Artist Profile-Maia Negre
If you live in Santa Cruz and you’re not an ocean lover, you should get your head checked…immediately. Other than scrooge-like land lubbers, it’s not a stretch to say that our local community has saltwater flowing through its collective veins. This affinity for the sea has produced countless Santa Cruz-centric surf films, brands, musicians, shapers, and artists. One such artist is the wonderful Maia Negre, whose dreamy oceanic artworks are truly are a sight to see.
Maia is a jewel in the Santa Cruz surf art scene, which includes artists like Tim Ward and F.J. Anderson. She brings a unique blend of photorealistic and abstract surfscapes to her art. The flowing lines in her wave paintings evoke a sense of movement, and much like a wave, they seem to carry you with them as you experience her artistry.
The following is an up-close and personal look into the world of an inspirational and sweeter- than- honey artist.
Let’s start from scratch. Who are you and what do you do?
I’m an artist, and I paint. For most of my career I’ve worked on canvas or on paper. I’ve recently started painting on wood, which I’m really loving at the moment. I’ve also painted surfboards, done a large-scale glass mosaic, as well as a public mural project in Capitola. I’ll hopefully be doing more mural projects in the very near future.
Very nice. How did you decide to become a professional artist?
I do it because I love doing it. Always felt like it was absolutely what I was meant to be doing.
How do you work?
Mostly I paint indoors in my studio, where the lighting and environment is consistent, but the source of my inspiration comes from the outdoors – especially from the ocean. I also usually work listening to music and drinking lots of coffee.
Sounds like a good set-up. So, can you tell me a bit about your background and introduction to art?
My earliest training in art began at 5 or 6 years old, when I started playing piano and reading, writing, and composing music. Being born into a culturally diverse family (my mother is from Hong Kong, and my father is from France), some of my earliest memories were communicating non-verbally to my non-English-speaking grandparents and extended overseas family. Art and music bridged any cultural language barriers, so I’d play them music, sing, draw them pictures – mostly all expressions of love.
The reason my parents named me Maia, was because it was a name both the Chinese side and French side could pronounce.
In my late teens, I started surfing and taking college art classes. I later got my degree in Fine Art from San Jose State University and with a minor in business. I’ve been a full- time artist, pretty much ever since then.
In your eyes, what’s integral to the work of an artist?
Inspiration, time, and space to create.
What about an artist’s role in society?
I think the artist’s role is to inspire and innovate. We are all artists on some level, and we can all remind each other how important it is to be creative and unique – in whatever field we might be in.
How has your practice change over time and what art do you most identify with?
I think my practice has just gotten more refined and consistent over time, evolving with experiences and influences in my life.
I love art that evokes a sense of wonder. Art that is beautiful and inspiring – I think the world needs a lot more of that.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
Having courage, trusting the process, following your heart. Having the tenacity to keep doing what you’re doing and being true to yourself.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
The sense of serenity, joy and appreciation people have when connecting to my work, gives me a feeling I don’t even have the words to express. It’s a beautiful cycle and inspires me to keep creating.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Not at all! My life, as an artist, has connected me with more people than I would have ever imagined, and on very beautiful and meaningful level. The time I get to create, when it’s just me, my brush and the canvas, is always a time I look forward to – and every part of the process.
Note- Maia’s partnered up with Merge4 Socks, you now you can actually slide your feet into the tube in the comfort of your home, (and wear them anywhere! 😉 Merge4Socks are available at Santa Cruz Boardroom, SC Apparel, O’neill Surf Shops, Buell, Pacific Wave and more.)
Come meet Maia at her booth at the Capitola Art and Wine Festival, September 8th and 9th in front of Zelda’s on the Esplanade.
And follow her on Instagram @maianegre