by Jade Hoksbergen
🎶🎶 Pre-dive Clicklist: Sail Away by Surfaces
I paint, and really got into it during my teens—around the age of 13—it was the same time that I fell in love with scuba diving and the world it would open up for me. I called the Philippines home for many years growing up. My father was dive-obsessed, and we spent most of our weekends exploring our coastlines and the many islands the Philippines had to offer—often equipped with masks, fins, and scuba tanks.
Painting and scuba diving are two very different pastimes, but I’m glad that I was able to devote time to both during my formative years. Painting and diving not only allowed me to explore very different parts of myself, but they allowed me to fully appreciate “the human experience”. Diving reminded me of how, as a human being, I was just like every other animal—breathing, living, and relying on nature; whereas painting reminded me of how complex it is to be human. As human beings, we harbor a rich inner world, and whilst it is our biggest strength as a species, it is also our biggest downfall.
Whilst diving offered serenity and encouraged me to be in the present moment – opening my eyes, taking in the external world, and appreciating its beauty; painting allowed reflection and encouraged paying attention to the chaotic nature of our emotional world.
Indeed, both painting and diving can be seen as “outlets,” but their effect is quite different. I find that painting allows me to “shut the door to the world” as I attempt to hear only what is happening within myself. It allows me to get lost in my thoughts, and it welcomes unprocessed feelings to resurface. Diving, on the other hand, involves acute responsiveness to the present moment. For me, the appeal of diving has always been appreciation of the physical world; whereas the appeal of painting has always been appreciation of what’s within: our emotional world in all its messy glory.
I find both worlds to be incredibly colorful, and I believe it would be a shame to ignore either one of them. Both of these worlds necessitate exploration in my opinion, and around 2013 my passion for diving and painting found their way to each other. They collided, if you will. The subjects in my paintings took the form of oceanic lifeforms—undoubtedly influenced by the richness of life I witnessed when I opened my eyes underwater.
Diving. Together with the clothes I leave behind when I don a wetsuit, I also leave behind “me”—my ego, and all the anxieties that come with being a sentient human being. In the ocean, my own existence feels minute in comparison to the vastness of our blue world. And there I am breathing, I am alive, I am an animal in nature appreciating other lifeforms I live alongside. I inspect them, they inspect me. We co-exist, and life as a human being in that state of mind is pretty nice. It’s an escape, but it is also where I feel most alive and most optimistic.
Painting allows a different kind of escape, a different kind of liberation. When painting, the physical world is forgotten, and my emotional world (and ego) takes centerstage. Painting provides a license for expression, and I feel tremendous liberation when I’m expressing my individuality. With paintbrush in hand, I feel like I—and the thoughts and feelings I harbor—matter.
I don’t try to paint things as they are in reality. Mother nature is so skilled, and the natural world so beautiful, that I find very little sense in imitating her. Instead I paint in a way that is original to me—I paint my own voice.
Art can be many things, and it fulfills a different purpose for different people. Some may see art as a technical challenge, but to me it is about expressing my individuality and allowing vulnerability to exist. That’s why I think creativity requires courage, because it is not only the artist’s vision that is put out there for the world to see, but it is also the end-product of a very personal process.
An artist can’t control how people will react to their art, but of course they can’t help but hope that the artworks they create will speak to those who see them and make them feel something powerful, too.
Anglerfishes are special to me. They live in a realm that is mysterious and dark, and they carry their own light. I find the metaphor of their existence to really resonate with me, which is why they’ve become a motif in my artworks. I use them as a reminder that we all have darkness, and the world we live in can sometimes be dark and abyss-like, but we too can carry within us our own light.
I mentioned previously that painting encourages introspection and the appreciation of our internal world—one where feelings, emotions, doubts, and vulnerabilities reside. Certainly when I was younger, I had the habit of harboring my feelings and not making them known, for fear of being a burden on others. We all need an outlet though, and it would seem that art, and the ocean, is that outlet for me.
So, find something that allows you to just BE, and … breathe.
Jade Hoksbergen is a French-Taiwanese painter, underwater photographer, and writer. At just 26 years old, her images have been awarded honors in several high profile competitions and published in numerous international journals and magazines. In 2019, she co-authored Black is the New Blue Vol. II, showcasing her blackwater imagery. She is currently based in the UK, where she shares a love for the sea with her husband, Henley Spiers, and their two young daughters.
Dive Into Tik Tok
Intrepid u/w content creator Devina Wijaya takes us for a dive into TikTok
By Devina Wijaya. InDEPTH’s Guide to UW TikTok compiled by Grace Winfree. Lead image created by Georgina Brown.
|Check out InDepth’s Guide to Tik Tok Underwater|
“It’s fun to create TikTok content about technical diving because it reminds us to have fun along the way, while prioritizing safety 😉 and also helps get the next generation of divers excited about tech diving.”—@Scuba.Dev
“I love introducing a worldwide community to a sport that most people know very little about.”—@amberofthesea
“I think the best videos on Tiktok are the ones that teach you something new or show you something you’ve never seen before.—@amberofthesea
“Creating underwater content is true childhood play. It’s telling my favorite stories in my favorite place.”— @realmermaidbryn
“Our content seeks to ignite a sense of adventure and curiosity about the mysteries that lie beneath the waves, encouraging people to consider trying scuba diving themselves.”—@padi
“I like to provide educational content about scuba diving and the ocean, but still have it be entertaining and include some humour.”—@narkedtom
“I think it’s the perfect trifecta of having a creative outlet to mix my outgoing personality with my love for the underwater world.”— @fullysubmerged
Girls Do It Underwater
“I would like to inspire more women to get into tech/overhead and cold water diving. I’m convinced that diving helps with many aspects of your life.”—@girlthatccr
“I want to reach out and be a role model for women seeking to fulfill their dreams using technical diving as a tool for personal and professional development.”—@centotegirl
“I want to see more diversity in creators and divers highlighted in underwater content! I would love to lift up people of different cultures, the LGBTQIA+ community, more women, etc. I want to see the industry shift from rich old white men to a progressive, fierce community of unique individuals who are ready to fight to save what we love.”— @azul.unlimited
Halcyon Gives You Wings
Practice Makes Perfect
“I enjoy creating the content to share my love for the underwater world, and also create awareness for the environment and animal welfare.”— @hartdiversintl
Never A Good Day To Die U/W
“I have and always will provide a ton of free content to help freedivers and spearos dive deeper, stay longer, and become safer. My ultimate goal is to do more to raise awareness about shallow water blackouts than any other person on the planet. ”—@immersionfd
“Honestly, it’s all about creating visually-interesting stories of my memories. If others like it, that’s cool too. I have no underlying purpose; I’m not looking to monetize.”—@nicalarid
“I have been producing content on Tiktok for over 3 years now and I have been very happy to see the rise of many creators dedicated to water conservation, education, exploration and to see many amazing clips from small creators go viral to help bring awareness to the amazing underwater world.”—@moderndiver
“Diving goes beyond just being underwater, it’s a complete lifestyle and community and Divesoft wants to be a part of it and bring more value to the diving world.”—@divesoft
Plug for a Tek Thing
Special thanks to the creators who joined us on the dive; @Scuba.Dev, @amberofthesea, @realmermaidbryn, @padi, @narkedtom, @mads_ocean, @thedivememe, @girlthatccr, @cenote_girl, @fullysubmerged, @azul.unlimited, @ halcyondivesystems, @hartdiversintl, @immersionfd, @diversalertnetwork, @nicalarid, @moderndiver, @divesoft, @buddydiveresort
Devina Wijaya is a Project Manager at the Seattle Aquarium, a volunteer aquarium diver, and Marketing Projects Manager at Global Underwater Explorers (GUE). She received her M.A. degree in communications from the University of Washington, and completed her Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification in 2022. Devina began diving in 2018, passed GUE Fundamentals, is working on her tech pass, and has plans to complete GUE Tech 1 & Cave 1. She began creating social media content in 2020 and is active on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.