Find Your California with Nico Guilis

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That familiar summer feeling. You know -- the one where the sun has kissed your skin in just the right amount and the salt from the ocean lingers in your crunchy hair; that mesmerizing feeling of watching the ebb and flow of waves as the sun sinks below the horizon. This is summer, and you don’t want it to ever end.

And the thing is, it doesn’t have to. That deep yearning for barefoot beach strolls doesn’t have to solely be designated to the summer months -- this feeling can be found and captured just about anywhere.

Meet Nico Guilis, the founder of Find Your California. Artist, surfboard designer, photographer, and filmmaker, Guilis captures the ever-promising sunshine and eternal summer forecast through her surf and skate based artwork. A Southern California native, she began her portfolio at the young age of nine. Shooting with a Pentax gifted by her father, the budding entrepreneur shaped her artwork through inspiration from oil painting classes, feel-good old school movies, and classic tunes from the 50’s. She considers herself to be “a grandpa in a girl’s body” (in the best way possible, we might add). 

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Surrounded by these diverse art mediums, Guilis was motivated to further explore her love of art, studying at the Film and Art School at Cal State Long Beach. Following university, she moved to New York and sought solace in SoCal culture, albeit in the cut-throat, non-stop world of the Big Apple.

"No matter where I go, or what I do,” Guilis says, “I’m always finding my California. To me it's not just a place -- it’s a state of mind."

From native to international soil, California has such a cultural impact around the world and she illuminates this lifestyle through her work. Whether wandering in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, New York, Australia, or Spain, Guilis aims to uncover the laid-back, light, and airy California aesthetic wherever she goes.

Living in a society teeming with imagery, it helps that her creativity is unending. Fueling her artwork with gut intuition and guiding her content with wildly vivid dreams, the artist breathes fresh air into the overly-produced, copy-and-paste Instagram mold.

Rather, she utilizes her consistent beach-hippy thread and effortlessly translates the highly-refined into a “mesh I can show in a relatable way... but also a really fun way,” she says with a smile. (Which explains her recent shoots with companies like Vogue and Chanel.)

While the surf and skate community may not be blatant on the surface of these typically polished brands, by adding her creative spin (like dressing down a Chanel blazer with Levi’s and Converse) Guilis blends both worlds into a cohesive masterpiece. 

Besides challenging the fashion norms, the artist also confronts gender roles amongst the surf and skate culture while simultaneously redefining the male-dominated world of film. Showcasing females in a predominantly male community, she sheds light upon subjects that men have controlled for years: “Girls weren’t seeing other girls skating in a powerful or feminine light, so I wanted to represent a category where women can put on Dickies and Vans and shred and own who they are in a very authentic way. I wanted to make people see that it’s okay to be rad. It’s okay to drive an old car and not just model on top of it. It’s okay to be interested in topics that guys have dominated for so long.”

Because after all, girls can skate. And they can skate in a bikini, too!

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Emily Moore is an avid trinket collector, self-proclaimed poet, trail runner, and lover of all things found in Erewhon Market. Find her at @emmmmillyy or on her website.