We visited Tabea Mathern, a Photographer amongst many other talents, born and raised in Germany. She relocated from North Rhine Westphalia to Berlin soon after school with the "need to leave the familiar behind".
What’s your heritage, where are you originally from?
Originally I’m from the Ruhr Area in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany, a place full of contradictions and hearty people, that I still love coming back to.
Where are you based now, what brought you there?
Right after finishing school I felt the strong need to leave the familiar behind and moved to Berlin. I was drawn by its ability to constantly reinvent itself and by somehow always “getting up again”. It’s a city full of darkness, yet so full of light and joy.
I also wanted the excitement, the adventure, the inspiration, the weirdness. And I was so ready to meet like-minded people from all around the world and connect over things I cared about: art, culture, music, late-night-conversations about our society and the meaning of life… all the things many people come searching for here.
After years of studying, living and working in Berlin (with some time apart in Toronto, Canada) the city has become my home, my crazy, colourful, sometimes annoying, sometimes harsh comfort zone, that sneaked its way into my heart just like that. I do believe though that you can have several “homes”, different places or even people, giving you that special feeling. For me that’s also Toronto, my heart always skips a beat when I return and look at the waterfront for the first time.
Eklim Ring with Gemstones
What’s your earliest memory of Photography?
My parents were always shooting ﬁlm on a Canon reﬂex camera and I just loved everything about it: the sound of the shutter, the smell of a fresh ﬁlm roll, this magical moment you’d pick up the ﬁlm from the shop. The camera was bulky and heavy and my hands small, but a few times my father would help me use it and I was hooked. When I turned 10 my family gifted me a little 35mm Olympus Mju, which I just LOVED and used all the time. I had my sister dress up and pose for me, built little sets, took photos of all my favourite humans, animals and places and spent most of my pocket money on ﬁlm rolls.
How did you know this was diﬀerent to the other hobbies you had?
Being artistic and creating something with my mind, eyes and hands has always felt super natural for me, from my earliest memories on, so I can’t really pinpoint a certain moment of realization. I guess subconsciously I always knew that it was just a very big part of me, so it naturally evolved further and turned into a career when I grew up and had to ﬁnd a way to make money. I just could not imagine doing anything else. It’s not always easy to “turn your passion into a career” and it surely hasn’t been for me either, but I was never the one going for a certain look of my résumé, I just trusted my intuition and took it step by step. Or I still do, the journey isn’t over at all.
Broken Pared Ring with Tourmailine
When did you decide to pursue Photography/Set Design, how did your family members and friends respond to this decision?
As I was always the one sewing, crafting, photographing, building stuﬀ, collecting weird objects or talking about all the ideas in my head, it did not come as a surprise for my loved ones. I feel super lucky to come from a family that supported that desire and told me to go for what makes me happy, I know that that’s nothing to be taken for granted. Sometimes it’s very abstract for them to understand my day to day life (even for me, haha) but they are always making an eﬀort.
I've got a lot of friends and family members working in very diﬀerent ﬁelds, which I think is amazing, I love hearing about their day-to-day at their jobs. luckily I've also got a bunch of freelancer and artist friends, which is amazing for supporting each other - exchanging ideas, struggles and celebrating each others achievements. It helps a lot and makes me feel more like a part of something.
Gold Densa Ring - Peridot
Your biggest inspiration for your work at the moment?
Staying inspired has been more challenging than ever for me this past year, but I’m ﬁnding that my love for details really helps here; I can spot a lot of interesting things on my daily walks and bike rides - sometimes something as trivial as a puddle, leafs and some plastic trash, beautifully reﬂecting the light can go a long way. I’m documenting those walks with my ﬁlm camera to memorize and potentially use for my work.
I’m also forever inspired by nature: the shape of a certain plant or piece of vegetable can keep me staring at it for minutes in awe, so I’m trying to be in touch with that a lot.
Apart from that, I also (re-)discovered all the amazing books I already own, so much history and knowledge, right in front of me. Lately I’ve been into costume design a lot and a guilty pleasure: I browse Ebay Kleinanzeigen like a museum, I just have a fascination for objects, their reason for existing, how and why they were made, their shapes, colours, owners and history. And sometimes I really need to take them home.
Textured Linea Ring - Gold Vermeil
How would you describe your personal style, does this style inﬂuence your work?
My style and work deﬁnitely go hand in hand. I go through diﬀerent color phases and naturally see those in both my work and they way I dress. I've always loved clothing/fashion, as a way to express myself and play around with diﬀerent textures, colours and styles. It allows me to be creative and re-invent myself on a daily basis. And like my props, I love clothes with a history, I buy a lot of vintage and mix diﬀerent eras.
Best album to listen to whilst creating?
Totally depends on what I’m working on and the way I’m feeling. Right now 'New Energy' by Four Tet is very suitable.
Textured c/o Claavi Ring - Gold Vermeil
Tried and true methods against creative block?
Getting outside and moving. ALWAYS. Gardening and caring about my plants also really helps a lot. And cooking. In general I ﬁnd physical and sensual tasks to be super helpful if you feel stuck. Chopping veggies or plating with soil allows my mind to let go. And something that is hopefully soon coming and that I miss dearly: Real, physical interactions with a diverse range of people and lifestyles.
What's your most recent achievement?
My little windowsill “garden”.
Textured Jardin Ring