Category Archives: Inspiration

How a Ranga from a landlocked country turned into a Gidget

The Island life - Venus goes Gidget

This Island Life – Venus Goes Gidget – Photography by Michaela Skovranova

Sometimes life takes you to unexpected places and something as simple as learning to surf can be a life-changing experience.

I know it was for me, and I’d like to share Claudia Hirschberger’s story – she went from living in a land-locked country and working in advertising, to learning to surf, moving to Bondi and starting up Venus Goes Gidget – a lifestyle blog, knowledge base and travel company for female surfers. It’s a great story, and proof that you can do what you want with your life, you’ve just gotta be brave and get out there… commit to that big scary wave and paddle like a maniac till you get where you’re going!

Aquabumps photo of Claudia surfing

Claudia frothing Gidget style at Bondi – photo by Aquabumps

I’m Austrian. I’m a woman and a Ranga. Not quite what you think of when you are describing a typical surfer.

For those who don’t know, Austria is landlocked and is pretty much one big mountain. I grew up with ski boots strapped to my legs and the cold frozen sorts of water under my feet. I was 21 the first time I saw the ocean and discovered the waves during a stint as an exchange student in Australia. And it was love at first sight. You would not get me out of the water. I was like a little kid playing with the waves. I could not get enough of it. Although the concept of riding waves on a board was still somewhat strange at that point in time.

I returned to Australia a couple of years later on a round the world trip. In Byron Bay, I had my very first surf lesson. It was just me and another dude and the instructor. That was back in the days when Byron was still a sleepy surf town. I will never forget the first words of my rather good looking surf instructor: When you slide on your board, be really careful and tender, it’s like sliding onto a guy. Wow. I’m still blushing thinking back. I think that’s when I was hooked to surfing. No, no, ok I actually I think it was when I got the rush of catching a wave and then the excitement when I first managed to stand up. Not so much when I could not feel my arms the next day. What people don’t tell you about surfing: it does not matter if you’ve snowboarded or skated before, you first gotta get that paddle thing sorted which can be pretty painful at times.

Venus goes Gidget Island life

Photography by Michaela Skovranova

Long story short, I fell in love with the waves and decided to move to Australia when I was 24 to properly learn to surf. I went surfing every single day, no matter how the conditions were…small, big, onshore, offshore, and she was determined…very determined. Fast forward, nine years later, I’m still frothing and I’ve turned my back to a career in advertising and founded my own surf business called ‘Venus Goes Gidget’.

I started Venus Goes Gidget as a blog initially and found real joy in sharing my knowledge and insights from my own surf journey. Through Venus Goes Gidget I’ve discovered my passion for teaching and mentoring people and decided to extend Venus Goes Gidget beyond a blog and developed my skills for personal surf coaching.

Every woman can have a great surf experience. If an Austrian Ranga can do it, you can do it. With ‘Venus Goes Gidget’ I hope to encourage more ladies to experience the joy of surfing and just giving it a go regardless of their age, gender or level of fitness.

Venus Goes Gidget under the waves

Photo by Seb Diaz

When I first started surfing, there were only two types of girls found in the surf…stereotype anyway…but it was either blond blue-eyed surfer babe or the butch lesbian tomboy surfer. Not growing up on the beach, I was completely oblivious to these stereotypes and just gave it a go.

Having said that, since I’ve started surfing almost 10 years ago, women’s surfing has come a long way and it’s good to see more and more women surfing. The girls on the World Tour surf absolutely amazing. I just watched the highlight video from the Fiji Pro World Tour. But not only on the Worldtour, even in my local break Bondi I can tell the difference. There were only a few of us amongst 50 guys on a typical Bondi morning, and now you find heaps more girls out there.

Surfing at Bondi

I think the challenge is not to try to surf like the boys but instead bring the feminine spirit back into the water. It’s the beauty and gracefulness of a female surfer as opposed to the strength and the power of male surfing. There is a place for both but I guess like with everything it’s about the balance and for too long the line-up has been a testosterone heaven. It does not matter if you are male or female, surfing is a way to connect to nature, the ocean and yourself in a world where many of us are disconnected from nature.

Surfing has changed my life and ultimately, I want to bring other ladies the joy I found in my passion that is surfing and hopefully inspire them along the way.

Claudia from Venus Goes Gidget

Photo by Jen Pfeifer

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Filed under Inspiration, Surfing

On becoming a surf artist and a short PSA about bullying

Fieldey painting a longboard skatedeck

Painting a digestive tract onto a skateboard… dream job!

Everyone’s got a story and this one’s mine. I’m posting this today in the hopes of showing people that there is no ‘right’ path to pursuing an art career and living life on your own terms… it’s never to late to try.

I’d also like to shout-out to anyone else who was bullied, and if you’re being bullied now, I just want to give you a hug and tell you that you’re going to get through this. You don’t choose to be bullied, but you have a choice about how you react to it, and you can choose to be a better person. When you come out the other side you’ve got an advantage over the non-bullied… you’re made of steel now and you have a sense of determination and something to prove to the world. I wouldn’t be who I am today without that experience – so thank you bullies, you’ve given me the resilience I need to do what I love.

The following is a longer version of an interview published in the April edition of White Horses magazine.

Your art background and development: tell us about how you came to surfboards as your canvas?

Like many artists I’ve been painting and drawing ever since I can remember… the feeling when your immersed in a creative project is just the best, you feel like everything is in-tune, and that you are doing exactly what you were meant to be doing – what you were designed to do. From an early age art was my escape and my solace.

When I was young I was obsessed with horses and hated school, so I spent all of my maths classes looking out the window daydreaming and drawing horses in the exercise books pretending I was somewhere else. To this day I am excellent at drawing horses and rubbish at maths. Kids used to pay me $5 to draw ‘portraits’ of their horses…which was pretty much whatever type of horse I felt like drawing except in the correct colour.

Horse drawings

16 year old horse-dork me

In secondary school I was bullied pretty intensively so art became even more important to me, becoming something of an obsession and a way to escape the miserable realities of school life. Everybody thought I’d become an artist, but in year 10, I had a careers advisor who ‘advised’ me that I’d die poor and alone if I pursued that particular career. When I finished school I studied graphic design in Sydney and took off to London for a year or so to hone my craft. I liked graphic design well enough but as the years passed I felt that the dream of becoming an artist was slipping further away… I didn’t have an artistic direction, I had stopped drawing and creating and felt like I had lost a part of myself.

In 2007 I washed up on Western Australia’s sunny shores right before the GFC when business was booming and they couldn’t pay designers enough money to come and design annual reports for mining companies. I got my first well paying job in a design company in Perth and spent the next three years or so detesting the place and the eventually the work. I took some time off to travel to South America, and that was a wakeup call for me to change some things in my life, I took on a freelance job that allowed me more time to pursue my own interests and also took up surfing.

Taking up surfing in Perth was pretty much the best idea ever – everything started to make sense and I enjoyed the beautiful beaches, the laid-back lifestyle and the crappy surf. About 6 months into my ‘learning to surf’ I mistakenly decided it was time to upgrade to a short board and got myself a 6’7″ Superfish. Couldn’t ride it worth a damn, but I had an idea that it would be fun to paint it. I dusted off my art supplies and got hold of Josh from Oceanline surfboards who very sportingly spent some time on the phone patiently instructing me how to prepare my board for painting. So, I painted my board with a fish headed woman and a banner calling it “The Fish Wife” and purposely used a kind of bastardised old-school tattoo style which was easy to paint with my limited spray paint skills… my brother filmed it for me and we chucked it up on YouTube as a tutorial and “Fieldey” was born.

Your relationship with surfing/the ocean… how has that developed?

I was born in New Zealand, but when I was 8 my parents moved to Norfolk Island, a tiny tiny speck in the South Pacific – about halfway between New Zealand and Australia. From the highest point on the island you have a 360º view of nothing but ocean – the nearest landmass being about 1500km away. The island is surrounded by huge cliffs and we routinely got hit by cyclones and wild storms that would lash the seas up to huge peaks and batter the cliffs… when I was a kid I used to go fishing off the rocks with my dad, and I was always on the lookout for the legendary “Seventh Wave” that according to local legend, could spring up unawares out of a calm ocean and sweep you off the rocks to your doom. People had been washed off the rocks whilst fishing or swimming in rock pools and I used to have continual nightmares of it.

Cyclone waves on Norfolk Island

Scary cyclone waves – bad day for fishing

Growing up like this, surrounded by an unpredictable and huge ocean as well as seeing the size of the sharks that would cruise past when we were fishing, I was scared of waves and swimming in deep water. When I was about 26 I did my PADI Open Water diver course as a way to help conquer my fears of the water and developed a love for scuba diving.

I took up surfing both for something to do, and also as a way of getting over my fear of waves… in the early stages of kookhood I went out in stupid conditions at Trigg beach in Perth and got washed back up on the beach in a tangle of bruises and surfboard after being mauled in the dumpers, but I started to learn about the right conditions and as I got the hang of things I realised that surfing is super addictive. Mostly I just love to be out on the water, it seems to induce a meditative state and that’s where most of my best ideas come from. Nowdays being on, in or near the ocean is something I regard is being necessary for a healthy and happy life… I don’t think I’ll ever live away from it.

Where’s it all heading for you

The last few years have been a crazy ride – if you had of told me five years ago that I would be painting surfboards professionally, I wouldn’t have believed it!

In the last three years I’ve painted dozens of surfboards, bowling pins, a giant remote controlled jet boat, designs for Iron Fist Clothing and heaps of skate decks.

I’ve recently opening an online store of board art decals and inlays, and I’m in the midst of filming more YouTube tutorials with sponsorship by Molotow paints, The Butcher Shop and Star Skate and Surf. I’d also like to have a fine art exhibition of painted wooden alaias that I’ve been working on.

Most of all I’m achieving my dream of being an artist and doing the things I love, and it’s a big adventure. Life doesn’t get much better!

Surfing at Trigg beach


Filed under Art, Inspiration, Interview, Norfolk Island

Feeling the S.T.O.K.E!

White Horses Surf Magazine Interview with Fieldey

Who would’ve thought the dorkiest kid at school would end up featured in a surf magazine? Not me – that’s for sure, but here I am and I couldn’t be more stoked!

I did the interview with White Horses Magazine, Australia’s most epically beautiful and classy surf mag, late last year. I rabbit on about many things, in particular how I got good at drawing horses and how I went on to becoming a surfboard artist… which was an unexpected and awesome twist in my career aspirations, since being scared off becoming an artist by a well meaning Year 10 careers advisor.

Take a gander and have a read, and if you’re into surfing you should subscribe to this mag, it really is a spectacular piece of work, the photographers who are featured are amazing and the stories are beautifully written and engaging.

White Horses Surf Magazine Interview with Fieldey


Filed under Inspiration, Interview, Surfing

The best surf destination you’ve never heard of

Norfolk Island Surfing

Image courtesy of Norfolk Island Tourism

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time. I want to show off the place where I grew up, which as it turns out, is one of the best little-known surf spots ever! It’s a tiny island (5km x 8km) in between Australia and New Zealand but completely out in the middle of the Tasman sea.

With uncrowded waves, clean blue water and no recorded shark attacks, what’s not to like? Norfolk Island got some love on Swellnet (Australia’s biggest surf portal) over Christmas with a photo gallery of empty tubes, and the internet was frothing over the quality of what Norfolk has to offer.

Without further ado I present for your viewing pleasure the waves of Norfolk Island. The photos below are from two talented local photographers – my brother Matt Fieldes ( and Zach Sanders ( if you want to see more wave action check out their Facebook Pages.

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Matt Fieldes Photography Norfolk Island Surfing

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Zach Sanders Photography from Stuck on a Rock Norfolk Island

Some handy links:


Filed under Inspiration, Norfolk Island, Photography, Surfing

The astounding work of Kirsten Easthope a.k.a. Queenpin Deluxe!

These are possibly, slightly NSFW… But so so worth seeing!

Custom painted bowling pins

In honour of completing my first custom painted bowling pin, I’d like to introduce you to my newest artistic muse and all-round lovely person: Kirsten Easthope a.k.a Queenpin Deluxe.

Kristen’s a high-rollin’ pin-up supra-artist, who has painted everything from Fender Guitars, to Rocketbuster Cowboy Boots, to the sets of the movie “Anger Management” and custom boots for Jennifer Tilly. Her artwork has appeared in International Tattoo Art magazine, Club International magazine, Juxtapoz magazine, and she is featured in the book “Vicious, Delicious, and Ambitious” by Sherri Cullison Pfouts, from Schiffer Publishing.

Now I’m jealous… you can view more of her work on her website:  or subscribe to her Facebook page.

Custom painted pin-up bowling pins

Custom painted devil woman pin up bowling pin

Bad girl pin-up old school

Man's Ruin Pin-up


Custom painted pin-up style bowling pin

Custom painted bowling pin tattoo style

Custom pin-up bowling pin

Retro Hawaii pin-up bowling pin


Also, massive thanks to GasBombGirl for introducing me on to such an amazing talent!

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Filed under Art, Artists, Inspiration

The amazing art of Sylvia Ji

I just wanted to take a moment on the beauteous Friday to ask: how freakin amazing is Sylvia Ji’s work? Stylish, simple and powerful no?

Visit her website to check out more:



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Filed under Artists, Dia de los Muertos, Inspiration

The greatest artist’s website in the world

Well, gentle readers, while you were all busy water skiing, sky diving and being radical last weekend, I spent every single hour of it in a darkened room coding HTML to bring you… (probably) the greatest artist’s website in the universe. And a brand new logo on the side. Sometimes being a part time web and graphic artist has its own rewards.

New Fieldey Website

As I said, it took all weekend –  I sketched, photographed and performed all my own stunts (er… HTML coding), so come and check it out, and send me lovely supportive messages picking up on my crappy spelling at

Fieldey Gallery page


Filed under Art, Inspiration