Tia Blanco Is Much More Than a Competitive Surfer

“I love Bob Ross,” says Tia Blanco with a laugh. “He’s so good.”

RAEN’s Tia Blanco walks us through her makeshift art studio at her home in Oceanside, California. She’s produced an impressive stockpile of completed canvases in the last few months. Her most recent addition is a walkway of purple trees. It looks like a jacaranda-filled gateway to heaven.

“I love all of Bob Ross’ quotes, and his whole approach,” says Blanco.

And who doesn’t? The man synonymous with “happy little trees” is an excellent muse. And fitting for Blanco, who seems to have a similarly positive approach to her endeavors. In yoga, art, entrepreneurship, veganism, or surfing, Blanco emits a similarly secure confidence. Though, Ross and Blanco diverge in a few ways.

First, Blanco’s got an aggressive streak noticeably absent in Bob Ross’ body of work. It’s most obvious in the context of her surfing.

“When I’m on the shortboard, I try to be graceful and aggressive at the same time,” says Blanco. ”Marry the two.”

A few hours later, we lucked upon a crossed up swell at Oceanside Harbor, and said aggression surfaced each time the nose of Blanco’s shortboard hit 12 o’clock. A smooth rebounding turn typically followed. Grace and aggression.

While the general public might know Blanco as winner of ABC’s Ultimate Surfer (the one and only season), she made a name for herself long before the show as a competitive shortboarder and animal rights activist. Notably, Blanco unapologetically championed a plant-based diet about a decade before publicly traded companies slid Beyond burgers into Carl’s Junior drive-thrus and into the mainstream’s consciousness. She also developed a line of skincare and beauty products called Dear Self. She starts most days on a yoga mat. Uninspired by a one-dimensional identity as a surfer girl, Blanco has made a concerted effort to embrace a diversity of interests.

“A few years ago is when I knew I didn’t want surfing to define every part of who I was,” says Blanco. “ I didn’t want winning or losing to dictate my happiness, so I started doing other hobbies and other things that made me happy to complement my surfing. Some of those things are painting, being an entrepreneur, doing yoga, and I feel like there’s a lot of different elements in my life that give me purpose. I almost think it’s been better for my surfing. You might think it would take away from my competitive surfing, but in a way, it brings the best out of me.”

As for her partnership with RAEN, it was a natural fit. Their HQ (which has recently moved up the coast) was just a few blocks from Blanco’s house.

“RAEN has always just made me feel like they have the best style to date. Their headquarters ended up being a two-minute drive from where I live. It just made sense. They’re probably my only sponsor that I’ve had where I was the one to initiate the sponsorship.”

When it comes to happiness, Blanco’s North Star is simple. She’s always pursued her passions.

“I feel that whatever it is that you choose to do in life, if you love what you do, you’re going to be that much more successful at it, because you care and you have that passion to do it,” says Blanco. “ It doesn’t have to be the most lucrative route, if it makes you happy, I think that’s what it’s all about.”

For more of our CREATORS series with RAEN, check out the last episode with JJ Wessels here.

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