Images courtesy of Veronica Steigner.
The surfing world is full of color, pattern, and adventure. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a surfer girl without a sense of creativity, a bit of wanderlust, and salt in her hair. Veronica Steigner, the artist behind Piña Collective, brings all of these elements together wonderfully in her illustration and photography. It's enough to make me want to jump on a plane to my next destination with a camera, a coconut, and a surfboard. We were intrigued and asked if we could share a bit of her story.
If you could sum up your background in two sentences, what would they be?
Before surfing and after. It opened up so many possibilities, introduced me to the ocean in a whole different way, gave me Inspiration, courage, taught me about myself and the world around me and so much more.
Is there a story behind the name “Piña Collective?”
"Piña" is Spanish and means "pineapple." It all started with some friends on the Canary Islands, when I did an exchange semester, working for Jordi for Surfcamp Las Palmas. He and his now wife let me see the world with their eyes and how they are inspired by the ocean. My friends and I wanted to create a platform for ourselves to show our works, mostly analogue photography, drawings, graphic design stuff and our travel adventures. So this is all Piña Collective.
What was your first experience with the ocean?
I guess I have to ask my mum. We have always been to the ocean since I can remember, and I was fascinated how the ocean can be both calm and soft or angry and loud at times. I was also fascinated of the feeling to float in water, loved to dive like a madman, and even if my lips were blue I wanted to stay.
Your art seems to combine a sense of wanderlust, a spirit of adventure, and a bit of the tropics. What is your biggest inspiration?
The ocean of course as well as the people I meet. Everyone can teach you something, even though you don't notice it at first. The places I see, even if we are just passing through. My sketchbook is some kind of diary that keeps all my thoughts and memories.
Where have your travels taken you, and how have they impacted you?
A huge impact. I learned so much on my travels, and I wouldn't be the person I am today without. It helped me with my biggest decisions and taught me so much about life, being grateful for what I have (also reached), being okay with myself even if I struggle. To work for my goals, because if you try hard you can reach them. I've been on the Canaries for a couple of months, mostly Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, to France and Spain in summer semester breaks (I really love the basque country), to Portugal, Sri Lanka, Java and Bali. But there is so much I haven't seen yet. I really wanna go to Canada and New Zealand, Iceland and California.
Can you describe a typical day, if there is such a thing, in the life of Veronica Steigner?
Ohhhh thats a tricky one, because it depends on where I am and the kind of work I'm doing, whether I'm in an office like the last months for Zealous on Bali doing graphic design; or in a surf camp where you are on the beach all day long, teaching or working as a surf photographer; or simply back home going to university and working to save some money for the next trip.
When life gets tough, what keeps you going?
My mom taught me to fight like a lion for your dreams - if you really want to reach something you can do it. Also looking back once in a while. Be proud of what you've already achieved, even the small things and be grateful for that. Of course, like every one of us, the ocean. The feeling of water rinsing through my hands while paddling, bubbles dancing around you during duck dive, or the stoke of a good wave.
If you could spend a day anywhere in the world, doing anything you’d like, how would you spend it?
That's a hard question. Because this would be a never ending day, at a lot of different places. I would love to go for a surf but I wouldn't know if it would be a cruisey log session and small fun waves or a massive challenging short board session. I know it should be warm, and I would enjoy my coffee in the morning light. I would love to hang around with Randi, Coco, Mareike and Pia to draw and chat, go for a skate session with Jana and the girls or for a surf photography session with my flippers with Mo, Dave and Edu. Do some Yoga with the Soulyoga girls or get lost in working on some designs for Marie zipping a coconut. Or explore new places I've never been to.
So summed up there is no perfect day. It's the feeling with people, places, the small things which makes every day perfect.
What is the last thing someone said to you that left you feeling encouraged?
A simple "thank you" when I opened a door for an old lady at the subway station yesterday. Moments like that help me to keep on spreading positive energy. Of course good feedback or helpful criticism always encourages you to grow out of your comfort zone.
Tell us a bit about your big hopes and dreams.
Dream number one: Live near the coast (with my sister if she still wants to one day) and have a dog named Balu who keeps an eye on me while I'm surfing.
Dream number two: To work for a company close to the ocean, maybe part time and on other days as a surf instructor and yoga teacher so I get challenged in different ways and keep work balanced.
Maddie Buresh is a writer and photographer with an unquenchable desire to explore the great outdoors, from the ocean to the mountains. She finds joy in trying new things, living in community, and crafting stories that encourage people to go outside, have adventures, and enjoy this big, beautiful world.