Interview by Glenn Sakamoto
Daniella Manini is a surfer/illustrator originally from Miraflores, Peru who now calls Southern California her home. Growing up amidst an era of terrorism in her home country, she discovered the wonder of the pen and brush. Today, her drawings and paintings of graphic symbols and surf locations recall 60s pop-art and Swiss modernism. We spoke with her to learn more.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in the height of the era of terrorism in Peru, in Miraflores, Lima. Because government imports were a luxury and so were certain foods, we all had to wait in lines to get certain things like milk. We played a lot outdoors: climbing trees, hide-and-seek, and riding bikes. I went to an English immersion school where we sang the Peruvian and British Anthem at assembly and wore a uniform.
Because of the Shining Path’s (terrorist group) attacks, which included destroying electrical towers around the country, we were regularly without power, especially at night. Going out in the evening was dangerous and my parents had to have a permit to drive after 7 pm. My brother and I did our homework under candlelight and my mom would make up games to keep us entertained before bedtime. It was actually fun. We used to go to the beach a lot. My mom used to take us all the way out in the ocean when we were really young. We had bomb drills at school. I never felt scared. Regardless of the situation I always felt safe and I had a great childhood.
“The room we stayed in had a little area that had a studio filled with gouache paints, markers, ink, brushes, tracing paper, and tons of sketches on the table. When I saw these items, I had this feeling of joy and curiosity and thought, when I grow up I want to do that..”
What inspired you to begin to create art? Where were you educated?
When I was about 8, I went to a sleepover at my friend’s house. A group of us had to stay in a different part of her house that was assigned as an office for the cousins and grandmother. The room we stayed in had a little area that had a studio filled with gouache paints, markers, ink, brushes, tracing paper, and tons of sketches on the table. When I saw these items, I had this feeling of joy and curiosity and thought, when I grow up I want to do that. It turns out that her cousin was in college for graphic design.
I think I was always creating but it wasn't until I got my first in-house advertising job that I realized that I wanted to do art for a living, but not advertising which is what I went to college for. I taught myself some Illustrator and Photoshop and started making the shift from there.
What do you hope to create in the mind of a person viewing your art?
Connection, happiness, companionship
Who/what inspires your art?
Nature, color, places, the sea, feelings, humans.
What brings to you the most happiness in the word?
Warm glassy sea play with my family.
What Golden Rule do you live by?
What you think you become.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out ? and why?
I haven't travelled as much as I wish i had but one of the places that stands out is San Sebastian. I saw an older couple swimming in the freezing water at 8 am in the morning before starting their days. I love how it’s an old beautiful beach town. The food was great, the people were always helpful and happy.
What is your favorite board? Surf spot?
FCD 8'0" Noseglider; Mondos.
What’s your favorite meal? What’s on your playlist lately?
Favorite meal ... Peruvian ceviche mixto with all of its components
I’ve been listening to the Mac Demarco Pandora station A LOT lately.
What are you most grateful for?
So many things. Being able to do what I love for a living, knowing what real love is, living in a place where I feel safe.
What’s next for Daniella Manini?
I just finished working on a Patagonia publication: Swell. Its Liz Clark’s book. I can’t wait for that to be out on the store! Next up for me... I would say bring it on Universe – I'm ready!
Follow Daniela Manini on Instagram @daniellamanini_art and visit her website to buy limited-edition prints at damiellamanini.com/shoppe