In terms of much longer periods of time in Berlin you are more likely to integrate quickly with artist groups if you can speak and read some German- it sounds obvious at first but very true, it can affect your immediate experience of the city as an artist seeking contacts or events because if you can read the publicity (and there’s a lot of it!) of events which occur daily you can see if its relevant to your genre.
As a ‘visiting artist’ without fluent German I remain outside of certain situations, this can feel somewhat limiting after a few weeks. Arriving from another culture though can have great advantages as was proved when my project was accepted to be shown in a public/governmennt space.
When it comes to offering your artwork to the mix of the international cultural sphere in Germany it feels very comfortably accepted, as though it is no great effort for people to help you. Particularly in the realm of public art, but certainly not exclusively.
Most Germans speak English, but not all, it’s not difficult to communicate and make friends, but the real key to settling and working anywhere abroad longer term is to have a grip on the language and the ability to work with the depth of culture and cross culture which this brings, this can be a very rich experience and it is particularly important with local neighbourhood groups, seminars and lectures. and workshops, it depends what you’re looking for.
Joining a ‘collective’ of international artists is a very good way of finding out more about the wider art scene and also for making further contacts.
Having a part time job to support your practice as an artist here even on a casual basis requires some German, there is no doubt of that.
With regard to language and work, English has been viewed and used in business for a good while now as the ‘business language’ and you hear this when walking through any European citiy. If two or more people don’t speak each other’s language they will converse in English. Many German organisations are moving into a bilingual sphere with this in mind, with on-line publicity and with some printed matter in the arts becoming more commonplace.
For the resident German artist there are well structured organisations for the profession (BBK for example) But like other European countries many artists work part time in a variety of jobs, casual or otherwise to support their practice.
It’s worth exploring the web for oppotunities in Europe, this page from the Trans- Arts site has often given me ideas and prompted me to contact people who work here in Berlin
Also helpful is the BBK artists archive if there is a view to collaborate or find contacts generally in Germany. It is in German but it’s not difficult to navigate.