University of Florida - Berlin 2008 Study-Abroad Photojournalism Program

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by Megan Miller

Steven Schwede
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Steven Schwede: Inspired in Berlin

The greater variety of culture and acceptance of art is why Steven Schwede, 32, a German painter, moved to Berlin nine years ago.

He was born in Hamburg, Germany and lived there all of his life, but he wanted a change. Everyone is free to be an individual in Berlin, and there are also greater opportunities for artists, because people appreciate art more in Berlin, Schwede said

Most of his life he has painted.  He remembers painting with his mother at a very young age, and says his creative family is most likely how he got into painting. His grandfather made intricate clocks, and his mother painted and drew.

Politics, history, nature and his own life experiences are what inspire him to create, he said.

Schwede paints photo-realistic, surreal and abstract images at his gallery located in the Prenzlauer-Berg district of former East Berlin. Oil is the only medium Schwede uses, due to the quality of picture that only oil paints can make. 

“Oil is the king of colors,” Schwede says.  Oil paint, he said, can make the best colors and hold its color better over time. It is also one of the most difficult mediums to use, he says, and the technique takes years to master.

Schwede mostly likes to paint outside, on the busy street in front of his gallery with people constantly passing by.

“I like to feel the city,” he said.