Interview with Robin Lanei Creator of Our Favorite Surf Comics

robinlanei art Solidarity her waves

So, tell us a little about yourself and your creations:

I am a lucky one indeed. Monterey Bay, CA is my home. I am the only child of 2 veterinarians. As a child, I wanted to be an artist and a Power Ranger, specifically the pink one. Memories of my childhood include, karate lessons, ranch calls with my dad and drawing with my mom, lots of time with animals. Hours at the veterinary hospital, I entertained myself with making things out of gauze, q-tips and tongue depressors (those large popsicle sticks) I went in and out of the OR to ask my mom the next step for my origami crane. All the while she’s spaying a cat. I practiced karate and jujutsu for over a decade. I loved snowboarding and was convinced I’d become a professional snowboarder. At 15 years young, I got (reeeeally) into surfing and it was all over. 

Sayulita, Mexico is my home away from home. I went around the world and found a paradise with everything I need. Waves, warmth, community and of course, tacos. I moved in 2012 and worked in a bar here and a surf lesson there. Then, in 2016 I started a funny IG account that gave my life a new direction. 

Robin Lanei surfing on the nose her waves

What inspires your comics and illustrations?

My comics are silly illustrations of my successes and failures in the water.  My surfing friends and IG followers also inspire me with their stories of victory or embarrassment. Also, kooks, duh.  Kooks inspire the hell out of me. But with every experience in surfing, there is some great existential life lesson to be acknowledged. Hence, the surf comics. What makes me so happy is that there are so many surfers (and kooks!) who can also relate to these experiences. Beginner or advanced. Worldwide. I figure if I’m struggling out there, at least 25,000 people have felt the same way.

Robin Lanei art - Get Glad Don't get mad her waves

What is your favorite part of the process when creating something?

The act of creating no matter what it is! It's fun to be inspired and put an idea down in pencil. To work on it, let it change and grow. It’s like a ceremony and mediation mixed with active imagination. Gathering my work tools, what will I need to make this? Pencils? Paint? Or the circular saw and hammer drill. A comic or a mural or a shelf, my state of mind is present and focused on the current project.
Like in surfing, when everything else melts away and you’re just riding the wave, dude. *throws up shaka* 
Except I’m like, sewing a curtain or making spaghetti. Then the deed is done. I get to look at that thing I made, “look, I did the thing.” I’m proud if it’s successful and if I’ve failed, well then I’ve learned something. Oh well, next time. 
Robin Lanei art MXLF18 her waves

What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist and entrepreneur?

I’m lucky to have grown up in a loving family, wanting for not. My parents are happy and healthy. I don’t have student loans. I don’t have kids. I live in a tropical paradise and am only responsible for myself. So, what’s my challenge? To believe in myself, my art and where it could take me. I’m by no means, raking it in. If I don’t try, I don’t fail and I can sustain this fairytale lifestyle.

But how can I grow? 

Gotta try, gotta fail and try again! Don’t be scared! I’m immensely grateful to my family/friends/mentors who are also female business owners. They give me the best advice and encouragement on this entrepreneurial road as I grow my brand and broaden my creative horizon. My mother, Dionne Ybarra, Emily Hunt, Amanda Levett, Brittney Borjeson, Emilia Kauffman, Laetitia Dijan, Krissy Montgomery and Janne Robinson, thank you. 

robinlanei art comic her waves

What is your life ambition?

Shoot-for-the-stars life ambition would be to become financial success and go to space.  And to have a fabulous museum of pink surfboards. 

Robin Lanei art - resting beach face her waves

When did you start surfing and where is your favorite place to surf and favorite board(s) to ride?

15 years, it’s a secret and pink. ;) 

Robin Lanei surfing mexico her waves

Follow Robin: @robinlanei_art

Visit her website and purchase a print:

Her Waves Robin Lanei comic

I’m inspired by the water, the sun, the moon, and the stars. My countless wipeouts, my dreams of noseriding, and the feeling I get when sliding across the face of a wave.

Meg Jacovino