Surf Artist: Céline Chat

Celine Chat is a surfer and artist from France who spends her time travelling the globe in a quest to find good waves to surf and new people to paint. Jealous? Us? Never…

Words by: Elisa Routa

How would you describe yourself?
Curious, life lover, determined, open-minded…

How did you get into painting?
I‘ve always painted but I didn’t have much time to do it before I started to travel around the world. Now I’m always in search of good waves to surf, but I’m also interested in finding out about different cultures and meeting new people. All those discoveries and experiences inspire me.

How did you get into surfing?
I started surfing when I started travelling. I had tried surfing before but it wasn’t easy because I grew up on the Mediterranean cost in South of France. My first real wave surfing was in the Philippines on an island. It is a very special memory for me and it was probably a turning point in my life. Since then, my priorities have been to be close to the ocean and to take time to enjoy every swell that appears!

Did you ever want to be a pro surfer ?
I learnt surfing too late to pretend to be a pro surfer. Surfing is very hard and you learn humility quickly.

When did you decide to commit yourself to painting full time?
I have always painted and liked art. I decided to do it full time since I left university, around 11 years ago.

How would you describe your style of painting? What inspires you?
I try to paint feelings I went through while travelling and surfing. All those discoveries and experiences compose my inspiration. After several months of travelling, I came back with a series of paintings and each one was totally different as they all reflected my lifestyle, my surfing experiences and whichever country I was living in at the time.

For a painter who loves surfing, you must have the best job in the world?
I feel very blessed indeed!

Can you give us a run-down of your average day?
Wake up, check my emails during breakfast, go check the waves. If the surf is not good enough, I’ll go snorkelling; if the surf is good, I’ll go for a surf then head back home for lunch. I’ll spend the afternoon painting then finally go for a ‘sunset surf’ if it’s good!

If you could have a perfect day, what would it include?
Swimming with dolphins, selling a painting, being invited to a festival or to an exhibition somewhere – having an amazing surfing session!

How do you relax when you get the chance?
Yoga and snorkelling.

You’ve travelled a lot. What have been your favourite spots?
I love Lakey Peak in Sumbawa, Indonesia; Lance’s Left in the Mentawais, Indonesia; Rio Nexpa in Mexico; Parlemencia in Guethary, France; and other secrets spots in the Caribbean Islands.

Where was your last trip?
California. I loved it! Good waves, nice landscapes and open-minded people. Surf culture is very big over there. I hope to go back there soon.

Where is the place you’d like to live?
Well, I am actually living in a Caribbean island at the moment! It is really easy living here and the waves are beautiful. I have also lived in Australia for a while and that was so cool as well! California is great too…

Do you do your bit for the environment?
I try to live in the cleanest way possible. I buy things only if I need them. I buy only in the small stores, no big supermarkets. I go to the beach some afternoons to clean it. I always give paintings or prints for charity events when people ask. I don’t waste water. What else…?

You like…
Art, all kind of creations, surfing, oceans, nature, some people, beauty, travelling, discovering, being surprised, freedom…

You dislike…
Wars, bad treatment, starvations, pollutions, cupidity, breach of power, unfairness…

My three suitcase essentials are…
Moisturizing cream, sun cream, toothbrush (with toothpaste).

The five people I would most like to meet…
The people I would love to meet are dead… Out of the people that are still alive, I don’t know. Of course, I would love to go back to a Ben Harper concert or it could be an interesting experience to meet the Dalaï Lama, but I believe in destiny. I think we meet the people we need to meet. The most influential people in your life are the ones you never hear about. Being a ‘celebrity’ certinaly does not mean being an interesting person.

The greatest moment of my life…
An epic surf session at Lakey Peak on the 24th December, 2004: seven hours in the water and some of the biggest waves I have ever surfed…

My biggest fear is….
On my way back from the Mentawais, I took an old wood ferry. I had a one night journey to reach Padang. A big storm surprised us during the night and a flash of lightening almost blasted the boat. The boat was creaking, making horrible sounds and lurching around in the sea for hours. No-one said a word and everyone was silently praying. I thought it might well be my last ever trip…

Life is good when…
There are good waves and love.

Before I die I want to…
Do so many things that I hope I will live until I’m old and in good health!

What’s up next for you this year?
Last year was full of events and I did not have enough time to create. So I’m planning to create a lot this year and I’m looking forward an exhibition taking place at the end of the year.

You can discover more of Céline’s paintings on her website .


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