lovealwaysheather

I’m a real boy, A REAL BOY! I mean… ARTIST.

If you’ve been reading my blog posts at all, you know that I’ve been stressed out of my mind about obtaining an Artist Visa, here in Berlin. WELL, guess what? This Thursday, I was granted the visa for a year and I couldn’t be any more excited and grateful. I am overwhelmed with all sorts of good feelings, and I am ready to truly begin my journey here. BUT, before I do that, I would like to share my experience. Maybe you’re reading this and have questions, maybe you’re confused about the process, maybe you just need some positivity. Well, here you go! (Anything in blue is a direct link, so click away.)

  • First of all, do not waste time by holding off on making an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde. It can take a while, depending on the season. Just don’t risk it. I couldn’t get an appointment for a month, and if you have to start working right away, a month can be a long and grueling time to wait. It’s very easy though, and the site is in both german and english. Here is a direct link to booking an appointment. You’ll get an email confirmation and a ready to print checklist of what you will need to bring with you:
  1. Valid Passport
  2. 1 current biometric photo (You can get these done at any of the “Fotofix” photo booths around Berlin.
  3. Financing Plan
  4. Revenue Forecast
  5. CV & Portfolio
  6. Health Insurance
  7. Registered residence in Berlin
  8. Application
  9. Business Plan is not required, however, I strongly recommend you have one. My case worker was very happy to have me offer it to her along with the other paperwork.
  10. Letters of intent
  • Now that you have an appointment, ask a german friend to come with you as your translator. Obviously if you speak german well enough, you can go by yourself. But, if you don’t, I recommend it. Some people at the Ausländerbehörde do speak english, but others do not. Also, you don’t want to assume that they’ll speak english just to accommodate you.
  • Jump on the Health Insurance train. This can be quite confusing actually. I was confused for days, and many people will have their own experience with what the Ausländerbehörde will accept. Don’t assume the bare minimum will cut it, because it won’t and you will be denied if your health insurance is not adequate enough. To my fellow women, remember to cover pregnancy on your health insurance. Even if you, like myself, are not planning on having any babies in the near future, it is required. Dental is tricky, it is not mandatory but your case worker might hold it against you if you do not have dental coverage. Also, they do not accept travel insurance. If you need help, I strongly recommend reaching out to John Gunn. He will answer all of your health insurance questions as he is a health insurance broker but will NOT charge you for his services. He’s also really friendly. John will point you into the right health insurance plan and even help get the right paperwork needed for your visa appointment.
  • Print out your Bank Statement. This is very important! Your case worker needs to make sure that you won’t become a burden because you don’t have any money left. If you know anything about the social benefits in Germany, you know that they do not want people taking advantage of them. And by people, I mean us expats. Worried that you don’t have enough? Maybe you have some nice family members or friends that can deposit some money into your account for a few days? I had a little over $6,000 in my US account and I believe that if I had more I would have been granted a Visa for a longer duration.
  • Write up a Business Plan. I didn’t use their Business Plan form, but I did make sure to include all of their bullet points in mine. Also, having it in german is even better. I used google translate, which isn’t the best, but it’s better to show them that you are trying to integrate yourself into the german culture than not. Again, this is not required and she didn’t ask me for it, but she did keep it with her while she was making her decision. Things I listed in my business plan: Mission Statement, Objective, Artist History, Market Analysis, Compay Description, Organization & Management Structure, Marketing & Sales, Products or Services, Funding Requests or Needs, Financial Projections, Financing Plan.
  • Print up your CV. Remember that a CV is not a resume, it is lengthier and should really highlight you as an asset to the artist community. (Include in German as well.)
  • Get working on that Portfolio! I included my logo, press photos, band flyers, press write-ups, recommendation letters and CV. Make it look nice! This is one of the major selling points.
  • VERY important: Letters of intent. This isn’t even mentioned as a requirement, however, it is extremely important. As you know, I am a musician, so I wrote to various music venues asking if they were interested in booking me and when I got confirmation, I printed those out. This is proof that you are wanted in Berlin. I printed out the emails themselves and my case worker was fine with that. Maybe you know some german artists here who can write up a letter stating that they are interested in working with you. I recommend 2 letters minimum. I brought 5. You can also reach out to the craigslist artist community if you don’t have any gigs lined up. Lots of people check it out daily, I definitely do.
  • Financing Plan & Revenue Forecast. For the financing plan, I used the form from the website but I also included a paragraph about it in my business plan. For the revenue forecast, I simply made an excel sheet in english and in german for a year. It included income, taxes, health insurance, rent, phone bill and living costs for each month. This should show them that you have thought out your future and are prepared to make a living off of your art.

The day of my appointment, my boyfriend and I arrived 30 minutes early with our german friends. (My boyfriend also had an appointment but for a different type of Visa, a work visa.) We followed the signs to the appropriate building and waiting rooms and waited for our numbers to pop up. You’ll get that information in your confirmation email. My number came up on the board a bit earlier than the scheduled appointment time, so I was glad I was there early. As soon as I got to my designated case workers office, I introduced myself in german and my friend introduced himself as my translator. Smile, and be friendly. Try and show that you want to be a part of the German community, trust me, she was pleased to hear me speak a little german. We sat down and she asked about the type of Visa I was applying for and asked for the application. Lucky for me, she noticed I didn’t really speak german and asked if I would like the interview conducted in english. My german friend said yes. She was then able to direct all of her questions to me, with the occasional translation with my friend for something she didn’t understand. The things she asked for were: Application with biometric photo, passport, health insurance (which she stared at for ages), diploma, photos (Portfolio) and job offers. When she asked me about my diploma I told her I did not have one, as I am a self taught musician, however that’s when I offered her my business plan. She accepted this. I then remembered about all the work I put into my financing plan, so I pulled that out and handed it to her. She accepted this as well. Then she told us that she would have a look over everything and would call us back.

Waiting for my number to pop up again was nerve wrecking. I had no idea what would happen, even though I was quite optimistic. You just never know… About 30 minutes later, my number popped up on the board. I took a deep breath and opened the door. As I walked inside she spoke in german to my friend and handed back all of my paperwork that she had looked through. Then, she handed me my passport with a glorious Visa sticker inside. I must say, my heart did a little dance as I reached for it. And that was it, she gave me a card so that I could pay the fee and I was on my way. Thank you, Universe!

I felt like Pinocchio, “I’m a real boy, A REAL BOY!” Well… Artist.

I hope this post helps you, and I am happy to answer any questions that you may have. I have definitely looked to other bloggers about their experience, and it helped me the most. Best of luck!

Love always,

Heather

https://heathersparx.bandcamp.com

“If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do”

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The Dreaded Week Arrives…

Today is Sunday, the beginning of a new week, but not just any week… THE week I have been dreading. Okay, so maybe not dreading exactly, but I’m definitely not looking forward to it. See, this Thursday I will be getting on the train to get to my Visa appointment at the Foreigners Office, here in Berlin. On one note, I am excited and on the other, I am scared out of my wits. Well, more like nervous.

I have gathered all of the required paperwork and I am still working on my CV but I intend to have that done by tonight. I have learned in the past that procrastination is an ugly friend of mine that always gets the last laugh. Well, not this time! I will have the last laugh, and hopefully it will be with my Visa in hand. I really hope that I am granted my artist visa, and I don’t see why I wouldn’t get it. I am a musician, with plenty of shows played in NY, and I already have 2 letters of intent from Booking Managers in Berlin. So why wouldn’t I be issued an artist Visa?

I will keep you updated, and will definitely share my experience and any tips for all you future visa applicants. We’ve gotta help each other out anyway, right? Until then, keep your fingers crossed for me.

Love always,

Heather

Love

The Visa & Lisa Simpson.

Ah, the journey of getting all my shit together for the Artist Freelance Visa. Let me just say, that it is a whole lot of paperwork. Germans absolutely love it. They LOVE paperwork. Me, I don’t mind it. I like filling things out, and being organized but this Visa thing is something else. Not only do I need to prove that I am in fact an artist, I also need to prove that I’ve got my life together. That I can support myself as an artist. Uh, that sounds like the dream. I mean, being able to say, “I’m an artist and that’s how I make my money” must be nice. And I don’t want to come off negative at all, I’m not! I am enjoying this process, it’s my fight to stay.

Applying for the Artist Visa is pretty straight forward. They tell you exactly what you need, but is that enough? Not really. It’s like food. We need it, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t make our meals presentable just because we need to eat it anyway. We make it look appetizing, make it smell good, we put love into it. I don’t just throw peanut butter on bread because that’ll be good enough. (Unless I’m in a rush, of course.) I toast it, slice up some bananas and put those babies on there, make it better. And that’s what I’m learning with this whole visa application. How can I make myself look better, taste better, be picked amongst all the other peanut butter sandwiches?

I’ve found a whole lot of other people like me. People that want to stay here, people that have fallen in love. And I have to tell you, Berlin is amazing. I’m a New Yorker, born and raised, and I can honestly say that I never want to live in NY again. I love NY, I just can’t see myself living there after experiencing all of this. My life here, although it has been quite short thus far, has surpassed the quality of life that I had in NY. Sorry America. I do miss my family, a lot. And my friends. And maybe the skyline, but that’s pretty much it. Memories. That’s what I miss. But those memories live in my heart.

For now, I need to focus and keep my eye on the prize: My very own artist visa, just for me.

In the words of Lisa Simpson, “If anyone wants me, I’ll be in my room.”

Love always,

Heather

Moody Tuesdays

Am I the only one that finds myself filled with angst and the awful moody blues? I can’t be, right? Am I doing something wrong?  What am I not seeing? I don’t get it. Some days I’m on top of the world, splurring out words of inspirations to the people I love and the next, I’m peeling myself off the floor. Splurring, is that even a real word or did I just make it up? No matter.

I would say that I am quite the positive gal, I’ve always been the go to person when your life is going to shambles, or when you need a quick but meaningful pick me up. I am that girl. But why am I not that, all the time to the one that matters the most, me? I don’t know, but it makes me think of RuPaul. The thing I absolutely love about RuPaul, besides him being so fabulous, is that I can see myself in him. RuPaul understands when his girls are down, because he was down too once. But he was able to rise like a phoenix, and thats what makes me love RuPaul so much. He has risen, but he hasn’t forgotten. People I care about always come to me for advice or some sort of fortune cookie talk (I’m good at that) and I am always there ready to lift them up. I understand their despair, for I feel despaired too, sometimes. My point is, when I fall in this slump, I think of RuPaul and his famous words, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love anyone else?” And that my friends is the truth.

I often fight with myself. I criticize and I bash where it hurts the most. I hurt the artist inside and I question my sanity for choosing the career that I chose. What I need to remember, what we all need to remember is that it’s okay to fall, as long as you pick yourself right back up again. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have loving support all around. (I am that lucky.) In the words of Aaliyah, “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” Ain’t that that the truth.

My reason for writing this post is mostly for myself. I never want to come off as one of those “woe is me” characters, because I’m not naturally like that even though recently I have been a brat. The real me believes in dreams, and magic and chasing what you love. What makes one successful is not what one has materialistically, but how full the heart is with happiness.

Feed your heart with the things it loves the most, and you’ll be able to watch it blossom, as will you.

Love always,

Heather

Egg and cheese with a side of POP

I just finished eating an egg and cheese on a toasted little baguette, the perfect size for this sorta meal. And now I’m sitting in my living room, listening to Katy Perry. The thing about Katy Perry is that while I’m not a big fan of her per say, I do enjoy her music. It’s fun, bubble gum pop. Easy to chew and sweet. It put me in a better mood today. However, it’s hard to type out my thoughts while singing and dancing in my chair. Maybe not the best idea.

Anyway, I feel like I need to move my ass, and not just to this song but after my dreams a bit more. How am I supposed to “make it” if Berlin doesn’t even know WHO I am. How do you do that? How do you introduce yourself to a whole new country? I’m not sure. But as I sit here listening to some more pop music, I think to myself, “I can do it.”

The only thing that could ever stop you from realizing your personal legend is well, YOU. On that note, I’ve begun to read The Alchemist once again. If you haven’t read this book, I strongly encourage you to do so. Whether you’re looking for an answer, reassurance on the direction you’ve chosen or just looking for some inspiration, this book will nail it. I promise you. One of my favorite lines in the book is, “Where your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” So, as long as you listen to your heart and follow the signs that the Universe serves you, you’ll make it. Wherever and whatever that may be. Because, the Universe wants so badly for us to succeed.

That brings me back to the bubble gum pop. I wouldn’t say that I write songs like Katy Perry, I’ve got more of a synth pop groove going, but I would say that I respect her for how far she has come. We all start from the bottom right? This is my bottom, and I’ve got to build a ladder to get to the top. May it be with a sturdy object or a mountain made of obstacles, I will get to the top if it’s the last thing I do.

It is written.

Love always,

Heather

 

And my 28th year approaches

I started off writing this big thing about why I started this blog and all this other junk you probably don’t care about, but then I stopped myself. Because it’s just too much to get into. Here are the facts you should know:

I moved to Berlin from Brooklyn on July 1 with my boyfriend, so, roughly about 2 months ago

I packed all my stuff into 2 suitcases. This is not an easy task. I had to leave a lot of stuff behind, mostly clothes but more importantly my cat. Before you judge me, she has a very nice home now. Much better than my cheap Bushwick apartment that lacked a living room.

My bday is quickly approaching, 4 days and counting. I’ll be 28, what have I got to show? ANXIETY.

My heads still stuck in the clouds and I believe everyone should follow their dreams, aka I am a broke artist still going after that shooting star.

I don’t have a job but I do have an apartment in a very charming neighborhood called Neukölln that I love. (I wonder how I will pay rent in a few months. ANXIETY.)

And lastly, I am a singer trying to get signed to a major record label so that I can continue to follow my dreams and support myself and eat something other than pretzels.

There you have it, me currently. I intend to write everyday and post photos and stuff, maybe if I’m lucky I will have something to show for it after all.

I’m going to sleep now, but I’ll leave you with this song by me.

http://spvrxx.bandcamp.com/track/mod

 

Sweet dreams.

Love always,

Heather