How about leaving behind fancy city galleries, art studios, and mingling events with other artists, and instead choose a next level artist lifestyle on the beach? The typical artist lifestyle – that could look like a dream for many – ended up consuming Estrid Lutz from the inside, so she decided to design a new lifestyle for herself. It all started from Oaxaca Mexico, where she landed little over two years ago and has stayed ever since.
Estrid Lutz is a rising artist from France who’s had exhibitions around the world. I met her in Puerto Escondido at a friend’s house, where we had a little get together during the corona spring. She came across as an interesting soul, free spirit who is creating an art career from the beach while crafting a lifestyle that suits her wishes.
She inspired me; besides sharing a common fascination for the Pacific Ocean, and love for the tropical nature, we were both exploring different ways of living. She comes from an art background, in which the lifestyle sounds already interesting and alternative with its art studios, galleries, and residencies. It’s a different world from the perspective of an office worker. However, Estrid felt that the city-artist lifestyle didn’t serve her anymore, so a work trip to Mexico became a beginning to a new life filled with inspiration.
Finding the calling at the age of twelve
Estrid knew that she wanted to be an artist already when she was twelve years old; she had a desire to create. She started from studying industrial design and later fine arts in Paris and Los Angeles. In addition to the desire to create, she was curious about looking inside.
“I think I’m very gipsy, I’m from nowhere, and I move a lot. I wanted to have answers about myself, that is why I started to create art”, Estrid describes.
Estrid works in the field of contemporary art, and she wants to connect her work with science, like sociology or ethnology. Two years ago she was working with a topic around bacteria and viruses as part of the “Toxins” exhibition in Berlin. For that exhibition, she made a painting about corona-virus. That sounds pretty crazy when we talk about it at the terrace while the pandemic is storming around the whole globe.
Her work has had a red thread around invisibility. She thinks that in this busy world, people are too often in a survival mode, focused on the same things all over again.
“I want to send a message that there is a lot that we don’t see. Show these invisible lives to people that they have either forgotten or don’t see in their daily life”, she explains.
In Mexico, her work is focused mostly on the ocean, as waves are her current passion. She has taken the role of an anthropologist, working with surfers and learning from people who work with the waves. She is like a chameleon combining multiple fields in her work, looking at things from different perspectives and creating something new out of it. Working in nature has been a great inspiration for her.
Mission to help people to transform
Estrid states that her work is not about aesthetics. She doesn’t want to focus on the surface of things. As a result of this philosophy, she doesn’t want to create art for decoration purposes. Her art is more about action, movement and change.
“I don’t want to produce more beautiful objects to rich people’s walls. What I mean is that I don’t want my art to be just a decoration”, Estrid explains.
She desires that her art can help people to transform. This means that she needs to be able to touch the hearts and minds of ordinary people.
Her interest is not to impress the art scene but to create new discussions and interactions. As we know, a prerequisite for transformation is awareness.
“If I can surprise people, not from an art perspective, but by evoking new ideas or point of views and remind them that we are all freestylers – that would make me super happy. Or if I can open their mind with my experiences and guide them to consider nature, or generate questions around nature”, she expands.
Her mission is connected to how she sees the purpose of life overall. For her, it’s about transformation; changing and evolving mentally and spiritually. As many of us millennials, she doesn’t want to get stuck.
Building a new lifestyle on the beach
Before settling down to Puerto Escondido, Estrid lived typical artist lifestyle; art studio in the city and invitations to do exhibitions. She created art, delivered what was agreed and worked with museums and galleries. She got her pay-check and did it all over again. But the cycle started to feel like a trap, where she ended up repeating herself. People wanted more or less the same stuff from artists’, and she was meeting the needs. Soon this life wasn’t fulfilling for her anymore.
“When I came to Puerto Escondido, I was disgusted by the way the art world works; it’s too superficial and competitive for me. I think I wanted to be somewhere where my inspiration can flow easily and isolate myself. Be alone and be surrounded by strong natural elements like Zicatela wave, it’s been a dream since I was a child. So, I stopped here. Living from inspiration and being more in the present moment has changed my work a lot. Puerto reveals my deep core, rough huh”, Estrid ponders.
For an artist, work and life are very intertwined. You can get inspiration anywhere, anytime. The few times I met up with Estrid, she was always paying attention to what happens around, observing. And she had a pen and paper with her. For Estrid, dreaming is the source of inspiration. If she stops dreaming, she’s not an artist anymore. And dreamers need special environments to flourish.
Estrid still has projects in Europe, and she also works for an industrial company – so deadlines haven’t entirely disappeared. She has more freedom but in a limited framework. However, changing the environment has brought her happiness, inspiration and clarity.
As a result of enhanced clarity, she is attracting the type of projects and people she wants to work with.
Changing the scene has been rewarding, but the transition to a beach lifestyle has also required some practice. Like for many of us who have spent more time in the beach towns of Latin America, it’s a learning process to adjust to the rhythm of life.
“My surfer friend told me the other day that he doesn’t know how to work and that I don’t know how to chill! But I’ve learned a lot about the chill; it’s like an attitude. I was putting a lot of pressure to myself and was overachieving before. But it’s different here. It’s like fuck the traditional career and let’s do things differently”, she describes.
Why grind if you don’t have to? We are programmed to believe that unless we are busy and working hard minimum of 40 hours a week, we are useless. But who says that it’s the right way? Maybe we can achieve more in life by doing a bit less and doing differently. At least we should be able to try and test without feeling bad and guilty.
Julia Cameron, the author of an international best-selling book called “The Artist’s way” tells that creation is a spiritual process that requires a self-loving enthusiasm instead of a mechanical discipline. I believe that this approach could be useful for many, not only artists.
It’s hard to find your own path by following what others are doing
Estrid thinks that it’s healthy to be passionate about something. She was lucky in the sense that she knew her calling already as a kid. And it was clearly an internal calling, not an external expectation. Her passion for art has taught her to love herself more.
If the calling is still on its way, Estrid encourages people to try different things and be multidisciplinary, without a judgement. She talks about harmony and the importance of finding clarity of what you want to do with your life.
There are different ways of living and making money, she says. But how can we find our unique paths, if we just do what everyone else is doing?
“Many of my friends are not so well because they don’t know what they want to do. They don’t like their jobs and their lives that much, so I advise them to look for their passion. It requires courage to take your own path. Sometimes you also need to say fuck off or no thanks. I encourage people to not to be such followers, following everything, the rules, other people”, Estrid states.
Estrid is planning on going to Hawaii islands to do more exploration with the big waves and luxurious nature. She is also dreaming of building a community centre one day, maybe in Mexico. An ocean centre where ocean lovers can get together, share and create without limits.
For the rest of us it’s a good idea to do a regular sanity check, and ask that what are we following again? Is it the usual way flavoured by social conditioning, where navigation happens mostly by autopilot? Or is it our unique path, which we might find by being open-minded, listening to our intuition, and being honest with ourselves.
Are we followers? If yes, what’s the payoff?