Interview with a storyteller

So, how did you end up as a storyteller?“.

This is the point  I either dream up a fantastic story of glory or just tell you what I remember and think about it. I’ll save the fairy tales for “tales of..“.

I can remember from my days at school, I hated all kinds of performances, feared it and I never participated in the school plays. But somewhere along the path this fright headed out the back door. I think it was when I was 12 years old. I started playing RPGs and found great pleasure in being both a player and a game master. I started making elaborate story lines and played with my friends many hours every week. This was just the beginning, for after RPGs came LARP and LARP sparked an interest in theatre, acting and storytelling, which in turn sent me onwards to take one year of theatre school, at one of our famous Folk High Schools. This of course strengthened my path to become a performance artist. After that year I acted in small underground plays, in commercials, children’s TV-series and played a lot of musical concerts with various bands and projects. For the most part the storytelling was nothing but a hobby, telling a few stories at parties, festivals or just late evenings with friends. Now, nearly ten years later it has finally become my job. I no longer need extra jobs to keep the wheels running, nothing that usurps my inspirational energy, just me and my stories.

But when I look back to the life I have lived, I can see that I have been quite a different life from what my friends have. I have been living on less money a year than some of my friends earn in a few months, and still I am on a very low budget. One good reason why I finally managed to climb the hill of professionals is that I have been saving a lot of money by living as cheap as possible. I lived for two years with my grand mother, it was a win-win situation. She got some one too look after her, go shopping, making food and of course to keep her company. I on the other hand got to know her better than ever before and I got free food and living. Before and after that I have lived in various cheap collective apartments. Sometimes having only 3 square meters for my self. As a storyteller I have been lucky, because I don’t need much space to practice, but a band or a painter will need that extra room. Rooms are expensive too. And to be clear about it:

“Art and luxury has little in common”.

I have never had the newest technology and rarely had enough money to  buy my friends round after round with beer.

It basically comes down to economy, time and energy. To be a young and aspiring artist of any kind of art is like being doomed to be poor and having little spare time. For while doing art you also need a job on the side. In the beginning it is rather opposite, you are working but doing some art on the side. The main problem can be formulated like this:

“If you work too much you don’t have enough energy to do art, but if you do too much art you will probably not have enough money to pay your rent.”

I have been working in a kinder garden alongside being an artist for somewhat 10 years. Now i don’t have to do that any more. But still i live on a very low budged. 1/3 or less of what people generally earn in this rich country.

Not having to rely on a normal job has given me a huge amount of hours free to do art and I try to spend them well. My favourite activity is to extend my knowledge of  art, culture and nature, or actually just the process of learning any thing, that I consider worth learning. This thirst for knowledge has also been one of my major “engines” that has made it possible for me to do what I do. I might not have lots of official education, but I have educated my self, created my own school of life by reading, experimenting, travelling and learning from friends and family.

To sum it all up I can safely say that the secret is to cut down on all costs, educate your self and never give up, but..

“I would not have gotten there, without all the support from my family and friends.”

If you want to become an artist you will need a lot of help from a lot of friends. Friends that can buy you a beer every now and then. That can lend you a bed when you have nowhere to live. That can teach you and learn from you. That can inspire you and make art with you.


Photos were taken by Elin K. Nilsen.