Elise Crigar and Karina Petroni met through Instagram and connected over a thread of commonalities. Elise is an artist and skater who works in North Florida—which is where Karina grew up. After a few exchanges about shooting photos, surfing, Florida, and women’s role in the skating/surfing world, the two realized they were on the same page with a lot of the stuff they were talking about. Something took form. And the photos you’re seeing are a result of that connection these two strangers made. It’s beautiful. We talked to both Elise and Karina about the project and how it came to be. Needless to say, we can’t wait to see what more these amazing women create together in the future.
Tell us a bit about yourselves. What do you do now? What were you doing before this?
Elise: My name is Elise Crigar. I am an artist, designer and skateboarder. I currently work full time as a photographer and social strategist for a local lifestyle magazine and marketing company. I also work on freelance design and photography projects revolving around female skateboarding. I recently partnered with skateboarding legend Cindy Whitehead and photographer Ian Logan to design the first comprehensive hardcover book on female skateboarding. “It’s Not About Pretty” is a 144-page book that features 65 different skateboarders.
Karina: There is a term that they use in The Bahamas and that term is “PotCake”. This term is used to describe a dog that has come from a mixed litter and has a mixed history of life for that matter. The term has been coined to describe people as well. “She’s nothing but a PotCake.”
My name is Karina Elizabeth Bergheim Petroni, I was born in the Canal Zone of the Isthmus of Panama. I am 50% Italian Mafia and 50% Norwegian Viking. I stood up on my first wave at nine years old in Atlantic Beach Florida, and I rode that first wave straight into a full fledge, professional surfing career that lasted for over a decade. I now find myselfwith a revamped career, residing on a remote island in The Bahamas with the love of my life.
What is it like to be a female in the world of male-driven sports? What challenges have you faced? How have these affected you?
E: Being a female involved in a male-driven sport, it is hard not to get noticed. Rolling up to a huge park of people and having others single me out is an uncomfortable experience sometimes. It is just something I have to push past and feel comfortable in my own skin — not only to learn and try new things, but just have fun. Pushing past this has made me a stronger person. It has forced me to have confidence in myself and know that I can only give my best and have fun!
K: I have enjoyed being a female in a male-dominated industry. It has shown and taught me that I truly can be a beautiful and classy tomboy. I feel it has made me a wiser and more competent woman all around. I grew up competing against the boys in my amateur surfing days, that’s what a lot of young girls had to do to excel their surfing talent. I have definitely faced my fair share of sexist, biased behavior and that has been challenging.“Whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger” is certainly true when you’re a woman in the world of male driven sports. I have learned to hold my own, dissect each and every issue for what it is and try my best to maintain composure and class all the while trying to be a badass in my field.
A strong, confident, intelligent and humble woman that exudes elegance in her line of work inspires me and I feel those women got there by having to duke it out with the dudes at some point in their lives.
Both of you are from North Florida. How would you describe it to someone who’s never been there? What’s special about it?
E: North Florida is a beautiful place where the beaches run for miles and the sunsets are rarely disappointing. Although the waves are usually flat, the sky is typically clear and refreshing. North Florida has natural hidden treasures like remote beaches, small islands, lush green forests and natural springs.
K: I tend to determine what I think of a town by how the local residents treat you in traffic. People from North Florida practically wave you into traffic, like you’re a fellow neighbor missing out on a block party BBQ; these are my kind of people. The southern hospitality is inescapable in North Florida; you are constantly and genuinely greeted by a “Good Mornin” or a “How Ya’ll doing”, which is certainly a bonafide word in theses parts. North Florida has a different kind of beauty than other areas of Florida. North Florida has the type of beauty that you would conjure up in your head whilst reading a romantic “Nicholas Sparks” novel. I’m going to go ahead and stop now as I wouldn’t want the cat to venture too far out of the bag.
Do you still live there? If not, would you ever move back permanently?
E: Yes, I do still live here. I love to go exploring other places, but this will always be home.
K: I no longer live there, although I go back often to visit my family and friends as that’s where a lot of them live. North Florida holds a very special place in my heart, it’s a place I will forever call home.
How did you two meet?
E: Thanks to today’s day and age, we met through social media. Oddly enough, I currently work where Karina grew up, but it was our common interests regarding photography and sharing content that brought us together.
What inspired you to work together?
K: I personally feel what inspired Elise and myself to work together was, we saw eye to eye on a lot of topics pertaining to women in the surf and skate culture. We shared the same vision and held the same bond between the two of us especially when it came to our outlook on the young girls that are up and coming. I feel Elise and I both want to encompass that retro era of surf and skate culture and preview likeminded women living it out. It meant a lot to me that we were able to capture these amazing images in my “ol” stomping grounds. We incorporated my nieces into the shoot, Izabella and Lola, having them involved brought such a youthful and refreshing breeze to the whole thing, and this was a very inspiring aspect in itself. It has been years since I worked on a project in my hometown where my surfing career started, and to be able to work with Elise and have my nieces a part of it was very refreshing; I was a-washed with sweet nostalgia.
What was the driving force behind this specific project? You mentioned you both loved the vintage era of surfing and skating. What is it about that specific era that allures you?
E: We both have similar passions and stories to tell, so what better way than to work together to tell them? Yes, there is something about the roots and birth era of skating that I am very drawn to. When times were simple and people skated solely because they loved it — when the only cameras were film and you were so lucky if you captured the shot. The second idea was spreading empowerment to girls. Karina took the full sponsored route and gave her life to the surfing industry and showed girls that they can follow their dreams at a young age. I think that is an awesome thing. I chose to stay connected to skating on a less technical level and instead through my artwork
What are the goals of this project?
K: The main goal of this project is to shed light on the classic era of surf and skate culture and to preview North Florida still living true to those times while being drenched in it’s juicy, citrus light. Our goal is to inspire young girls throughout this amazing world to have zest for life, be yourself and stay comfortable in your own skin. We want to prove there is no need to be overly sexy and feel like you need to have your derrière front and center of your Instagram post.
If you could give one piece of advice to young girls growing up in this day and age, what would it be?
E: Learn to find your passion. Sometimes this means trying different things and having an open mind. Once you find the thing you love, go headstrong into it and be bold in your passions. That is the only way to make them come to life.
K: I would love to tell all the young little whipper snappers out there to: Throw your shoulders back, hold your head high, stay inquisitive, stay respectful, stay classy, stay humble and bad to bone all at the same time. Go out into the world and use your beautiful hips while doing radical things and most of all find the humor in everything and learn from each and every lesson whether it be negative or positive.
What’s next for each of you? Do you have any other exciting things in the works this year? Any plans for more projects together?
E: I am planning to do more work pushing girls and the skateboarding industry. This is a huge time where things are growing and changing for girls right before our eyes. I am so excited to be a part and witness it. I plan to take a couple trips and make some new magic happen! I am not sure when I will see Karina again, but I am positive we will make something awesome out of it.
K: I feel this was just the beginning for Elise and I, we clicked insanely well like we had already known each other for years. I can’t wait to see where Elise goes with her career, she is incredibly talented, beautiful and tenderhearted; she is going to make her Mama real proud! I so look forward to the next time we have the chance to document some more “tail-slide sessions” together.