Interview by Eva Davidová
“We gotta accept the pauses in life as much as the whirlwind of imagination and ideas.”
While carrying-out this interview, I synchronously ran into Jonas at the Madrid Airport while he was on his way to Colombia and I was en route to Costa Rica. I noticed a sticker on his laptop saying “Bundu,” I instantly remembered he mentioned over email that he recently launched a sustainable clothing brand with that name. So I stopped him and asked if he was Jonas Schilders. Not having met him in person, I was pleasantly surprised by his instant laid-back vibes and easygoing spirit. He is a true embodiment of the surf culture that teaches us to live life in connection with nature and inspires us with his personal spiritual quest in the waves.
Jonas chats with us about the importance of being present and living in the moment, and how seeing everything afresh without judgment and worry lets us experience life rather than simply get through it. Giving us a glimpse into his creative process and inspiration, where fluidity is the palate that understands the inevitable human need for life-sustaining cool waters and clashing waves.
You used to live in Morocco – how does this beautiful country inspire you to this day?
In every kind of way. Living in a certain place always leaves you saying goodbye as a different person I guess. For me Morocco was just a very peaceful time in my life, full of slow mornings, laughter and tea with sugar. We used to wake up, drink coffee while looking out over the ocean, go surf, eat a lot of fruits and veggies, surf again, create, chat a lot of shit, surf again, it was all very simple. The concept of time is very different in every place around the world, and during my stay in North Africa, it was quite nonexistent. There was nowhere to be, and nowhere to go, just waiting for the tide to go out or fill in, which was exactly what I needed at that point in life. I really enjoyed the ‘Inchallah lifestyle’ as well, whatever happens, happens and there’s not much we can do about it, no need to worry. So it’ something that I take with me everywhere, I don’t really worry about stuff that I can’t fix, and if I can fix it, I fix it. One last thing that’ll stay with me is the kindness of the people and the many smiles received and given, which I have been taking with me for a while now as well. Walking the streets here in Lisbon, whistling some tunes, and literally just giving a good old grin to everyone I encounter goes a long way.
You are currently based in Lisbon, Portugal…any favorite spots you would like to share
I’m still discovering different spots myself here every day when I go for a walk in the streets, this place is just filled with cool spots. Lisbon has a great park and viewpoint scene as the city is mostly filled with ‘blue sky kinda days’, always people having fun and enjoying a couple beers listening to music. For food I love the old-school tascas around where you get to sink several 1 euro imperials and a 4 euro plate of food, like Alfredo or Padaria do Povo. I’m also not shy of a couple of pregos (Portuguese meat sandwich) after a couple of beers at a spot called O Trevo, always a fun vibe in there. If I wanna enjoy some drinks with a couple mates, I’ll go to one of the lookouts and if not Loucos e Sonhadores is a cool spot, as well as Casa Independente and Cosmos (which is an athletic club turned into a bar, you got a couple of those around). Dancing I do all around the city, really depends on where it’s good that night.
“There was nowhere to be, and nowhere to go, just waiting for the tide to go out or fill in, which was exactly what I needed at that point in life.”
How does the ocean inspire you?
It’s just very reflective to be in the ocean, surrounded by a lot of water and some amazing scenery around. It is a very meditative thing to do, you lay there, you wait for a wave, you paddle, you stand up and then for a brief slice of time which kinda feels like forever, you are just completely in that moment, that’s very inspiring to the way I wanna live my life. Be very present, create different outlooks on life, take it how it comes and make the best of it. Ride good waves, ride shit waves, ride bigger waves, ride tiny waves, but do it smiling. The people that I met through a life next to the ocean have been a big inspiration too, surfers, fishermen, water people in general, a life devoted to the ocean seems to make more and more sense. Plus, it’s just always a good time to be out in the water, alone or with friends, it’s like the best thing there is. Especially surfing a spot with only you and your friends, even if it’s shitty, it makes you feel very small in this big world, which we need from time to time to respect the place we live in.
What other hobbies do you have besides photography?
As I already mentioned, I spend a lot of my time in the ocean splashing around. Next to that I have a brand with a friend called ‘Bundu’ which we use as an outlet of expression for us and many other friends. Through the brand we make clothes, we interview people, are about to start a podcast, and many more exciting things will follow, so that’s been taking up quite a bit of my time, which has been super exciting to be honest. I love writing too, reading, eating healthy and being out and about in the city. It’s been a journey adapting to living in the city and having so many distractions, but it’s been lots of fun being fully submerged into the city life for once.
You mentioned that the ocean “has been your source of energy, and answer to many
questions…” What are some of the questions if you don’t mind sharing…
I got the gift of ADHD, which makes you extremely creative and a great networker, but which makes you also a busy person in your mind. The ocean has helped me deal with that very well, and not only with surfing but even with going for a swim or a walk, the waves tend to make things a lot less complicated, and they certainly give your heart and mind a good rinse. So whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed, stuck or I’m facing a problem, I usually go to the water, which doesn’t mean it’ll take that problem away but it’ll for sure give me a different perspective on it. Having that brought into my life a bit over four years ago, has been the most positive addition and has made me feel very grateful every day.
“Ride good waves, ride shit waves, ride bigger waves, ride tiny waves, but do it smiling.”
What does friendship mean to you?
Friendship means a couple beers on a Saturday afternoon with the boys on a beach haha, that’s the first thing that pops into my mind. I think the most important thing is to be there for each other when it is a beautiful day and everyone is having fun together, but also when shit gets tough and when you need to chat or a hand, that’s what it’s all about. It’s good to see your friends killing it and becoming better versions of themselves, that inspires you to do the same, and thank god I’m surrounded by some absolute crackers.
What camera are you currently shooting on?
Shooting on an Olympus OM1 a lot at the moment, a manual analog camera. Nothing crazy, but it takes some amazing photographs from time to time. Something about looking through the viewfinder, pressing the shutter, and getting the picture back several days later, brings you back to that exact moment. I don’t know that much about photography and I surprise myself from time to time with the outcome to be honest, but it feels right in the moment so loving it.
When you feel a “creative block” what do you do?
Recently for the very first time, I experienced a creative block with photography, and I kinda just embraced it. We gotta accept the pauses in life as much as the whirlwind of imagination and ideas, so that’s what I did. If I need to create a new perspective on something I am working on, I simply go for a paddle in the ocean, play some guitar or go for a sunset with a book, this always freshens up the mind.
Favorite color palate?
Well, I have been shooting a lot of black and white, on the one hand because it’s cheaper, but on the other hand as well because it creates less distraction. It takes the surroundings away and suddenly it’s all about what you can see in the frame, that’s what I really like about it. You play with light, forms, shadows, make the subject the center of attention, I like that way of looking at life. Recently, I have been experimenting a little bit more with color and I love blue. Blue skies, blue water, blue tiles, Lisbon is a good place to be for that, everywhere you look there’s beautiful light hitting a building or street.
“Be very present, create different outlooks on life, take it how it comes and make the best of it.”
You shoot a vast variety of themes from beautiful feminine silhouettes, city life and the skate / surf cultures…which one of these do you feel most connected to recently?
The water and the people it brings along with it, is the one that connects everything. It doesn’t matter if I am shooting someone or something, where I am in my life right now is because of my love for the ocean and so forth that’s the connection. Myself, I spend most of my time in and around the ocean, so it’s a staple in my life and work.
Skate or Surf?
Skate culture, surfing itself.
What does the word passion mean to you?
Passion means the urge to just have to do something. Not to show it, not to fill in a gap, but just to simply do it for the sake of doing it. Because not doing it, just doesn’t feel right.
What are some upcoming projects you are working on?
I’ve got some shoots planned with different friends of me over here in Portugal, where I’ll continue exploring forms, light and shadows through black and white photography. Next to that I am about to head to Colombia for six weeks, that’ll be quite a trip and I’m very excited to explore documentary photography more there. It has always been the goal to eventually bring awareness and perspective through my photographs, so I’m keen to take it there.
Lastly, any song that you can’t stop listening to:
Devendra Banhart – Shabop Shalom
Thank you Jonas!