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  • Reclaiming the streets: Behind Nat’s empowered female portraits

Street Art

Reclaiming the streets: Behind Nat’s empowered female portraits

Nat's comic book-esque paste-ups have been gracing the streets of Berlin for the last 5 years.

Photo: Makar Artemev

Nat is a born-and-bred Berliner who started out in the street art scene five years ago. Since then, her paste-ups of women, reminiscent of the comic-book heroines Nat admired as a teen, have been popping up around the city more and more. We talk to the emerging street artist about being one of just a handful of women in the scene, what inspires her work, and why she’d never do art full-time.

How did you get into the street art scene?

I met a street artist in 2019, and I was fascinated by what he was doing. It inspired me to try to go out by myself, and I found out that it wasn’t that difficult at all! I liked the adrenaline, but I wasn’t scared of the police. We are not doing anything wrong, we are not damaging anything, and I personally love going around the city and seeing what artworks are there – it brings me joy! This type of art is available to everyone, you don’t have to go to a museum or an exhibition and pay for it – it’s for free and brightens up the city and the people who look at it.

Photo: @nat_at_art

What’s your background?

I was always interested in art. I loved watching animated movies as a child, and I would paint all the Disney princesses. It was always the women who inspired me, already then. In my high school years, I turned to American comic books, like Catwoman and Wonder Woman – all these strong heroines. I would have liked to study art, but unfortunately I didn’t have the necessary support to realize myself in this field. I studied a profession and have worked ever since. I work full-time now as well in a very non-artsy field and art is something I do next to it, at night or on weekends.

Your first paste-ups appeared during Covid and seemed to be inspired by it too: one of your earliest artworks shows a woman and a child with masks on, and then you went into a very different direction with the stunning women you paint today. Can you tell us more about that development?

I liked the adrenaline, but I wasn’t scared of the police.

At the onset of the pandemic, I was in Ecuador and I saw this scene of a mother embracing her child at the airport, both wearing masks. And I thought, what an expressive image of the situation. That was the first work I wanted to share: the fear of what was about to happen but also the mother protecting her child. This picture was then quickly recognised and a lot of people shared it.

I was working with a different technique back then. I hadn’t started with stencils yet, I was drawing with a black pen and went to the copy shop to make copies and then glued those. Then I decided that I’d rather work with stencils and started teaching myself. I was always interested in comics and wanted to do one myself, and so I started drawing these comic-like women. I think all women are beautiful and I find inspiration in them, and at the same time, all of these women are extensions of me and what’s going on inside of me.

Who are these women?

At the beginning, I drew my relatives and friends. Then it was women I saw online and felt like they mirrored something in me. But I would always change something about them.

Photo: Makar Artemev

Why do you think there are so few women in the world of street art?

I cannot answer that easily. It’s probably because not a lot of women dare to go out on the streets, although we are slowly becoming more. Or it’s not that apparent that it’s women behind certain artworks because in the street art scene people often stay invisible. But there are more men active in the street art and graffiti scene, for sure!

Was it difficult to find your place in this ‘man’s world’?

No. I was accepted easily. I never had the feeling that I had to fight for my place there, and I never wanted to fight either. I wanted to do this to have fun and to express something, and I quickly started getting positive feedback from followers saying it inspired them or made them think. That motivated me to go back to the streets with new things to paste. So it’s for fun, but it’s also kind of an addiction, a rush you get. It’s also a kind of self-therapy; you can get everything out of your system – whatever it is you want to say.

What do you want people to take away from your work?

It’s also a kind of self-therapy.

My art is often mirroring my own feelings or the feelings of women around me or generally what is on women’s minds. And my paintings are also loudspeakers; they talk about the things that bother me, that often bother us all. Let that be love or that we are not seen or that we have to fight for our rights. The quotes I use are supposed to reflect and encourage us.

Do you know how people react to your art?

I get positive feedback, even if people see us on the street. But first of all, we rarely meet people at the hours we go on tours and second, we mostly work in Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain where passersby would just say “nice!”. Once, we met a policeman who told me to take it down. But he was kind, too!

Photo: @nat_at_art


I used to go out on my own, even at night, but in the past few years, I’d rather go with others. Okse126, for example, is one of my close friends, and we often go out together on ‘glueing-tours’. We’ve done a lot of collabs, too.

Earlier, you said you didn’t find it hard to establish yourself in the street art scene. Are you faced with challenges in other regards?

I think the pressure of having to pay rent from that would take away the joy.

I don’t find it challenging at all, actually. Not the street art scene at least. It’s hard to get into galleries or to find affordable ateliers. And of course the financial aspect is difficult as an artist, to make a living from your art. That’s why I don’t take steps toward becoming a full-time artist. I think the pressure of having to pay rent from that would take away the joy.

What’s next for you?

At the moment I’m in the process of organizing exhibitions. In September, for berlinartweek, I’m planning a one-day exhibition in Friedrichshain with three other artists. Among other things, I want to experiment more with different materials and develop further. A big wish, but one that still requires some time, is to publish my own comic.