Cold water surfing tips & inspirational art – with Malin Sjöstedt

Ever dreamed about a life part-time creating beautiful art & photography, part-time surfing the cold waters of Swedens east coast? We bet you will get inspired by our dear friend Malin Sjöstedt, who in this little saga takes us down her creative path, all the way from traveling the world to settling down on the Swedish countryside.

Photo by Elin Fröderberg.

Hi Malin, you're a surfer, artist, photographer and digital marketing wiz and on IG you seem to live the dream life. Tell us something about yourself you might not see from a first glance on IG?

Oh wow that’s a tough one to start off with haha! Well I guess I will take the opportunity to say that social media will never give us the full story of someones life and struggles. I use it to inspire but also as a business tool, it is my main source of marketing for my photography and art. A few years ago I think I was way more personal and generous about sharing my inner thoughts as I thought it was a great community to do so, but also my responsibility to show “the real side of life”. But truth be told, I think we are all responsible for that filter. These apps are built upon making us want more, scroll for another hour, become addicted. It is up to us as users to be aware of that and treat it likewise. I love Instagram as inspiration and following friends, creatives and brands I love, but I am also cautious on who I follow and how much time I spend there.

With that said, there is a tonne of information about me that is not on my social media, I wouldn’t know where to start really. I like to watch really crappy reality tv from time to time, I guess that is a bit of a shocker to someone who follows me on Instagram? I have a hard time not being effective, a very active brain some would say, and if I’m not out in the ocean, I find that one thing that really takes my mind of things is to watch really crappy reality TV haha.

About two years ago you made quite a big change in your life moving to a little house on the Swedish south east coast, starting a career (and maybe life path) in arts, how did that happen?

I always thought I would die by the age of 25. No specific reason, just a gut feeling that was so strong that I thought, ok, here we go, if I only have a few years to see the world, I’m going to make sure to see the most of it. This resulted in a few years on the road and developing a freelance career within social media marketing. But once I actually turned 25, and then 26 and thereafter 27 an so on, I realized I might actually survive for an unforeseen future, maybe even until pension at 65. I am serious about this, I know it sounds funny but I actually was so convinced about this all!

Anyhow, at 28 I kind of crashed from living “the dream life” out and about in the world, and decided to move to Malmö and get a steady job, a home and colleagues. It was fun, but after 2 years I had picked the cherries in the cake and was ready for something new. I just knew something needed to happen that summer, but wasn’t sure of what. I wasn’t happy with my job, I was anxious and confused, I felt trapped. I attended a midsummer party with complete strangers at the time. I met a new friend, Emma, who told me about this art and design school. I had this instant, strong gut feeling about it, and two months later I moved out to Österlen.

What's the biggest change in your life today, compared to 2 years ago?

So many things. Firstly, I’ve always thought I was an extreme extrovert. I always wanted people around me, the more the merrier! But then I moved out to this house by the sea, and woke up to this complete silence, just the sounds of the ocean outside my window. And all this headspace just made way for so much creativity, it just exploded. I spend so much more time in nature now, I go on walks and discover things in the Swedish nature I have never noticed before. Like all the different types of seaweed, or rocks, and pattern made by the ocean in the sand. I get to surf a lot more than I ever thought was possible in Sweden and I fell in love with cold water surfing (something I never thought a swimsuit-surf junkie like me could). I realized as much as I love people, I also really love to spend time alone or with a selected group of close friends. I am way more cautious with where I spend my energy nowadays.

How does nature inspire your art?

I'm actually working really hard on putting this into words myself, as I know it is my absolute biggest source of inspiration, but I can’t really trap the feeling with words.

I think it is natures calm, organic shapes, symbiosis that inspires my art. I love to work with natural materials and make my own ones such as kombucha leather or cook my own bioplastic (water, potato starch, agar agar and glycerol). When working with materials like that, you have to be respectful, adjustable and never expect anything. It’s a play with nature and you’re just there to nudge and observe it.

The surf is a very big inspiration in my painting, of course. The meditative state and flow it puts you in. Theres nothing like it, truly nothing. My artworks are abstract and flowy, very down to earth and light colors, that I think must spring from that feeling when you loose time in the water and just enjoy reading the ocean and that total focus on its next move.

Your top 3 tips for anyone who's keen on starting cold water surfing in the Nordics?

1. Get a damn good wetsuit. And boots. And gloves. Looking back I’m glad I survived my first year surfing in the snow and ice out here. My wetsuit was pretty crappy and I was so cold I cried when I got up and then had super low blood pressure for hours afterwards, haha. So invest in a wetsuit. It gets a little more fun that way!

2. Give it time. I honestly invested countless hours trying to learn to read reports on when and how a spot works. Spent hours looking at the ocean and driving to spots I thought might work. And after some time I learned. You don’t have to rely on anyone else to tell you, if they can learn, so can you!

3. Don’t let the lack of women in the water scare you off. We are out there! Get to know other female surfers who might want to join you on your surf mission, or paddle out among the men and inspire other women to join you! I did find it very intimidating in the beginning here, arriving all alone to a new spot with my longboard, and almost no women in the water. It took me some time to feel at home, and I almost never saw any women in the water. Today I must say it looks different, in just two years time the presence of women in the water is way more frequent! Let’s keep that trend going!

Your top 3 off the beaten track tips on Österlen?

I love to walk from Vårhallarna in Simrishamn to Vik, a village further up the coast. It's so beautiful to walk along the ocean and you’ll walk through all sorts of flora and fauna. If you are there between June 4th - August 28th you will also walk pass an exhibition at Tjörnedala Artwalk, an outdoor exhibition by the sea where you will find some artworks by me and my friends!

In between walks and swims in the ocean, make sure to stop by for a snack at Jord & Bord, Örum 119, Brick Österlen or Hörnan at Brantevik! Ales Stenar in Kåseberga. Not so secret, but this ancient sun calendar is well worth a visit. Especially late summer as the poppies flowers!

How do you like your Minna jacket?

I love it!! Especially after a surf or to snuggle up in it on a chilly morning as I wake up in my tiny camper van (not sure if I can call it that, I just put a mattress in my car really). I also wear it as a regular jacket actually, it really is the perfect jacket for any occasion, not only for outdoor adventures.

Malin is wearing the Minna Wool Fleece in Camel. 

Thank you Malin for sharing your incredible story with us! Don't forget to check out her astonishing art at her website www.malinsjostedt.com, and follow her inspiring account at Instagram. And hey, if you're keen on discovering more gurls sharing the cold water stoke, head over to Sara & Josefin's stories!

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