It is the work of an author to create a world. To show us lives of those that are different from ours. To interweave stories like vines climbing on the bark of a tree. To tell of love, to tell of loss and everything in between. Some stories feel like a reality that exists far away, if a reality at all. Other stories stand close to our own; like a breath on the back of our neck sending a chill down our spine. And some stories are our own to tell - moments in our existence so vivid, so powerful, that they carved a path from then to now. This is one of those stories.
It's an authentic tale of an authentic boy who knows his heart and his head. A boy who knows what it feels like to be hypnotised by creativity, but also knows the pain that life can confront you with. A boy who dreams, who creates and who loves. A boy who has experienced loss and tragedy, but found strength within himself and his family in order to see his way through, and reach a point where he is stronger than ever. A boy who pursues the things that his heart beats for. A boy who stumbled into the author that wanted to tell his tale.
This is Ferdinand Schladitz’s story, written with a lens by the eyes and the heart of Milena Wojhan.
Who is Ferdinand?
Oh, that's a hard one. I would say he is a very liberal minded person, with a open and creative mind who speaks out what he is thinking. He is interested and keen on art and music, which dominates his life most of the time. I would say too that he does not fit in a special group of people or genre, and stays authentic as a person. That's the point which seperates him from the general 18 year old teenager nowdays I would say. But to subsume it, I can say he is a relatively normal teenager with all the problems and things a 18 year old boy has to deal with in his age.
Describe what it felt like when you were in front of the lens for Milena?
It was a completely new situation for me, because it was the first time in my life I‘ve stood in front of a lens. I was rather interested in the whole process, the work and what the result would be afterwards. It felt strangely quite normal, from the first moment Milena gave me a chilled feeling.To summarise, it was a great experience for me and one I will hopefully do more often.
Has growing up in a rural area influenced your dreams for the future?
It's probably not as rural as you imagine. It's a small province town in the south of Munich. It fills that gap between the big city and the strongly countrified bavarian landscape; where cows are standing on fields of grass and there's farms everywhere. It has not influenced my future plans and dreams a lot. Only in the fact that I want to live in a big city when I am going to study later, like Berlin or Cologne. To get the experience and to know what it's like to live in such a big city. I'd love to travel around the world in the future to see other countries and their different cultures. It can be extremely boring sometimes in the countryside and very one-sided if you live here. In the future l'll surely come back to my roots and will live in a quite rural area again; maybe with my own family then.
How does it make you feel when you’re making art?
Art is my tool to express myself as a person, and my feelings in the moment come together with colours, forms and creative ideas. When I'm sketching or drawing something, I am totally free of thoughts in my mind, and only need to concentrate on the painting I'm drawing. I have that feeling of freedom, because no one can take my imagination and fantasy away from me, as it's in my head. This feeling makes me very happy and free.
Who is your favourite musician?
There are so many great musicians in the world, but for me firstly, The Notorious B.I.G is one of my favourite musicians. I think he influenced the whole hip hop scene a lot in the 90s. If you look at the fact he just released only two albums in his lifetime before he was shot, which are now one of the most heard hip hop albums ever. He will stay as a legend forever, in hip hop cluture and for me.
What attracts you to the 90s music you sample, would you say you’re nostalgic for another time?
I don't particularly sample 90s music, I use any kind of music, but in the 90s way, with a MPC2000xl from akai. So that I will get the raw 90s hip hop boom-bap sound like Nas has got for example. There isn't any special attraction, I just like the music and the sound it brings with. Maybe I am a little bit nostalgic for the 90s hip hop culture, I love the clothes and the style a lot and the art with its own specific graffiti styles.
How has the loss of your dad influenced who you are?
It was a really tough and hard time after he died, especially because I was such a young teenager. In this short time I have learned a lot about confidence and familiarity, who you can count on and who is your real friend. It made me much more grown-up than I was before, and I learnt to reach adulthood really quick through that whole thing. For another person from the outside, it's hard to empathise without that experience. That was my biggest problem with it, but now I'm slightly happy I had the experience so early in my life. It taught me a lot, which someone else may never learn at all throughout their life.
Describe your relationship with “the greatest mum in the world”?
My relationship with my mum is very strong and deep, I would say. She gives me energy when I am mad and she picks me up when I'm not in such a good mood. I can tell her everything that I do and can trust her totally - even if I'm in big trouble or it's bad news. She educated me in a very free way, so I could do what I wanted to do throughout my childhood. That made me learn early to stand for the consequences my mistakes can bring. Sometimes I argue with her too, but that's just normal. Most of the time we are together we're fine and have fun. She made me person that I am today, and I am very thankful for that. This in whole makes her the greatest mum in the world for me. Thank you mum!
What are some of the highlights of growing up with three brothers?
Each of us have a three year distance to the next brother, so we weren't really interested in the same things or toys when we were growing up. Music was the thing we all liked. When you're four boys in total, there's a lot of male energy. This drove my mum crazy sometimes, but it can be good too. It's great that you have three people who have your back to help you out when you're in trouble and three people who are there for you when you need them.
What does the future hold for Ferdinand?
Firstly, I want to graduate from the school of arts I go to, which will hopefully be good. After wards I want to travel around the world for a few months and then go to an academy for arts, so that I can become a freelance artist afterwards. I haven't made any further future visions for now, but who knows what will be in a few years.
Interview by Matthew Regan
Above introduction by Joseph Shields