Luis, Freelance Photographer & Video Artist

„Freelancing is my career“

Luis Artemio is a financial savvy and creative-minded 29-year-old from the US. He studied Film and TV production at New York University (NYU) and attended an abroad program in Prague as part of this studies. For Luis, living in Europe was an intriguing experience. After graduating he opened a video gallery in the Czech Capital. In retrospect, he describes that time period as a „great experience, but not profitable“. In December 2014, he decided to move to Berlin in order to leverage his career. In the interview he speaks about the benefits of networking, his side hustle, and his entrepreneurial ambitions.

Hi Luis, why did you come here? Is Berlin a center of video art?

Berlin is a hotspot, certainly, but I wouldn’t call it the worldwide center. I fell in love with Europe when I came here for the first time, but to be honest, there was no real reason to come to Berlin. I was young, had the freedom of choice and it felt like a good idea to gain experience elsewhere. That’s it.

Since you’re still here it seems you made the right choice. What are you doing in Berlin?

Currently, I am working as a Client Retention Manager for a startup and as a side hustle do freelance work. The clients for the latter usually come from the art or fashion world.

That sounds interesting. What does your company say about the side hustle?

They know about it and they are okay with it.

Wow, that sounds like a forward-thinking company. In Germany side hustles are not really common yet. What is the main advantage for you?

Freelancing is my career. Especially in the world of art, there are sometimes not so many possibilities to work as an employee. Besides I love that I got the chance to live in both worlds. In my circle of friends, I am one of the few who does that. In Berlin it’s sometimes difficult to survive as a freelancer.

Is there a freelance community in Berlin?

Yes, I get all the information I need through my network and also recommendations. The other freelancers come from all over the world, but mostly from Europe.

Do you see cultural differences between foreign and German freelancers?

There are small differences, for sure, but the business mentality is more or less the same.

How did you establish a network in Berlin prior to moving here?

My network in Berlin consisted of the contacts that I made through my video gallery in Prague. That was very important. Networking is essential for the progress of my career.

Talking about mentality, how did you cope with the infamous German bureaucracy?

I found it relatively easy. I am here on a business visa and registering my tax number went smoothly. I do my own tax returns, but I have to admit that sometimes I have the feeling that I am navigating blindly. It definitely helped that I talked to friends about how things work in Germany before I came here.

EY immigration expert Martina:

The residence and work permit for a job as Client Retention Manager is usually restricted to this work. Thus, for freelance work the permit should be extended to allow the freelancing, which required some additional paperwork, but then provides great flexibility.

  Über Martina

EY tax expert Dirk:

It might be worthwhile to have at least for one year a tax advisor looking at the tax return or even let have him prepare the return. This provides the opportunity to eventually gather some tax saving ideas and of course to make sure to be compliant in order to avoid potential tax risks. It is not just Germany, there is still the obligation to file a US tax return, declaring the German income due to US citizenship.

  Über Dirk

You live in Berlin for almost six years now. Are you thinking about going back to the U.S. eventually?

No, especially at this time I am not planning on that at all. I feel myself in a very privileged position to live and work in Europe.

You were talking about your career before. What are your plans for your future?

I am not sure yet, I could very well imagine studying again and just doing something else. But I can also see myself becoming an entrepreneur again. When I lived in Prague, I felt a bit too young for that. Now I have the feeling that it could be the right time.

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