I met Andy Kirchner on my first trip to Curacao earlier this summer. He was introduced to us as one of the respected local artists of Curacao, recommended by the tourism board and we stopped by his design space to learn more about him. I was so intrigued by his story that I scheduled a follow up interview.
Kirchner aka The Recycled Pirate was formerly a scuba dive instructor and was critically injured in a freak accident diving in which his longtime girlfriend was also killed. He was told that he would never walk again but he refused to accept the diagnosis. Through sheer faith and self-will, he did indeed manage to walk again and was inspired through the process to create 2ndLifeCuracao, which up cycles waste into collectible art.
Kaila: Thanks so much for speaking with me! Would love to hear about what you are working on currently?
Kirchner: I'm currently working on two projects. One is the Recycled Pirate, all about reframing life and changing your life with 'Pirate Systems'. I'm also in the process of rebuilding my website featuring an e-commerce element, featuring socks , t-shirts, postcards, recycled paper and more. I've also been working on increasing my endurance and getting my product sold in more stores.
And potentially there will eventually be a creative communal work place, where people, artists and the people with physical disabilities can come together and develop projects together, with artistic hands-on projects.
Kaila: Have you always lived in Curaçao?Kirchner: I was born here in Curaçao and I went to live in Holland when I was three, came back here when I was nine and I went back to Holland again when I was twelve. I finally returned back to Curaçao just a bit before I turn thirty.
Kaila: Some of your most notable artwork includes your love-lights. Are you creating any additional designs?
Interviewee: Definitely, and we are always focusing on the love lights, since it's an original design that no one else is doing quite the same way. They sell really well.
Kaila: Is there anything interesting going on in the overall art community in Curaçao at the moment?
Kirchner: The awareness of the talented art community here has really increased, and not only in the number of talented artists. Both the local community and tourists are appreciating the local art. I really see a future symbiosis between tourism, environmental activism and the desire of tourists to help the local environment and be a part of a movement. And once figure out how to combine these different elements, we'll really see a symphony being created. Increasingly more and more markets around the world are requesting that I make an appearance, which is really exciting.
Kaila: Awesome I love that! You're also a public speaker, with a TEDX-Talk out and more. What are your upcoming plans for your speaking career?
Kirchner: That's something I'm working on under the Recycled Pirate, and will be pushing this more aggressively in the upcoming year. I really want to make some noise this year!
This year has been an awesome year for the TV show that came out, I received a lot of positive response to that. I've also completed a podcast in Holland - I really feel the forward momentum and also my new postcards with quotes are now available.
I really want to push the Recycled Pirate mindset, that with the right, positive mindset, you can achieve and overcome anything. I can't put enough emphasis on that fact that just seven years ago, I was pronounced dead - I don't want to get emotional over this but it's been quite a journey.
Kaila: I definitely want to help share your message with the world! What else do you want our readers to know?
Kirchner: I love to share my pirate wisdoms with the world, and they are being shared more and more! These are quotes that I write almost daily, and they are all lines that come from my poems. I want to teach people that if they want to discover their power in themselves, and the actual sustainability it all comes from your breathing.
Kaila: I love that; everyone should meditate more.
Kirchner: Sometimes I even try to stay away from the word meditation because some people get intimidated immediately. They think 'I can't do that it's too difficult, I can't be still or I can't get my mind stop.' People come in with those thoughts, because they think meditation is about stopping your thoughts, but your meditation isn't stopping your thoughts it's simply allowing your thoughts, while putting the main focus on your breathing.
Kaila: I love that it's much more simplified.
Kirchner: It really needs to be when you are teaching to teenagers in the classroom. I made this mistake once, there was a girl in my class and I made the error of calling her a boy in front of the class, one of my most embarrassing moments ever! You can actually see it happen in the video of the workshop, the kids are all restless, and then everyone started laughing. However, I just stopped them right in their tracks and had them breathe. Even the videographer said 'I don't know how you did that, but you like shifted the entire energy of the room!
Kaila: Thank you so much for taking the time out to interview with me! Where can our readers find you?