About Daisy

Born in the idyllic countryside of northern Germany with the Name Leopold Maria Tomaschek, Daisy was always deeply curious about life’s mysteries – to the degree of annoying everyone around with unanswerable questions and ideas on how to solve the world’s biggest problems. Brought up in a trusting artistic environment and close to nature, Daisy naturally developed a fine sense for expressing and utilizing his empathy and sensitivity creatively. The in-depth interview with the artist gives deep insight into how Daisy became Daisy, why he ended up in Finland, how life’s swindling highs and dark lows with the strange nature of his mind shaped and continue to influence his artistic journey.

Artist Interview

The most apparent question first: you were not born with the name Daisy, is that your artist alter ego?

No, actually not at all. The name Daisy was given to me one summer night as a nickname from a person I dearly love and it stuck with me. Maybe that is too simple of an answer but at the core, that’s it.

Why did you choose to stick with it, do you not like your real name? It is quite a beautiful name ‘Leopold Maria Tomaschek’ don’t you think?

Nowadays I do indeed like that name, I am also called Leo by my friends but during a very difficult time in my life I did in some way use the name Daisy as a way to separate myself from all the aspects I connected to my real name. It helped me to observe myself and my past experiences from a distance. For some time it also felt like ‘Daisy’ was more authentically representing a feeling of my ‘honest self’. Today I feel equally authentic with either name, the persona Daisy is as much me as my other names are.
After quite a long inner journey the whole concept of identifying with something we could even call ‘a self’ became strange, in some way what I am called by others doesn’t really concern me much.

We are getting ahead of ourselves in the story of that journey. You were born in Germany in the 90s, how did you end up in Finland in 2019?

Yes, I am still young and all is still fresh and simultaneously feels oddly old. I used to have a company with which we designed and built small ecological houses, so-called tinyhomes across Europe. I started to work properly very early for todays standard, with 15 (shakes head), a lot of lucky timing in combination with a lot of work lead to surprising success early on, even teaching at University without having any degree. On one work-trip to Portugal some years into my work, my grandmother passed away and I had to catch a night flight. I had some time to spare in Lisbon – I met Sara there, a travelling Finnish girl. We ended up in a relationship and I moved to Finland a while later. Nowadays we are good friends and I am still grateful that in some way she took me to Finland and introduced me to the country very well – I feel very much at home in Finland now.

How did moving to Finland affect you? Back then you were not working as an artist yet correct?

Correct, I worked as an architectural designer and business owner. I would say moving to Finland made me more peaceful, and more relaxed and I could finally be closer to nature with more space around, something I really disliked about Germany was how packed everything felt. I still worked for my company in Germany and I decided to take a study spot at Aalto University to try and explore what is outside the niche of Architecture I had been in. The combination of studying fulltime, owning a business and a lot of responsibility in some failing projects led, in combination with relationships and other mental health struggles, to a lot of pain and serious burnout. That was the beginning of my re-focus on art.

You are talking about some failures and struggles, how did they lead you ‘back’ to fine art? Did you do art before that actively?

I grew up in an artistic and musical household on a small horse farm in nature and I went to a very artistic and hands-on school, so yes I did always in some way do art also as a child. But through the work, the struggles of growing up really fast and having more responsibility than what was good for me, I really lost that part for about 10 years and the longer this immense inner need to create and express is pushed down the bigger the explosion once it comes back out.

How did that happen? It must have been intense.

I used to meditate a lot as a child because I was obsessed with martial arts and sure enough, all that sensitivity towards myself, my own spiritual experience and this childlike playfulness has come back eventually. But not until life gave me a real good slap in the face. I lost a lot of money with the company, then I lost some important relationships and suddenly it was just me, myself and I alone in Finland + all the demons of my own and my families trauma’s that had been repressed for a few generations. I also worked so hard back then and did the unhealthy things I did to not deal with that part – it’s really dark, it almost killed me a couple of times but I am good friends with it today despite it being scary at times. In part that is due to my art-practice, I used it therapeutically and worked intensively with an amazing Psychoanalyst. I put everything else on hold, University, Work, Relations, it was a real deep dive but the clouds wouldn’t disappear if the wind was not blowing hard enough.

Does that explain why you describe your art as diary entries?

Yes, my art is just me expressing myself as honestly as I can bear it in front of myself. My art is purely for me – it is as if I paint diary entries compulsively and in making a diary one would not think of making it for anyone else. It is also a good way of acknowledging that I relate to my own artwork but what happens when someone sees or judges my work is not up to me. I don’t claim any meaning to my art, I just let you look at my diary and in the best case you see what you need to see most in it through your own lens.

Is that not very anxiety inducing to be vulnerable like that?

In some way, it used to be, yes. Now it isn’t, either way there is always this filter of personal perception that fogs up the mind but of course it is highly vulnerable because people have this tendency to project their own unhealed parts on you once you touch or show them aspects of life they have not yet integrated. There is a good saying for this, that you will get bitten if you try to take someone’s neurosis away. Our brains are not designed to keep us happy, just to keep us in the safety of familiarity.

You talk about mind-fog of perception, meditation and the safety of what is familiar, can you explain that more?

What I mean by fog of perception is the fact that we all perceive the world differently, the question of how the external and the inner world even differs becomes difficult then. I was very much out of touch with my inner intuitive world and yet that is the only reality I really have, the only one I get to experience daily.

Now talking about our brain, we have an ego and we have our ‘thinking brain’, together they are capable of protecting us but through putting us into states of absolute delusion and it’s wonderful for extended crises. My childhood was not always good and without such mechanisms, I would not be here. Like with everything there is a price, a dysregulated nervous system that learned to cope with trauma is utterly unable to handle stillness, peace, or joy properly anymore. And it can feel like fighting a Sisyphean battle with one’s ego until you make friends with it, living with it like you would with a house pet.

To see those parts more clearly I had to understand why I became the way I was and meditation can be great for that. I am not talking about the quick grounding meditation though, I mean some really challenging inner experiences. There are so many ways of entering states of altered consciousness, be it hypnagogic states, wakeful induced lucid sleeping and dreams, psychoanalytical active imagination methods, or hypnotic states – they all have in common that they easily lead down the psychosis-road if you are not careful. In that way, they are even similar to psychedelics.

What is your opinion on psychedelics? Your art is said to sometimes have a bit of a psychedelic or psychotic vibe.

I do think psychedelics can help wake someone up, it’s a fresh layer of snow on the synapses if you shake the snow globe hard enough. Simultaneously I do think that there is a vast difference between professional integration and its therapeutic usage or just tripping. Ultimately I see it as a backdoor to places in ourselves we are often not ready for, meditation is slower, more controlled and much more long-lasting in the way it changes you, there simply is no quick fix to life or its mysteries. I learned it the hard way and always rushed everything. I am glad I had good professional guidance and enough inner suffering that some immense energy was set free so that I could tolerate all that exhausting inner work. Actually many components of psychedelics are naturally occurring in our brain anyway. I have to say that I had more profound and intense experiences sober than anything I ever tried in my youthful naivete.

Do you ever paint from these dream-like states of mind? What inspires you?

No, typically I don’t, but I never paint with a plan so of course things from my unconscious surface and continuously seep into my art. In a sense, it is purely this inner reality, and at times spiritual access to some realm, void, feeling – I don’t know, words are terrible lies when I try to talk about such things. But I do write poetry from my dreams more consciously. Exploring the unconscious and its wisdom fascinates me, especially the feeling that once there is an established relationship to the unconscious the feeling of not knowing and not needing to know anything of certainty creeps up on you.

Other than that I am influenced by spending time in nature, not to incorporate it into my art but just because I feel more at home there. People around me influence me too. Funnily I consume very little art myself apart from music. If someone asked me about stylistic influences I would say the people I met had greater influence than anything else but of course, it happens that people compare my art, it’s colors and style to well known 19th and 20th century painters simply because that is what they know.

If you don’t seek inspiration externally, yet neither try to paint what you do see or experience internally, where does your art come from?

Now this can go either way, some artists claim some higher purpose but I think it is not that deep. I think we humans actually have no idea what’s going on most of the time, we take our species too seriously. The main purpose here is to just be, we just make it so hard for ourselves. My art comes from that place of just ‘being’, to be honest, I have no idea, but when I feel into it and analyze it closely I see many relationships between my art and my life, even the lives of other’s around me with clarity. Maybe even more clarity than when I would just think or meditate about it.

Simply put I just live life. When I procrastinate I paint, when I work I paint, when I avoid my feelings I paint, when I feel them the most I paint, when I sleep I paint in my head, when I live I paint, just the brush I rarely touch.

What do you struggle with still?

I got my inner peace once I started to be kind to peace itself and once I had made enough internal space to hold or let go of all the contradictions and flaws that I experienced in myself and around me. I stopped judging emotions and I accepted that my mind is not capable of ever understanding life’s mystical contradictions and multitudes fully, I can acknowledge them, but logically speaking life does not make sense. It was when I just started feeling my way through life in a brutally honest way that I felt a sense of relief. And I find solace in the expression of what moves me and the world, otherwise, I could not bear feeling myself and my surroundings sensitively and empathically. Maybe my definition of struggle has also shifted, maybe that happens once we go through darkness alone. One thing I struggle with is following through on this inner balance, keeping life simple and calm despite change and uncertainty.

It is a fine line between enjoying the mystical world and being psychotic, grounding activities are absolutely necessary for me, and for that balance, I need a clear mind. The ‘thinking brain’ is not made for mystical experiences, our egos get so scared and we often run around like headless chickens at any sign of significant change, me included until I face any discomfort kindly but head-on and with absolute responsibility.

At times I am still concerned with being myself too much in order to just ‘be’, but in my artistic process, I also notice how any notion of truth is most lost and at the same time most profoundly found in art. Truth and Illusion seem to be the same and that makes my life just some state of reality that doesn’t last forever. To me, my art can be existential, spiritual even like standing under the starry night sky on a mountainside and feeling immensely small, and then again it is just me playing like a little child without a care. It’s a strange life, but oddly freeing.

The experience of time also got all strange, I think that living presently really alleviates most of the known human worries and sufferings. Time doesn’t stop and it’s not in my control but I get to influence how I feel about it and I would even go so far as to say that the experience of time ceases to exist completely on many days. And to make it even weirder with a roundtrip to the beginning of our talk, the experience that there is something like a ‘self’ is utterly impossible to hold onto once I started looking at the endless components we are made out of. Coming to terms with not having any ‘one real self’ weirdly allows this state of ‘being’ to unfold naturally – one of the mentioned contradictory ways I see this world evolving around. And yes, at times all that starts to break my brain, a cold dip in the ice hole is a great way to come back to the ground plus to remember that it doesn’t matter really since death is certain eventually.

The depths you go to in conversation can be mind-bending, time doesn’t exist, a self doesn’t exist, truth and illusion are the same, death is certain, do you still have friends?

Yes of course (laughs). Actually, I feel much more deeply connected to the admittedly fewer people I spend time with these days. It is very few people I share these experiences with to a great depth but I experience love as deeply as I had never expected to from my life. But certainly this deep exploration can make me feel disconnected from the physical reality at worst. I usually sit on a rock for a while, then it’s okay again.

What do you want to say to the world and what is next in your life?

Well I also write a lot, so I guess I have a lot to say but maybe the only important thing:
Be kind to the world including yourself. And maybe I would like to encourage more people to courageously explore their inner worlds because I believe that what we look for is mostly found there.

I also want to thank all my friends and colleagues for organizing and helping with this interview and art-producing aspect, I could tell the world how I care very little about any commercial or performance-related aspects of the ‘art world’ and yet I see it as an act of self-love to do the things that allow me to keep creating. You are part of that, thank you.

What’s next in my life? Probably my morning coffee tomorrow, then I’ll see further.