We think that the best way to discover Berlin is through the eyes of the people who live here. For our Berlin Portrait series, we’re asking artists, musicians and other interesting locals to introduce us to their corner of the city. Join us as Josh Bauman, cartoonist, illustrator and überlin contributor, shows us around Kreuzberg’s Bergmannkiez and Graefekiez.
My name is Josh Bauman and I’m an American cartoonist and illustrator living and working in Kreuzberg.
How long have you been here?
I’ve been living in Berlin for about six and a half years.
What brought you here?
I initially planned to move to Berlin for a year to improve my German for a PhD program in history. After living here a short time I began to recognise just how special Berlin was. I have always drawn and made comics, even when studying history, but I had never thought about art as a means of supporting myself. The sense of vibrant creativity throughout the city made me feel that if there was ever a chance to pursue a career like cartooning or illustration, Berlin would be the place to try it.
Tell us about your neighbourhood, and what you like about it.
I live around Bergmannkiez but spend every day at my studio in Graefekiez. I can’t say whether I prefer one neighborhood to the other so much as I enjoy the differences between them. It takes me about ten minutes to bike between home and the studio and it really feels like I’m passing between several distinct areas, each with their own character. I love that there are so many small side and back streets only a few metres off my normal route, that seem like such completely different worlds.
What are your five favourite things in your neighbourhoods?
Since May 2010, I’ve been working out of The Cheese Mountain Tragedy studio and gallery that I share with Johan Potma and Wolfgang Reimers. I’m there pretty much all day, every day, and it’s by far the place I spend the most time, whether it’s working or relaxing. I’m definitely biased when it comes to picking my studio, but it really is my favorite place in Berlin.
I love Hudson’s Cakes on Boppstrasse. Few things beat their soups, salads, and sandwiches. There’s always something great to eat there and it’s the perfect place for a cozy lunch away from the studio. I can’t resist topping off lunch with a cookie or brownie.
One of the nicest caffeinated surprises in Kreuzberg is the Coffee Museum. They’ve got a staggering collection of coffee paraphernalia as well as some excellent beans. The owner is really friendly and always enthusiastic about answering questions and demonstrating brewing techniques. There are few places that leave me feeling as excited about coffee!
Viktoriapark is my local park and it’s got a very special place in my heart. For such a small park it’s got quite a diverse landscape. The steep winding paths through the woods alway remind me of a tree fort, and the overall flatness of Berlin makes the steep hills of Viktoriapark the nearest thing to a mountain. Of the things I miss the most about the United States, trees, mountains, and nature rank among the top, and Viktoriapark has got them all.
Last but not least, I love my comic shops! Grober Unfug on Zoessenerstrasse and Modern Graphics on Oranienstrasse are my local shops and I really enjoy stopping in now and then. Both shops have interesting and thoughtful selections of comics and graphics novels, and every time I go, there’s usually something I’ve never seen before.
Follow Josh’s adventures on his daily comic strip, Caffeinated Toothpaste.