Leisure Muse: Adrianne Dimitrakakis of Atlas The Collective

[Leisure is a vital aspect of a life well lived, offering a pathway for personal growth. This series delves into the restorative activities our community embrace outside, along with the self care that not only nourishes well-being, but reflects in the radiance of our skin and our overall aura.]

I met Adrianne Dimitrakakis or ‘Age’ as she’s better known, when were co-working at the same studio in Byron Bay a couple of years ago. Age had just taken a marketing job and was painting on the side for her ongoing project Atlas the Collective. A few months into her full time role, she quit her job to focus entirely on painting. Taking a ‘leap’ has become a bit of a worn out trope, but seeing it in real time was inspiring to see. In this conversation, Age shares how and why she made the decision to paint full time and what happened next, along with some sustainable travel tips and the practices that keep her creativity alive.

When we met, you had briefly begun and left a job to pursue art. Can you share a little more about this story for those that don’t know you? 

Yes! Ah that was a brief one. Haha. At the time I was in a fork in the road; an offer for a steady job similar to one I already had in the past in marketing for a surf brand (a job I had loved so much once), or this new series of paintings I wanted to release and work on. I felt so close to it, but just felt out of reach as it was in the midst of Covid, so I went for the safer option.

Reflecting on that now, it’s funny — even though we make choices, I feel like the universe sends signs to curve us back on the right path. I worked for that surf company for around 5 months. Things just weren’t working. There was a hectic 2 - 2.5 hour border restriction travels from Byron to the Gold Coast. Ultimately I had to ask myself, one thing had to be given up and what ws it going to be; Atlas or this surf brand role?

I knew Atlas was going to win every time. So I had left and started working harder than ever for Atlas, putting more money into marketing. I took a chance and applied for an art residency in Greece and got accepted and left two months later on that trip.

It was scary, but the best thing I’ve ever done and put me on track to the direction I really felt I wanted and was meant to be.

On your trip to Europe this year, you took portraits of friends and strangers in your colourful Atlas sarongs. Could you share a story that stood out from this time, or something you loved most or learned from this project? 

Yeah, it was really fun and such a beautiful way to meet people from all over the world and try to communicate through language barriers.

Oh man, I met some really cool and beautiful people. Everyone I had asked said yes. But one that did stand out to me was a lovely little older lady in this seaside town in Italy. Her name was Louisa. She didn’t speak any English and I know a very small amount of Italian but was trying to learn while I was there. It was just one of those cute moments that only happen when you get up early before everyone else and you're alone to wander.

It was around 6.30/7am and I went down to the beach/rock pools to swim. I had just noticed her sitting there, taking in the place and having a beautiful nice moment. Just looked so happy and peaceful.

I jumped in and went for a quick swim and as I came out I approached her to ask for a photo. She was very sweet. I used a translator on my phone to try and explain to her about the photo and she said yes.

We sat together talking through the translator and I was saying how beautiful her home town was and how it reminded me very much of Greece in some ways (my dad’s heritage).

It was funny, we were talking about life through a translator and she said some of the most beautiful things and that we were soul sisters — it just felt such a pinned moment in time.

She said she wanted a photo with me this time as a reminder, so we got the next person over to take a photo of us on her phone. It’s one of my favourite photos.

Do you have any day-to-day practices that keep you creative?

I try when I can to get in the water most days, or even sit in the sun. I find those quiet moments away from the studio are often when ideas roll in. Especially if I’m stuck on something and feel like I just need some clarity or to have a break. I do also love a drive via the coast roads where I can see the water as I travel, I call them 'clarity drives’ haha.

Your work focuses on nostalgia from past travels. What inspired you most on your travels this year? 

I think meeting all those different people through shooting with the scarves and sarongs. It was just incredible and really inspiring. Food, language and culture, I just love being a fly on the wall and people watching.

One of my favourite places was Camogli, a popular beach destination in Italy for Italians. There weren’t many tourists there, I didn’t hear any English while I was there and very minimally spoken, it was so nice.

I felt really immersed in it all there. I was with my English friend who I met at my art residency the previous year and we sketched out and about on our travels and wandered around. It was kind of like another little residency while I was there.

Sustainable travel is something more people are talking about. What do you do to keep a lighter footprint when you travel? 

Some places really did have a lot of plastic, which was a bit frustrating as you're in such beautiful places where everyone’s taking photos, yet people don’t pick up their trash? I don’t get that. So I did my fair share of swimming out to sea to grab bits of plastic floating away and in some places plastic bottles were wedged between rocks and stuff. 

Europe is so good with its train lines, along the Italian coast we took the train from town to town. It’s cheaper than flying, easier and better sustainability wise too. And in any cities or towns we often took the trains, trams and buses instead of Ubers all the time.

What is one destination you’d return to again and again? 

That’s a tough one. I fell in love with Biarritz and Hossegor while I was there and would love to go back for a longer time to those spots. 

But I’d have to say Greece. It’s just the best, I’ve been four times now and can't wait to go back. 

The beaches, architecture, people, food, lifestyle; it’s just so relaxed and the people are generous, kind and have a great sense of humour too — very playful and cheeky.

I can speak some of the language too so that helps and having that connection there because of dad makes it extra special. Hydra and Milos are some of my favourite islands but there’s so many islands to explore and places on the mainland I want to go back.

You can still keep going back and still go somewhere new. One of my other favourite places is Tahiti. I've been twice and was so incredible both times — I’d love to go back. But I have been back to a number of places on my travels so part of me really wants to keep exploring new places.

What are three things you never travel without? 

I always take my big tank of a water bottle, film camera (even if it’s bulky and annoying to lug around) and my little notebook/sketchbook.