NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

Liis Koger, a poetess and artist living in Tartu is known for her abstract paintings. Her artwork has attended several international exhibitions, auctions and charity events, and next time her paintings will be shown in Italy. What are the daily routines and sources of inspiration for the talented artist?

Profession or calling in life: an artist and a mother

Age: 30

My ideal morning… starts at 5 a.m. I drink a cup of coffee, meditate, set my mind for the day, organize my daily routine, and then myself. I don’t do makeup, but the skincare routine itself is thorough. Then I’ll see if there are any urgent emails and have breakfast. If there’s time left, I’ll do some reading.

The day goes on… The children wake up at 7. At 8 am I take the older (4 years old) one to kindergarten and with the younger (2 years old) we go to the park, from where we return at 9.30 am. Then I start answering e-mails, dealing with the website and social media. I pack and ship artworks as needed. I plan exhibitions, organize transport, write texts and coordinate everything necessary. I discuss some future plans with the galleries and write invoices, do accounting. After that, I’ll take a look if there are any new things needed – usually materials, but recently, the company logo needed an update – or if there are any unusual visits to do in the afternoon (eg to a construction supply store). The child is looking at iPad and there is nothing to do.

At 12 we have lunch, at 13 my 2-year old takes a nap. During 13-15 I create and paint and my phone is on the “airplane mode”, so it is impossible to reach me. After waking up, the kid, Ekkele, has late lunch, by which time I am already taking pictures of the new paintings and setting them up on the website, handing over the packed works to the courier, making the necessary changes on the website and making sure everything is up to date and no urgent e-mails or calls are left unanswered. At 4.30 pm we go to pick up Oskar from the kindergarten, then it is a park and/or city time. At 7 o’clock we will return, have dinner and take care of the children. Laundry ritual and going to bed at 9 pm.

On weekends… I do not rest. I drive once a week, with the children, to Tallinn and back (we live in Tartu) – I also have a babysitter there, whom I use in an inevitable case – if I have to negotiate, do a wall-painting, or have arrangements regarding exhibitions, etc. There is always a reason to bring or something or take something from Tallinn u – it could be a signing of a painting or painting the edges of the frame.  

I paint and work also during weekends, I have never had a vacation and I can’t and don’t want to spend my time “just being”.

Stress is caused… by the body’s reaction. In most cases, this is well managed if the person is able to control their emotions (which should be a natural skill). My Garmin watch shows, for example, that after a glass of wine, my body’s stress level is higher than it is in a mentally stressful situation. This means that in fact, consuming / doing things that are physically harmful to the body is more dangerous than overworking (calmly) / sleeping a little.

But everyday little things can still be annoying, for example, if the iPhone 11 Pro screen breaks when it fells on the floor for the 57th time and the next screen change time is Monday and then you have a week, when you have to do things with broken glass, or when a handbag shrugs from a shoulder to my baby’s nose (when trying to clean up all the ice cream there is on his face) or the buggy cannot be put together because the wheels do not lock and it falls AGAIN against the shopping bag while breaking the eggs in the bag, and so on.

I am motivated.. by the biographies of Elton John’s “Me” and Keith Richards’ “Life”.

I gain inspiration more.. from music than from visual art. Also, from nature. And often – or rather? – I am not “extracting” it, it is “being given”. For a really long time, I didn’t sign my paintings as it was weird for me to do so. It wasn’t until this year when I started signing my artworks. It means that for about 13 years I didn’t do it.

Photo: Ruudu Rahumaru

My role models: I really like this profile of Oprah Instagram, where she has the following: 0.

Favourite musicians: From Estonian musicians, it is Riho Sibul. Last spring, the duo JOYGUNS from Epliku-Võigemasti gave a very good concert at the Endla Theater. Foreign favourites include David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Ferry, Eric Clapton, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Michel Legrand, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Jerry Garcia, Patti Smith, Creedence, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, CREAM… Okay, there are lots of them. Pink Floyd ka. Procol Harum. The Pogues. Peter Gabriel.

A song that could end the day: “The Power Of Love” – Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Favourite Book: There are even more! Some: “The 40 rules of love. A Novel About Rum ”by Elif Shafak; “Silk” Alessandro Baricco; “Magician” John Fowles; “The Eight Faces of Lake Biwa” by Max Dauthendey; “Written on the Body” by Jeanette Winterson; “The Prophet” Kahlil Gibran; The Book of San Michele Axel Munthe; “The Mist of Avalon” Marion Zimmer Bradley. All books by Gabriel García Márquezi. But I would choose to bring Timut Vermes’s “He’s Back” and Artur Alliksaar’s “Sunbeam” a little brighter to this list. Reading for children I prefer Richard Bach’s “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”.

The world would be a better place if people were smarter.

But I believe that the world is already a good enough place, there is no need to “get better” in any way.

It’s just more pleasant to be in the middle of people if they are “better” – maybe good enough, responsible, right, the idea of this beginning of the sentence leads you there. There is nothing wrong with the world and fortunately, you can escape from annoying people.

My superpower: multitasking, obviously.

Next, my work can be seen at the AIAPI (Associazione Internazionale Arti Plastiche Italia) and UNESCO collaboration exhibition Human Rights. The Future’s Shape: Women Can Save The World. Curator: Roberto Ronca. 29.08-4.10.2020 – Campana dei Caduti Foundation, Rovereto, Trento, Italy.

Take a look at Liis Koger artworks