TuCamino Travel works to empower women and bring them together. This being said, we are constantly connecting with creative souls and influential women. I first met Maia Walczak in one of the most wonderful ways, in the ocean in Sayulita, Mexico. We were brought together by our love for surfing and soon after she became a dear friend. This woman is full of passion for life and her wit and charm are captivating. Once I saw her art and illustrations, I was even more in awe. She not only is super talented but incorporates who she is into her art. I asked her a few questions to give you all a better idea of who she is and her views on life and following dreams.
Tell me a little bit about you and your story.
I was born in London to Polish parents. I grew up in the big city, but spent every summer in the forests in rural Poland. I’m pretty sure I loved drawing since I was very young, and the creativity (sometimes random outbursts of it) continued into my teenage years. When I was about 16 I set up a little creative design company with my sister, just for fun. I did art for the last part of high school (A Levels in the UK) and loved how much time I got to spend on it. My speciality at the time was working on really large-scale paintings. Then I went to university, to study something completely different (Hispanic Studies). I lived in Chile for my third year of university and got back into the art a little bit when there, by making some in my spare time.
Then finally, in my very last year of university I went to visit my friend Gloria - who I’d met in Chile – in Australia for a month. We traveled around with sketchpads and surfboards. It was on that trip that I felt I was developing a style in my art. This was a kind of turning point, and I decided on that trip that I wanted to dedicate more time to art. Straight after I came back to the UK, made some more art pieces, walked around London asking cafes and bars if they wanted to exhibit my work, stumbled upon a very cool vegan café in Camden and held a month’s exhibition, which went way better than expected – I sold 5 pieces, and I hadn’t expected to sell anything!
Then a couple of years later, after saving up some money, I decided to quit my full time job at the time, go to Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka for half a year, and then finally attempt to work on art as full time as possible.
3 words to describe you and why:
Haha, I don’t like thinking about words that describe me, so the following are by no means exhaustive but some random ones I can think of off the top of my head.
Creative – I make art and write :)
Nomad – I seem to be moving about so much recently. I’ve lived in a few different places and not sure where I will end up ‘settling’ or if that will ever happen.
Nature lover – I love being in forests, in the sea, in mountains, the sound of rain, wild swimming, surfing, hiking, star gazing, the sound of birdsong, thunderstorms, the smell of earth after the rain, cloud watching, the sunshine, and all that kind of stuff.
What inspires you and what are you passionate about?
The existence of existence is something that fascinates me. It’s easy to think that the fact that this (whatever is in your present awareness as you read these words) is happening is normal. It’s not. The fact that reading these words is happening right now, seeing colour, light, shapes, feeling your butt on the chair. Tasting, smelling, feeling… sensations happening. Emotions happening. Thoughts happening. It’s plain weird and marvelous. The fact that anything exists in the first place is mind boggling, and pretty trippy, and I get a lot of inspiration from the contemplation/realization of that, be it in my writing or art.
Also, I’m inspired by and passionate about nature, and being outdoors as much as possible. I get frustrated when I’m indoors for too long, especially if the sun’s out.
What has been the biggest challenge with following your heart?
I think probably money issues, and wondering if I can have enough of an income to live off what I do. It’s worked for the last few years, though there have certainly been times where I’ve had to go back to live with my parents for a while because I couldn’t afford rent. With the sort of work I do, there are times where you are working on multiple projects and then there can be large periods of lulls. When you’re in the lull it’s so easy to think ‘Oh my god, what am I doing?! What if I never get another commission come through?! I need to find another job asap!!’ But somehow so far I’ve been lucky, and I haven’t had to find another job… yet! Being able to live cheaply is also a great advantage, and I’m pretty good at knowing how to do that.
What advice can you give to young women regarding following their dreams?
There’s two things I want to say about that. Firstly, the more obvious answer: if you have the means to make your dreams a reality, then go for it. We’re all going to die, so why not - if you are able to - celebrate your life experience by doing what it is that you deeply feel you want to do? I absolutely love what I do and feel so fortunate to be able to say that.
However, I also want to say that currently we live in a society – or perhaps social media has created a culture - where there is this kind of pressure to have ‘dreams’ and ‘find your life’s purpose’ etc. This can be extremely confusing, especially if you really don’t know what it is you ‘should’ dedicate your life to.
It’s not essential to have dreams or dedicate your life to anything in particular, and I don’t believe in ‘purpose’.
I’m not saying that you should therefore become passive and carry on doing something that makes you unhappy instead, I’m saying that contentment is key… For example, I know many people who are striving to become something in the name of following their dreams. Their dreams have become their be all and end all, and they won’t be happy until they get there – which of course isn’t true, because as soon as they get there, they’ll be looking to the next goal/dream. The idea that happiness exists in the future is the default way of thinking for humans, and it’s a totally illusive idea. Likewise I know people who are working in a job that can’t be defined as a ‘passion’ or a ‘dream job’ and yet they are content.
And I also know quite a lot of people who have a slight panic within them because they think ‘oh shit, I’m getting older and I still can’t figure out what it is I want to do and dedicate my life to’. Most of their unhappiness is actually caused by such thoughts, as opposed to their actual job/circumstances.
Social media doesn’t help with this, you end up comparing yourself and your life with the people that come up on your feed. Social media is where people show the best of their lives, show off, and display only the good/funny/cool things, so it’s like comparing your body to a Photoshopped model. That body doesn’t actually exist.
With the culture of following your dreams, I’ve also seen a very unpleasant culture of superiority cropping up – where people who have ‘quit their jobs to follow their dreams’ think they are somehow superior and better than people who are not doing that. Your are no better or worse a human being for following your dreams – we are all products of the experiences and influences we’ve had in life, and those experiences will of course lead us to make certain choices over others.
But yes, if you have dreams, make them happen, (I would add here: try to minimize the amount of suffering and destruction you cause through following those dreams – be it to people, animals or planet) and don’t let convention or society’s expectations of what’s normal stop you. There’s a huge buzz to be had from taking practical steps towards realizing your dreams. But likewise don’t follow them blindly, because you’ll miss life in the process. Do it all with a light heart, a pinch of salt and with a lot of love. And don’t forget to wake up from your dreams sometimes – slow down and smell the flowers!
*For more information on Maia Walczak or to check out her work visit www.maiawalczak.com