This week, we got to learn about the artistic journey of Maui resident Leihha Organna. As an avid surfer and skater, Leihha talks about her passion for representing ALL women in surf culture through her art. She also shares with us her aspiration to create experiences and tell stories through her pieces with divergent meanings and interpretations for each viewer.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT LAIHHA...
Aloha! I’m Laihha. I live on the island of Maui and grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where I earned my degree in Sustainability before moving to Hawaii. I’ve been doing art for as long as I can remember. Whether it be an inspiration or an inherited gift, I have to thank my father. He was a tattoo artist his whole life and stubbornly led a life of self-expression and creativity. He passed away a few years ago, and now I feel that he lives on through my art. My artwork often “breaks the rules,” and I can’t help but see my father in those pieces. Outside of drawing and surfing, I work at a local non-profit here on Maui, teaching youth entrepreneurship skills, the best “day job” ever.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU/YOUR ART?
My artwork is inspired by surfing, women, and all things weird. I believe surfing holds many universal lessons the world could benefit from. So, when I realized the lack of representation for all women in surf culture, it became an inspiration for my artwork. I also love storytelling through combining strange elements. This serves as more than something interesting to look at, but an experience. As people spend time untangling all the ideas on a page, they can place their own meaning on the story being told and find resonance in the art.
WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST ROLE MODEL?
My biggest role model is my grandmother. She raised me all on her own and instilled in me a great work ethic and an open mind. She embraced all my forms of self-expression, especially my art. You could say she’s my biggest fan, and I suppose I am hers too.
HOW DO YOU USUALLY WORK ON PIECES? ANY SPECIFIC RITUALS?
When I get an idea for a piece, there’s usually a strong itch to create it right away. So I reach for my headphones and a coffee and let it flow. If I don’t already have an idea, sometimes I will start with scribbles, and more often than not, it turns into something groovy.
HOW HAS YOUR ART CHANGED OVER TIME?
I have explored many different mediums. I only started creating digital artwork a year ago. Growing up, I focused primarily on charcoal and ink, creating unusual, spooky, realistic drawings and tattoo designs. Now, I love colorful, digital illustrations. I love the freedom it grants me. People often hire me to create logos and branding elements. Still, I would love to move into apparel, campaigns, and other cause-driven projects.
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACE AS AN ARTIST?
Finding the balance between making art for my own joy and creating art to be shared with others. It’s so important to make time for artwork that’s for you, even if no one ever sees it.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Despite all the reasons why you shouldn’t do that thing, do it anyway. The “how” will come so long as you understand the “why.”
WHERE’S YOUR FAVORITE SURF SPOT?
There are so many amazing surf spots across Maui - but there is one spot where I had my most memorable session, a spot I could watch in amazement all day. The famous Honolua Bay. It’s special.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE AND WHY?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I have to say Peru. It’s the first place I ever surfed, and from then on, my life has been forever changed.
LONGBOARD OR SHORTBOARD? WHY?
As much as I love the groove and style of longboarding... I’ve been practicing on my shortboards because... speed. Fast is more fun :)
ONE THING ON YOUR « BUCKET LIST »?
I would love to visit France to brush up on my french. Some surfing and snowboarding would go down too, obviously.
I am an avid roller skater. I grew up playing roller hockey and roller derby, and I feel most confident in my skates. If I could wear them everywhere, I probably would.
YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?
“Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognize the distinction. Bravery means doing something scary” - Elizabeth Gilbert.
~Follow Laihha's Journey~