Last week, the Stork had the pleasure to interview one of the most influential environmental activists and artists of our times, Ignacio Dean. He currently has a photography exhibit in the Creativity Center in Segovia, which you can visit till December 11th, on the first floor of the Center. 

Which follows is the first half of the interview.

Hello! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your background as an artist as well as an explorer? 

Well, I think we all are explorers since we are little kids. We have to learn to walk. We have to learn to ride. We have to learn to keep our relationships with others. So, I think as the future is uncertain and we walk into the unknown, we are all explorers. It’s thanks to my parents that I love nature and adventure, my parents raised me with them. And as an artist, well, I have to thank my mom for the education she gave me. They didn’t hand me money every week but instead, every time I learnt a poem, I earnt a few bucks. I love writing and poetry now. For me, art is not just writing or making a sculpture, I think of art as a way of living. It’s a way of feeling the way you look at life. So for me, I just have to follow my instinct. I like to follow my heart. And so, well, I decided to be a professional explorer because there is a romantic vision, a poetic vision of life.” 

Other than your parents, what has inspired you to be motivated for creating art, writing, and traveling around the world? 

Simply authors… When I was young my inspiration were books, travel books, or ones from Jack London, Jules Verne, from Rudyard Kipling… although if I had to recommend one, it would definitely be The Jungle Book. I also watched a few documentaries and nature TV programs from Felix Rodriguez, Miguel de la Quadra Salcedo… So, since my father is also a marine, I grew up surrounded by different souvenirs from all over the world. I love surfing, snowboarding, swimming, and climbing. I know all those guys that are doing amazing things because I used to watch them doing things. And one day I said, “Hey, why not me? I think I can do it too.” And that’s just what I did.

Could you tell us about your expedition around the world and how becoming the first Spanish person to do so translated into your work? 

Yes. Well, in 2013, I started my expedition around the world on foot. It’s an expedition that took me to walk through four continents, 31 countries, and 33.000 kilometers to document climate change. Going through so many different countries. I experienced Hinduism, Islam, Christianism, Buddhism; I slept in temples, in mosques, in jungles, in deserts. Walking is the best way to document the situation of the environment. When I ended my expedition in 2016, I wrote my first book, Free and Wild. It is currently in its sixth edition. Later, I linked the five continents by swimming and it took me two years, which I did to raise awareness for the oceans. We live on a planet where more than 70 percent of the surface is covered by water. I published my second book in 2020, La llamada del océano (The call of the ocean). Nowadays, I give conferences and I’m working on a documentary about my expedition. As you know, we’ve also opened the Photography exhibition in the Creativity Center in Segovia, for which I’m very, very motivated and very happy.

Why did you choose photography as a medium? 

They say that one image is worth a thousand words. So I think that with the pictures I’ve taken, we can have an idea of all the places I’ve been in. For example, there are some pictures about the Atacama Desert, which is the driest desert on Earth in the north of Chile. Those pictures make it seem like it’s a different planet, as if it were from Mars. So pictures for me are just another way of sharing what I’ve seen, what I have lived. I want to raise awareness for the environment, but I also want to show the beauty of the planet, not only all the wrong things we have done.

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