Mike & Madeleine Bülow’s work focuses on the study of paint/color itself and the relationship between color, shape, and space. Unlike Josef Albers, who examined the interrelationship between color and shape, he chose a flat, even surface. Mike & Madeleine Bülow go about their work in a completely different way. They do without the flat surface and elevate painting into the third dimension. One might say that her works are sculptures. But this only applies to the process of creation. The pictures by Mike & Madeleine Bülow are photographs, and therefore 2-dimensional representations of 3-dimensional objects, and thus combine with the tradition of depicting space on a flat surface.
Madeleine Bülow was born in Magdeburg in 1978, she experimented a lot with colored pencils in her youth. Around 2001 she developed a strong interest and desire for abstract art and began working with acrylic paint on canvas. In 2004 she moved to Berlin. From 2004 to 2006 she volunteered for an art project for children aged 3-4, in 2012 she started the project „Symphonies of Colors“ with her husband Mike Bülow. She became very involved in experimenting with color, suspended in a fluid medium of her own creation, directly connected to music to create an aesthetic experience, and to pursue a vision of representing music visually. She has participated in many exhibitions, biennials, and art fairs throughout Europe and other parts of the world. For example in Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, London, Salzburg, Florence, Ibiza, Cannes, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna, and Shanghai.
Mike Bülow, born in Zossen in 1974, moved to Berlin in 1985, has a musical background, and has worked with numerous record companies for 30 years. He released 4 albums and 16 singles on labels such as MFS Records, Flesh, Universal Music, Sony, and Warner. He worked with Marcos Lopez and Bernard Sumner from the British band New Order, Armani & Masto (The Sound of Sage 2 – Taxi 4), Masto & Cain for Dream Dance, Berlin Bitch for Universal Music and he had many performances for the Love Parade in Berlin, performances at the E-Werk in Berlin. Also a performance at the music festival in Cannes. He started his career as a photo-artist with the project „Symphonies of Colors“, which he started in 2012 together with his wife Madeleine Bülow. They began experimenting with paint suspended in a liquid medium to create an aesthetic experience. The works have been exhibited all over Europe and the world. For example Salzburg, Berlin, London, Ibiza, Leipzig, Cannes, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna, Hamburg, Florence (Biennale), Shanghai.
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Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Mike & Madeleine Bülow: The story starts about 30 years ago when I started producing music and performing for audiences in the techno scene. I worked for example with Paul van Dyk (E-Werk Berlin), Love Parade, and many other techno DJs and events. I always wanted to see music when I was sitting in front of the mixing desk in the studio, it was a strong desire. But at that time I didn’t know how to make it happen. I only knew one thing, if you really want something, it will come, you have to believe strongly, and keep working with passion. I met my wife in 2012, she is a painter and so we experimented a lot with new techniques to paint far away from traditions. Because music moves through space and that’s exactly how our painting should be, in 3-dimensional space.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Mike & Madeleine Bülow: First of all, it must be said that giving up is not an option. No one has become successful without defeats first. Or rather, as I call it, gaining experience. It’s a matter of how you look at things that happen. We had good support until last year from our art historian and friend Dr. Gerhart Charles Rumpf who sadly passed away last year. He always said. Mike, you just have to keep going and keep going, even if you paint with a hammer all your life you will eventually be successful.
In our case, it was a sensational start – we quickly got good feedback and many followers, e.g. 188,000 on Facebook. However, that was not yet the goal, and we realized that the more you listen, the denser it becomes around you. You need the right people around you, with the right contacts. It takes a lot of networking and a lot of patience. Which is not so easy as an artist with vision 😉
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons you learned from that?
Mike & Madeleine Bülow: I don’t see things like making mistakes as bad, but as an experience, which I can only recommend to everyone. I also think that I gain experience every day. If I stopped doing it, I would stop doing it. It would be like a road without curves. We learn to become better through it.
And I believe that experience is the sum of your mistakes. I also see all these things with a laugh and say to myself, I’ve learned something again. But it should not happen a second time.
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Mike & Madeleine Bülow: Yes we have gained more contacts online. We have done exhibitions online. And we have also had sales. It was unusual at the beginning and we had to adjust a bit. It has been a challenge to do that. It’s important to look at where new paths are emerging and not be afraid to go down them. There have always been difficult times, and there will be again. The important thing is to stick together and respect each other.
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision, or values?
Mike & Madeleine Bülow: The vision we have is most important to us. It shows us where we need to go. It’s like a lighthouse. Visualizing music. It is a life task. And our goal is extremely big! So we have our whole life to do with it. And that’s why it’s about giving the best every day, learning something new, and creating innovation.
What do you consider are your strengths when dealing with staff workers, colleagues, senior management, and customers?
Mike & Madeleine Bülow: Working together in the arts is very difficult and requires compromise. Here, the clarification of the goal is very important. But we are also married, and working together has brought us even closer together. Because we have to be able to clarify things in order to get to the goal. In a company structure, it is perhaps a little easier because there are other structures that solve problems. We as an artist couple have to do this ourselves and deal with it. However, I believe that we have been very successful in the last 10 years, otherwise, we wouldn’t be doing it anymore.
How important do you think it is for a leader to be mindful of his own brand?
Mike & Madeleine Bülow: Very important, because it is my brand. And everything I do should contribute to the well-being and promotion of the company. We are not a company in the true sense of the word, but a pair of artists. However, the structures are similar and the marketing is the same. That’s why we do everything possible to present ourselves in the right way. After all, we want to sell our work.
How would you define “leadership”?
Mike & Madeleine Bülow: The most important thing is to get the best out of everyone. To promote the strengths and use them accordingly. I don’t need to try to shovel with a broom. Everything should be done on an equal footing!
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Mike & Madeleine Bülow: To do what is in the mind and move the heart to implement it. In the beginning, it helps to have blinkers like a racehorse to define the goal. Later, when the goal is fixed, find the right people to help you realize it (network)! Persevere, no matter how bad things get. Always keep the goal in mind!
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Mike & Madeleine Bülow: I love the quote from Albert Einstein. “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous”
It makes me trust and believe that everything I carry inside me will come true.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Mike & Madeleine Bülow for taking the time to do this interview and share their knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Mike & Madeleine Bülow or their company, you can do it through their – Linkedin Page
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