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Freedivers may have seen the stunning artwork by Naomi Gittoes, an artist who has transferred her artwork onto freediving fins and clothing. We’ve caught up with her for a quick interview about her muses, methods, and love of the underwater world.
Hey Naomi, thanks for chatting with us. Can you please tell us a bit about who you are, what you do, and where you’re based?
I’m on a mission to inspire! I am a 32-year-old Australian artist who has travelled the world, adventured a lot, lived by the sea and dived its depths since a young age. I am a lover and philosopher at heart who has a passion to share her creativity, connection, and curiosity of the wonderful universe we live in.
Tell us a bit about how you first fell in love with the ocean.
I was lucky enough to grow up by the beach in a small town surrounded by nature. I would catch a ferry to school each day, and dolphins would often follow us. We were lucky–so lucky–to be exposed to the ocean in the way we were. It’s part of me. When I am happy, I go to the ocean. When I am sad, I go to the ocean. From a very young age I learned that the ocean heals me and embraces me in a way nothing else can. There, I feel at home. That feeling has never left.
Your artwork is so unique. Can you please tell us about how you became inspired to put your artwork onto freediving fins?
Before the fins, I painted surfboards. Making functional art makes sense to me. I want my art to be accessible and enjoyed by a wide demographic of people. I started creating very young. I left school early and travelled with my paintbrushes in my bag. I wanted to dive, so I would trade my artworks–especially murals–for diving opportunities and this opened the doors for me. I travelled the world for 10 years diving and painting–for me, the perfect combination!
In 2012, I was completing my freediving instructor course in Dahab, Egypt and at that time I did not own any fins. I contacted DiveR Australia with a proposal to sponsor me. Ray from DiveR was happy to, and we made the first set of art fins together. They looked amazing–in a league of their own. So many more fin designs followed. Now, I do special commission fin artworks, as well as design for DiveR.
That’s so cool. It’s inspiring that you took the leap to combine your two passions in a way where one supports the other.
Aside from the fins, your eco-friendly leggings are so bright and joyful. How did you come up with the idea to design them?
I wanted to create something comfortable and practical for sporty people in real world environments, without creating products that were detrimental to our beautiful planet.
I spent a long time researching and experimenting with textiles and methods to make sustainable fashion.
My collection is growing and I’m so happy to say that it is Australian made, ethical, and made with materials that do not cost the earth.
I’m looking forward to sharing with you the new additions coming for men and women very soon.
We can’t wait! How do you come up with new ideas and what are your favorite materials to use?
I cross over a lot of different disciplines of art and design, just about anything creative I’m into! I love experimenting with new materials and mediums from performance to paint, I just love it.
For me, dropping into the creative flow is not hard. I have shaped my life to support me as an artist. I work a lot but it does not feel like work: with the music on, incense burning, kettle boiling, time forgotten–I am in my own trance. I have a blessed life.
Keeping that balance is important for someone who needs to be in the creative flow every day. Being grounded and organised is essential to being a successful artist. But most important is trusting the process and letting your ideas flow from the heart.
Where is your favourite place in the world to freedive?
Mexico! The cenotes have my heart for eternity. I love that place so, so much.
What’s it like diving there? The cenotes seem like such a surreal space.
It feels like being wrapped in mother nature’s arms–like being in the womb of the earth.
The cold fresh water of the cenotes is like no other I know, there is a special magic there that is transformational. As well as a freediver I am a full cave diver and have explored many of the Yucatan’s cave systems. The grand design of nature is spectacular and I feel so privileged to be among the few that have had such intimate encounters with the cenotes and caves of Mexico in the early days, when they were still a “bit” of a secret…
We’ll let you get back to creating more artwork for us to admire. Thanks for chatting with us, Naomi! Happy diving.
You can purchase artwork, freediving fins, and clothing on Naomigittoes.com. Follow her on Instagram @naomigittoes. You can also commission artwork directly via email at naomi (at) naomigittoes (dot) com.