This spring we’ve teamed up with Vans to highlight their new Anaheim Factory Collection and introduce you to a diverse group of artists, small businesses, and creatives from across Canada, making a positive impact on their community.
First up is Norma Ibara, who made the move from Mexico to Vancouver over decade ago, where she is thriving as a photographer, story teller, gardener, skateboarder, and all an around creative force! We recently had the chance to catch up with Norma, and ask her about her upcoming photography projects, her gardening-skateboarding club (@companionplantingclub) and her current inspirations (all of which are currently inspiring us!)
Hi Norma! How has your spring been so far?
What have you been working on lately?
Hola! It’s been really fun but quite busy. I have been working on a few photography projects around skateboarding and jewelry. I am also finishing my upcoming photo book on the Mexican skateboarding scene. Other than that, I have been managing social media for some clients, prepping for gardening season, taking some courses, and continuing to get better at skateboarding.
Where are you from? And when did you make the move to Vancouver?
I was borned and raised in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. I impulsively came to Vancouver in 2009 on a last minute opportunity to learn English for 5 weeks, but I never left. It’s a crazy story! I was offered a spot on this ESL school on a Friday and flew to Vancouver the Sunday after with only $200 in my pocket. I instantly fell in love with the city and figured a way to stay. Best decision ever if you ask me.
What are some of your favourite things about British Columbia and the community here?
British Columbia is such a beautiful place. I endlessly fall in love with its nature, the mountains, the ocean, the infinite ways to have outdoor adventures. When I came here, I experienced a real spring, fall and winter for the first time in my life. I come from the Sonoran desert in Mexico so we don't get to see spring flowers, fall foliage or winter snow. To me, that’s one of my favourite things, to really feel and experience each season and their transitions.
As for the community aspect, I find a strong sense of belonging within my skateboarding community. I am very fortunate to have an amazing network of friends, supporters, and people I can collaborate, learn, and grow with thanks to skateboarding.
"I'm very fortunate to have an amazing network of friends, supporters, and people I can collaborate, learn, and grow with thanks to skateboarding."
What role did photography play in your life growing up? When did you start taking photographs?
My mom used to take a lot of photos back in the days. I remember when I was 8 years old, she put me in a photography course. I remember learning how to make my own camera out of an oats box and developing my own film; it was so magical! After that, when I entered high-school, there were a few selective communications and visual arts classes available. I chose photography and I was hooked. Eventually, my mom gifted me her film camera when I was 15 and I have been taking photos ever since.
Beyond photography, what are some of your other passions and creative outlets?
Last year I got into gardening and grew food for the first time. I met and connected to lots of like minded people and eventually, we formed a lil’ gardening-skateboarding club. I have been really passionate about gardening. I find it so grounding and rewarding, very much like skateboarding. The two relate to each other in a few ways.
Who are some of your artistic influences, or people you feel inspired by?
Well, I have really diverse sources of inspiration from all my passions, but my first inspiration when I started shooting photos, was my friend in Mexico, Fera Maldonado. She takes amazing portraits and does incredible art with her photos. Later, when I was studying photography, I learnt about Inge Morath and fell in love with her work. Eventually when I got into mountain biking and I was managing social media for a mountain bike race, I got to work with amazing photographers who really inspired me, especially Margus Riga. In terms of skateboarding photography, I look up to Sam McGuire who has been an amazing mentor to me!
What Vans are you currently wearing and why did you pick this specific pair?
Oh my! I love Vans, and I have to say, I have a great collection! I love matching my shoes to my outfits, so it’s never the same type of shoes, that being said, I am a big fan of slip-ons. From this shoot, I really loved the denim blue anaheim shoes.
Do you have any last words, inspirational quotes or friends you would like to shout out?
I want to give a big shout out to the Skate Witches for their continued mentorship and support over the years, and also to Vans and Chrome Industries for supporting me.
To everyone reading this, thanks for your time and interest in my story. If you ever find yourself wanting to try something new, remember to never be too scared of trying. I started skateboarding at 31 and it completely changed my life.
Last but not least, in a society that seeks quick results lets all remember we must learn the beauty of effort, patience, and perseverance as well as learning from our failures, identifying our problems but putting all of our power and energy into solutions.