My name is Maiu and I'm an artist and adventurer from Estonia.
Back in 2016 I went on my first solo overnight hiking trip in Estonia with the goal of hiking the 820km long hiking trail thru Estonia in sections. With that trip I also started two other very influential things in my life: 1) my YouTube channel (then called "Hiker in Estonia") and 2) my practice of recording my wanderings into my watercolor sketchbook.
Since then I have uploaded over 100 videos to YouTube and I have accumulated 2,5 million views on my hiking, gear and painting related videos. I have filled many sketchbooks with landscapes I have encountered on the way and I will never hike without my art supplies again.
My love for the outdoors
When growing up I always appreciated nature, but never got into hiking as all the necessary gear and knowledge seemed unreachable for me. Car camping with simple everyday items was the most our family did! I loved physical activity, though, and for some time I tried to be a rower (was too short for that) and a dancer (folk dance was my kind of thing!) After getting my masters degree in social work and social politics I ended up working not in the social work field, but at different office jobs at production and construction companies. Finally, trying to find some relaxing hobbies during an especially stressful time I decided to try out long distance hiking.
The start of my hiking and YouTube career
It was year 2016 when I went to my first solo overnight hiking trip. That exact moment was also the start of a 3-year long journey where I hiked thru Estonia in sections. As I wanted to be kept accountable (I'm sure I wouldn't have finished the 830 km trail otherwise) I started to record my journey and learning on video, that I posted on YouTube to my channel called "Hiker in Estonia" (now renamed as "Maiu Takes a Hike"). And that, my friends, was the start of my new life.
Of course changes didn't happen overnight and many times I was doubtful that I could exit the "normal" and "responsible" life. But step by step, one courageous decision after another, I have expanded my love for the outdoors so much that I have now quit my all-year-round office job, hiked some dreamy trails all over the world (including Nepal and New Zealand), and even tried out sled dog mushing behind the Arctic Circle on a highly popular event called Fjällräven Polar.
Mushing and #vanlifing
Participating in Fjällräven Polar was truly transformational for me as after that (in 2019) I went back to the Swedish Lapland to work as a wilderness guide and dog sled musher in a sled dog kennel. After two hard, but SO rewarding seasons of spending most of my time out in the Arctic I took time off to rest and explore the beautiful Arctic region I grew to love so much.
In the summer of 2021 I sold my little Kia and bought myself a 2009 Ford Transit van and converted it into a beautiful little campervan. At the moment I'm traveling around Europe, going on day hikes with my two Alaskan huskies, and letting the nature to inspire my art practice.
My creative journey
I do not have a formal art education and I can't even stay that "I have been drawing as long as I can remember". But I have always been very crafty and enjoyed creating beautiful things with my hands.
In 2016, along with the start of my hiking adventures, I also picked up a small watercolor set and a sketchbook. I thought that if I'm spending so much time looking at landscapes, I might as well try to sketch them. Immediately this became my favorite way of recording the places I had hiked to.
With the help of my followers on YouTube, who have been seeing me paining on my hikes from the start and who have been encouraging me forward on my art journey, I have started to expand my creative expression beyond my small sketchbook.
In the summer of 2020 I completed the #100days project where I painted one small painting a day for 100 days, all inspired by my hiking trips all over the world. This "little" exercise gave me so much inspiration and courage to really dive deep into my creativity. Now I'm in the process of exploring my art with different mediums and styles with the goal of finding joy, exploration and curiosity thru my paints and brush strokes.