Philipp Mettler is a self confessed lovable idiot but to us, he's an artist with an incredible story.
With a life filled with struggles and grief, he uses his art as his message to the world. We spent some time with him to find out more...
Tell us about the journey that led you to become a full time artist.
I made my first abstract painting a year after my beloved dad died because I felt frozen internally. I held a time consuming management position, was living like a life robot and was searching for a better connection to myself during this intense mourning process. I only started to paint more two years later during lockdown in 2020 living in Cartagena, Colombia inspired by the colours of Getsemani and the talented daughter of my then partner. Soon after, some friends asked me if they could buy my a painting, so I shipped some of them to Switzerland.
I then was blocked from painting for almost a year after having ended the toxic relationship that I was in. In July 2021, in the middle of painting a new artwork one of my then business consulting clients from Switzerland called me and I felt so bothered that I quit my awesome life as a digital nomad the next week. I was very lucky that Tomaz Hipólito, a Portuguese artist and great mentor, believed in my talent and hard work at this moment and enabled me to do an art residency in his studios. I owe Tomaz a lot.
I also owe a lot to Luis Rojas, my brother in law or more precisely my brother from another mother. Luis is an experienced international art producer with whom I work closely. To create art has become an existential must over time. The journey to this is sown with existential situations and lots of coincidences, just like the journey of many artists.
Where did your love and interest for art come from?
As a heavy stutterer, due to having meningitis at birth, I remember my childhood and adolescence as episodes of my life where I wasn’t able to express myself well verbally to the outside world in most situations. Nowadays, I mostly only like to talk when it’s really necessary, most of the time I’m in silence. Music entered into this silence before visual art did. In high school, when I was 16, I used to play the saxophone at a high level. I remember having played an improvised solo and expressed my feelings nonverbally in front of 2500 people; the applause taught me that talking isn’t needed in order to express myself.
How do you want people to feel when they look at your artwork?
I title and describe every artwork with a team of curators to help the viewer feel and interpret them. I just love my artworks though, I usually don’t understand them as they are born out of intuition. This series of digital artworks is entitled free, unfulfilling sexuality. Is freedom a fantasy, just as much as a fulfilling sexuality is unreachable?
The collection uses the clitoris and the testicles as characters to create a unique universe. Diverse questions and versions of this universe are revealed with each artwork, through the variation of visible objects, environments and colours. It affirms that there is a paradox between reaching for one’s sexual desires and achieving life satisfaction. Every piece invites you to question how you place yourself on this balance.
You have many strings to your bow, alongside being an artist. Of all of your passions, which one sets you alive the most?
I am most passionate about exploring and expressing my naked soul. There is a weird side to me that I stopped trying to fully understand. It may have to do with the fact that my dad was schizophrenic. I inherited this weirdness to a healthy extent. You can overcome your traumas and in the first place a healthy egoism is necessary to be a committed artist. I wish to share how I see the world and I’m very passionate about the world I’m living in and how I resonate with it. Once I got to know how amazing it feels to leave my comfort zone again and again I became passionate to explore the yet unknown within me and my surroundings.
Looking back since launching the business, is there anything you would do differently?
I would find an assistant from day one in order to focus mainly on creating new artworks. Since June this year I have worked very closely together with my great remote artistic assistant Léon Blanchard, which gave me a real boost. I would also reduce my living expenses to a minimum from day one. I would trust my creative motor more because once it has started you can’t stop it. I would trust my intuition fully and ask for less artistic advice.
Being an artist has many connotations, one being that it can be a struggle to really make it. What advice would you offer to other aspiring artists?
Have patience with yourself, it is a marathon which takes many years, not a sprint. Check with art professionals if you have talent, are resilient and diligent enough. What also matters is being creative without an audience. If you lack inner strength and are too shy, I definitely advise you to create art as a hobby. If you receive a devastating critique and are in your studio the next day it’s a good sign.
Talk us through an average day in your life
Everyday I firstly focus on three questions: 1. What am I anxious about right now?, 2. What am I upset about right now? And 3, what am I ambitious and excited about right now?
I’m most excited about creating new artworks everyday. Usually I’m most creative early morning and late night and do other tasks in between after a good siesta during the day. I produce more than 50% of my artworks for waste. When I’m in my art studio, I leave my adult self outside to get in a flow state experimenting, exploring and taking risks.
What do you do when you are lacking creativity?
Recently I started to microdose magic truffles, which are legal in the EU. Whenever I can, I go to live concerts and discover new music which I resonate with. I also read books. Living my life to the fullest with all its contradictions and conflicts while being emotionally rooted in myself is what nurtures my creativity the most. Anything can inspire me. My creativity usually starts with deep feelings and ends with a superficial smile.
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
As a visual artist, Instagram is the fastest way to get more visibility. In the end, success is a fruit of talent, hard work and coincidence. My first series of abstract painting was featured in British Vogue, Wired Magazine and World of Interiors Magazine. My Instagram account and also my homepage certainly helped. There are many highly talented artists out there which are all present online and who make good use of the available platforms.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
I had a near death experience back in 2006 when I used to work in Africa. Before I learned how to procrastinate well, I remembered the strong feelings of facing death whenever I lacked motivation. Now my mum is suffering from unhealable lung cancer, she will die soon and I wish to have my first solo show while she is alive. So my honest quote is : Imagine death.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is on your must visit list?
I love this question! I used to live in big cities like New York, Bogotá and in the countryside of the Caribbean and in Tenerife. Currently, I'm a permanent artist in residence on a magic 17th century farm outside Lisbon. Definitely visit both extremes whenever you can!
Next destinations on my list are Cape Verde, Buenos Aires and Kyoto as well as living in a remote tiny house in a sunny place.
What does self care mean to you?
I started to meditate 22 years ago and do it everyday besides doing a long walk on the farm here. I eat plant based food. I stopped drinking alcohol, smoking weed and taking any other illegal substances because I decided not to enter into a self-destructive creative process - I need 100% of my capacity to create great artworks.
Self care is a very intuitive process once you start to listen to your body, mind and soul and enable yourself how to better hold your horses. I have a note on my bathroom mirror that says I'm a lovable idiot. It is crucial how I speak to myself.
Where do you see the brand in the next 5 years?
Ultimately, I wish to contribute to the art canon. I hope to be invited for solo shows in Switzerland and beyond. Out of twenty really good artistic ideas only one survives as it needs to be fundable and has to be original in the art historical view. To create great art is a slow process for good reasons. I currently partly live on my life savings - I used to earn more than ten times what I currently earn. Being creative is an existential journey to discover the yet unknown within me and the world that won’t stop until my last breath.
Where can people find out more?
You can buy unique digital artwork prints and abstract paintings directly through my web shop on philippmettler.com. Follow me on Instagram @philippmettlerstudio. Drop me an email email@example.com or text me on whatsapp +41 76 779 49 78.