Slow and Steady

When Tidewings Creative founder Daniela Estlin mourned what the business used to be, she sought refuge in nature. Hiking gives her a way to work through creative ruts.

Before the pandemic flipped the world upside down, Tidewings Creative, which founder Daniela Estlin describes as a “creative firm,” was on a roll. The business hosted multi-medium shows, art exhibits, book openings – all happening at their go-to venue, The Lab in Carmel’s Barnyard shopping center.

When shelter-in-place orders were enacted in the middle of March 2020, Tidewings was on the verge of many changes. Estlin teamed up with musician and artist Sean Sweeney for the exhibition Hard Pleasant Tasks. She was in the midst of planning a summer-solstice-event and planning to turn Tidewings into a nonprofit.

It was July when she and The Lab’s owner, Mike Scutari, finally came to terms with the reality of the pandemic. The Lab had no revenue and closed, an early victim of pandemic restrictions’ effect on gathering spaces.

It wasn’t the end of Tidewings, however. “It’s confusing because when people think of us, we’re so tied to The Lab,” Estlin says. But they are two very different things. Whereas The Lab was a physical space, Tidewings is more of an idea, exploring what creativity was and where it can take place.

“It was always a blend of all of these ideas. I started it in the very beginning as inspired by how I raise my kids,” Estlin says. “Our first event [at The Lab] was a winter solstice celebration. It was a way to bring out the seasonal events, pauses and moments, basically to do what I was doing for my kids for adults and give them that textured and vibrant experience.”

The next step for her goal of highlighting artists, musicians and small business owners in the region was to form a nonprofit, but funding was hard to come by in the pandemic. “Funding was being cut left and right, so I decided to move inward and take a step back,” says Estlin.

She worked with what she knew. She is an artist with a background in photography and graphic design. So after grieving what Tidewings was before, she began working on what it needed to be for people now – a means to keep local businesses and musicians afloat by creating unique branding through graphic design, photography and marketing. Currently, she’s accepting private clients for photography and marketing jobs.

“I keep coming back to community and art,” says Estlin. Those two things don’t necessarily need four walls and a foundation, she adds, but are essential nonetheless, even during the pandemic.

While she is keeping the details under wraps for now, she says things are slowly being pieced together for more events-based displays, hopefully by this summer. She’s in no rush, but things are changing. “Tidewings has been here, in hibernation, but will be reemerging again.”

Marielle Argueza is a staff writer and calendar editor for the Weekly. She covers education, immigration and culture. Additionally, she covers the areas of Marina and South County. She occasionally writes about food and runs the internship program.

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