Interview by Glenn Sakamoto
Lizzy is a talented surfer/artist living and surfing in Portugal. Her colorful and iconic graphic work is at once both traditional and modern and reflects her interest in our connectedness to nature. We spoke with her to learn more.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in a rural area called Marinha Grande, which is located in the center of Portugal. I had space to play amongst nature and the animals with my sister, cousin and friends. We were very free to explore and have fun.
What inspired you to begin creating art? Where were you educated?
Drawing was always part of my life and one of my favorite hobbies.
When I graduated with a masters degree in marketing and environmental tourism, a friend of mine showed me the work of a surf illustrator and everything clicked. I was living and studying in Peniche to be close to the ocean and I could surf anytime I wanted. I realized then that that could be my path and I started drawing again. This was in 2013.
What do you hope to create in the mind of the person viewing your art?
I only can draw if I’m at peace with myself and when I feel like drawing. This is the time I can receive some message or inner inspiration. I draw as a way of expelling the energy I feel inside me. It’s never rational. It’s more like a need to let my emotions go. It’s a kind of therapy for me. I’m not looking to please everyone, but simply to unblock my energy. Fortunately the public seems to enjoy the final result.
Who/what inspires your art?
Sometimes I find the perfect energy in the beauty around me. I’m very visual, so I am easily inspired by the patterns and details of natural elements, a surf session and by photographs, especially vintage pictures.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how does it influence your life?
Surfing is my life. I can’t be far from the ocean or I literally get sick. I have salt in my blood. I must be in the ocean daily and sleep for 7 hours. It’s the only thing I need to be healthy. By making the decision to become a surfer, it has determined all of the choices in my life – the place I chose to live, my career, my daily routines and the people around me. Surfing has made me what I am today.
Tell us about the surf culture in Portugal…
I’m a history and stories lover, so I love everything about surf culture. In Portugal there aren't many generations of surfers, so we are creating our own authentic surf culture. Surfing appeared in Portugal in the 60s, but it wasn’t until after the Freedom Revolution in 1974 that it started to grow. Even though the Portugueses were sea explorers, surfing was not accessible to the families living by the shore. The sea was seen as a source of resources and not as a playground. Now some kids are in the third generation surfing in their families, but we still have a long way to go to teach ocean literacy so the festivals and surf gatherings are important in Portugal. And as far as Andin Peniche, which is still a fishing town, even more so.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
I love the Amazon jungle, it was the most unique place I’ve ever been. It’s where I felt truly connected and with a sense of purpose in the world. It’s where I felt my animality, and my energy was flowing like nowhere else, boiling, excited by the moment. I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years, but there I fished and I didn't feel bad about it, as we were only taking what we needed to survive. In the jungle, we are not above any species – we are at the same level. We have to respect all beings and be aware that we can be easily killed, even by an insect. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed by all of the nature. All that noise that goes on at night. It shows us our place, our limitations, and smallness and it teaches us about humbleness.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
To surf in warm waters without wetsuit so i can feel the effervescence of the water on my skin. Ohh, I love it!
What “Golden Rule” do you live by?
Freedom to do and to be what I want. I feel blessed by being born in a free part of the world and in a land of opportunities. We have to be committed to this as we are the luckiest people in the world and by gratitude we have to live a great life, and help out the others achieving it as well. And by “great” I don't mean rich, but having a meaningful life.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
My favorite surf spot is in Peniche where I surf with my friends, lately with a longboard.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
Ishita Malavita, the first surfer girl in India. She is an inspiration for all Indian girls and Muslim women. Belinda Baggs is an amazing longboarder, mother and environmental activist. These two are my female inspirations.
What's your favorite meal? What’s on your music playlist lately?
I’m not sure about my favorite meal, but I know that I cannot live without soup! I love homemade food with organic vegetables. I love to cook and to grow my veggies, and the best feeling is going to the field to pick something to cook.
Latest Playlist - Oh Wonder.
What are you most grateful for?
For living in Europe, the land of opportunities. I can be and do what I want with no repression, war or hunger. This gives me the time and freedom to help out changing the things for the best. That’s the responsibility of those who live in the richest part of the world.
What’s next for Lizzy?
I’m not planning any particular kind of future. But I am planning to create a children’s book about plastics in the ocean. And for sure I want to travel more and paint more walls all over the many continents!