Firstly, before I start talking about myself and my experiences, I would like to say how lovely it was to see Tina’s blog about Budapest. Thank you Tina for this detailed and informative text.
Because exactly this is what I wanted to talk about!
This city is so close to my heart. But shall we see it from the beginning?
Well, I was born in Hungary (lets just say, sometime in the lovely 70’s) in a small town. As a young child I was trained as a gymnast and I also learnt classical ballet. Well, to tell you the truth my parents decided for me, as I was only 3 years old then, yet I am very thankful for this. So usually I spent 2-3 hours every day on a very strict training with my Hungarian and Russian coaches. It was very hard sometimes but I loved it. There is just something about ballet that gives you so much plus for a lifetime. It teaches you self-discipline and you will learn how to use every muscle in your body. I think this is the most powerful way of self-expression as you are completely one with your emotions and your body intuitively follows your feelings.
As time went by I got into high school and unfortunately had to give up dancing. This was a very hard heart-breaking time for me. I did not know how to express myself any more. So I started to be interested in art, especially in fine art looking for other ways that might suit me. I started drawing at the age of 15 and also taking private lessons from recognized artists. I was very lucky to learn from Endre Szasz, probably the most famous contemporary Hungarian artist. Years later I was honoured to teach drawing in his summer art school. He was really sharp and strict, I remember he always said to student: ‘ You are really good at drawing….so stop wasting your time and start painting finally!’ He did not miss one day of painting, usually he produced 4 or 5 work a day.
When you first learn how to draw you feel really clumsy and frustrated, as your brain knows what you want but not your hand. So you either carry on practicing or just give it up. This is where I stayed and practiced, and practiced thanks to the discipline I’ve learnt from ballet and I did not care if it was not correct as long as I achieved to express my inner world. It is a long journey to find your own style. Especially when your tutors are great artists because you will try to follow their visual language.
After my A-levels I went to the local Art College to study fine art and graphic design, and a few years later when I had saved enough money I moved up to Budapest to study graphic art on the University. The following 4 years was the best time of my life in the KREA Institute of Art. I started working as a freelance artist whilst studying on the uni yet it was not easy and I had my ups and downs. I was freelancing as an illustrator for big fashion companies, and there was a time when I had to work full time as a secretary for a magazine. So daytime I was working and after work I did uni till 10pm. Then finish, go to my rented room and do more study. I was still buzzing with energy.
Luckily I was commissioned for a lot of abstracts and nudes at that time and it helped me to carry on with my study expenses. I graduated with distinction as a Graphic Designer in 2005.
But being self-employed in Hungary is not what you want to do in long term as the tax system takes 50% of your income. I was lucky enough to travel a lot during my young years before uni (this is not too common in communist countries) and I spent some time in the States in New York and Miami, visited Puerto Rico several times and most of Europe. Before the University I worked two years for the US Army on a NATO base as an interpreter and unfortunately I had a chance to see Croatia and Bosnia during and after the Balkan-war. Most part of Croatia was totally bombed with ghost villages, and I’ve never seen so many men with missing limbs as in Bosnia and I just knew that something was really wrong with the world. If in any way art could do anything to start a change then this is what I have to do. Paint. So I’d quit and moved to Budapest to study at the Uni.
By the way Budapest is a wonderful city, it really influenced me both artistically and personally. I had lived there for 5 years but any time I go back I still feel like a tourist and I admire the architecture.
I visited England when I was 16 during a school trip and I had thought about moving here since then. So I had an opportunity to visit Bristol again in 2006 and after a short thinking I’ve decided to stay.
I will continue soon and talk about my experiences in more detail, how I became an artist and what inspires me.