In Meet the Artist Vol. 3 we chatted with Ceri Lou of Tropicool Studio. We teamed up with Ceri for our latest eco-friendly collection called Be Kind to the Sea. We instantly fell in love with her retro ocean inspired aesthetic, and knew it would be the perfect fit for our latest design.
I’ve been traveling for over 9 years now. The first few years of my travels I would split my time between 6 or so months working in cafes and surf shops and then the other months I would travel or volunteer in different destinations around the world. Throughout my travels I was always sketching and drawing as something to do. I found myself illustrating surfers or the tropical surroundings I camped out at. Eventually enough people started to ask me if I ever draw designs for t-shirts and one day a brand in Nicaragua reached out and asked me to create some illustrations for their surf shop. From there I realized I could create art, travel, surf and continue this lifestyle without having to go back to Canada each year to save money, I could sustain the lifestyle I always dreamt of and actually be passionate about what I’m doing for work.
- The Ocean plays a big role in your art. Have you always had a passion for the sea? How did you find and cultivate that connection between your art and nature?
I grew up in Scotland and then inland Canada, my connection to the ocean was something I had to find. I was definitely always fascinated by the ocean and surfing culture, I would watch Blue Crush and Soul Surfer every week or sometimes every day after school. It was definitely an inner calling and longing to live by the ocean, I just didn’t completely know it yet. Now that I’ve lived by the sea, there’s no way I would survive without it. I’m 100% an ocean baby and I believe it naturally seeps out into my art style due to my deep love for it. I’m in absolute awe of the ocean and the wildlife & nature that comes with it. The ocean is a magically artistic place infused with textures, lines, wildlife, and movement that immediately triggers inspiration for me.
- Your art has a distinctly tropical retro vibe to it, which we love! How did you find your style and aesthetic?
I believe my travels have influenced my style a lot. My input naturally became my output and I infused my aesthetic with this tropical rustic style. I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico and traveling to tropical surfing destinations around the world. I love old Hawaiian coffee bags and postcards, I also love film photography and old photo journals such as Equator Journal on Instagram. I’m really in love with slow island living, so collectively it has created a retro tropic art style.
- What and/or who are some of your other influences when it comes to creating new designs?
Gosh so many things. I love West African art, Caribbean and Mexican folk art, Tahitian & Polynesian culture, coconuts and tropical fruits, old surf posters, Moroccan colours and terracotta pots, African music, reading sailing/adventure books, or books about different cultures and history.
I love to go on a walk, sit by the beach, or walk through the jungle; listen to the birds, watch the palm trees, or observe the local foliage. I also love to hop on Pinterest (I’m obsessed with Pinterest), scroll through @equator
journal on Instagram, or listen to @waterpeople
podcasts, and after any or all of the above - I often feel quite inspired to create art. It’s a bit of a mix bag but I love all of these things and it often triggers a lot of inspiration.
- It looks like you are able to travel and live on the road quite a bit throughout the year. Any advice for young artists looking to take their passions on the road and work remotely?
After I got my first gig, I started out volunteering for places. I created artwork in exchange for a place to stay and a couple of meals. My artwork ranged from murals, creating a merchandise design, painting signs around their hostel or cafe, making a logo, anything they needed. From there I built up a portfolio while living for free in a cool place, typically with waves to surf nearby. This slowly got the word out there, I started to use Instagram, and I continued to travel around the world for months with less than a $1000 in my bank purely by doing exchange work. Eventually I started to get work inquiries from people seeing my artwork from a previous place I had volunteered at, and luckily I try to spread a positive vibe wherever I go, so both worked in my favour. So my advice would be - travel, build a portfolio, don’t get hung up on money at the start, network and be a kind person while you do it, you’d be surprised with how many people want to support you purely because you’re a nice person.
- Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, Ceri! Are there any questions we may have missed that you'd like to share with our community?
Not a question but a couple of statements - Be kind, happy, and thoughtful. Don’t take life too seriously and don’t get hung up on money or material. Travel, experience, network, and create art to some capacity. If you feel compelled to live your life in a different direction, start heading that way, your inner compass is directing you for a reason - Trust it. We started off as roaming creatures, we aren’t designed to live in a box, enjoy yourself, honestly, authentically, and wholeheartedly.
You can shop the full Be Kind to the Sea collection here