Surviving Artists of Copenhagen

Copenhagen wasn’t in the original plan. For over a month, I thought I would spend June break in Budapest, but after checking out train and bus tickets, I discovered that I would spend about the same amount of money on a plane ticket to Copenhagen compared to a train ticket to Budapest. Because I’ve always been interested in visiting a Scandinavian country, it wasn’t hard for me to switch gears.

There is no doubt that Copenhagen is beautiful, especially their infamous canals lined with colorful shops and restaurants. I couldn’t help myself but splurge in a canal boat tour. I arrived for my tour earlier and claimed a seat in the back of the boat so that I could take good photos.

One of the stops on the canal tour was to see the bronze statue of the Little Mermaid perched on the rock. The sculpture was created by a Danish artist, which was inspired by a ballet based off of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, The Little Mermaid. In 1913, the statue was unveiled. There are numerous tours in Copenhagen that include visiting the Little Mermaid.

In addition to the Little Mermaid, there is a statue of the Danish fairy tale author, Hans Christian Andersen, erect in Copenhagen. There is also a major street called H.C. Andersen, which is where the statue is located. After conducting additional research, I discovered that Hans Christian Andersen wrote a lot more than just fairytales but novels and poems as well. He felt passionate about writing a poem that captures the Scandinavian spirit and the relationship between the Nordic countries and cultures. Bearing that in mind, I couldn’t help but sense a spirit of creativity and art in Copenhagen.

In the local hostel, I met a young male artist from Sweden who was taking a four day holiday in Copenhagen to look at the local art. After talking to him for some time, I learned that he was an artist himself and owns an art gallery. However, he also mentioned that he also worked menial jobs in order to pay the bills and survive. He didn’t mind. He would do whatever it took so that he could continue to work on what he truly loves – modern art. I respected that. His passion was evident in the way he talked to me about art, his goals, and the trips he takes for inspiration.

As I continued to explore the streets of Copenhagen, I came across a street artist in one of the squares. She was singing and playing the guitar for the tourists who were just passing by. This is nothing new to me. There are street artists everywhere who look to collect some coinage from tourists. It was her powerful voice that made me stop and listen. After she finished the song, she told everyone that she would play a few songs in both Spanish and English that she wrote. I found myself standing in the square for the next half hour listening to her incredible original songs. Next to me was an Asian tourist who took two pictures of her with his Polaroid camera. Between songs, he dropped one of the pictures in her guitar case. I didn’t have anything creative to give her, but I felt inspired to give her 10 euros and personally wish her the best. She gave me one of her CDs in return. Like the young Swedish artist I met in the hostel, this young woman is a surviving artist who is clearly passionate about her work.

On my final evening in Copenhagen, I took a walk in one of the city parks that’s next to a historical fortification, the Kastellet. As I walked around, I thought about the artists I met in Copenhagen as well as the historical artists, including Hans Christian Andersen who wrote fairytales that captured the entire world. These artists are not starving artists, but rather they are surviving artists who devote hours upon hours to their work and still find ways to make ends meet.

My trip to Copenhagen got me thinking about my future as an artist who’s passionate about writing and photography. As a child and teenager, I enjoyed spending my free time writing stories and taking photos. Now that I’m an adult, I have to think more practically, but the passionate side of me urges me to continue to do what I love. The few days I spent in Copenhagen inspired and encouraged me to continue to do what I love, to not give up, and find a way to balance practical work and passionate work.

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