Leanne Tibiatowski – ocean-inspired creative expression borne out of adversity

surf therapy Jul 26, 2022

From a childhood filled with music, to living next to the ocean in San Diego, Leanne tells us all about surf therapy, a supportive community, and a surprising form of art expression.

Listen to Leanne's episode of the Creativity Found podcast here and discover how Leanne found her creative outlet. Here’s a snapshot of what we talked about…

Growing up, Leanne had the best of all cultural worlds – her mother was very aligned with music, her father loved nature and her grandfather was a jewellery maker. However, things changed when she went to college, and found that the critiquing was too painful to bear.

Fascinated by the way in which humans communicate, she embarked on a communications degree instead and became a writer and events producer. Leanne says, “I had to present myself as the linear, the organiser, the project manager, the producer, all of those skills that might not be the frontline skills for a creative and a visionary.”

At this point in the podcast, Leanne discusses her work as a single mother, a trauma counsellor, and her own trauma. She talks about her experience as a teenager, in which feelings were buried for years, only to resurface as an adult in a triggering incident. She explains about how it all came about, and how she got through it, and how it led to a new form of creativity.

For Leanne, COVID was not just a lockdown, it was a time of redundancy. However, she decided to use this time to “serve”. But she was tested to her limits when she was told the ocean was closed – this was her medicine, her way to cope with her PTSD, so Leanne had to find another way to manage.

One day, she decided to paint on a surfboard in her back yard, one that had its own connotations to her traumatic past, and suddenly realised she could do it – she could create flowing lines, beautiful turtles, curly kelp. Leanne decided to enter one board into a gallery competition, and it got accepted! And then another, and another… And now, in a post-lockdown world, she has friends asking her to design tattoos and planning murals, but her true love is the surfboard – and it doesn’t look like that canvas is going away anytime soon.

Click here to listen to the full interview where Leanne talks more intensely about her journey, her recovery, her artistic discovery, and her future plans.