’t want to prescribe anything and I don’t expect anything. My aim is always to create a work that feels good to me and that I am happy living with. I think it’s actually pretty interesting to hear the associations different people have with a piece. One might see a face, the other sees a bird and that’s totally welcome.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? How has your art evolved? Do you experiment? 

The wonderful (late) Kate Love, my dissertation tutor during my MA, encouraged me to approach writing in a very free and personal way which was so liberating and inspiring.

It helped me to reflect on my practice in a new form. I collected some of these poems into a publication which was a totally different kind of working. I gained a lot of clarity from it and I can draw a lot of connections between my writing and my visual work. I love this fluidity between disciplines. 

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

Solitude, good music, enough sleep the night before, daylight, no distractions and a state of flow. It’s also important not to give up too early and know when to stop.

Tell us about the inspiration behind one of your works?

Three Cowboy Hats – This work was created in a way that’s very typical for me. I had a scrap piece of canvas and wanted to test out some colours and shapes of cowboy hats for another, larger piece. But then I really liked the result so much that it became a work in itself. It has a floating, dream-like quality that makes it really playful and that is also what the process felt like. There were no expectations or plans beforehand, just following the flow. Then I had the problem that there was too little border left to be able to stretch it so I stitched some blank canvas to the sides which functions a bit like a passepartout and gives the piece a bit more formality.

Constantly, Instantly, Endlessly – This piece took years to come into realization. I made a collage in 2014 or 2015 I think, using images of denim, while working on my degree show for fashion school. I never used it for that but something about this composition stuck with me and I always wanted to do something with it. I scanned it and smoothed it out in photoshop to create prints but I then felt it needed to be a painting. So I painted it finally.

Something in the future you hope to explore?

I’d always wanted to create artwork for an album cover.

Describe your work in three words:

Sensitive, subtle, strong

What do you listen to while you work? Is music important to your art?

Music is so important!. Lately I’ve been into Alec Benjamin, Odie and Lie Ning a lot.

What is your favorite read?

It’s impossible to pick one. Generally anything about psychology or philosophy, humankind…I’m not so much  into novels. The untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer is great and also The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. Novacene by James Lovelock is fantastic, too.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received (any quotes or mantras you particularly connect with)?

Drawing is the art of omission.

What makes you laugh 🙂

My younger sister. She has the best humor.

What makes you nervous?


Is there anything you’ve recently tried for the first time? 

Group therapy.

Is there anything you’ve been hesitant to try in the past but you’d like to this year?

I’d love to try lithography.

Do you have any superstitions?

I don’t believe in God. I believe in myself.

Would you rather know what the future holds or be surprised?

Surprise me 🙂

What palace in your everyday environment do you go to for inspiration?

My imagination.

What are some things you’re most passionate about outside of your practice?

Interior design, fashion, ballet, running, reading, the movies

What is your relationship with social media?

I love it, I am such a painfully curious person. I only use Instagram though. I like that it’s visual. It’s an easy way to share my work and to stay connected to other artists.