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Do you want to go off on vacation, but fear you'll lose your creative streak or even fall behind artistically if you take a few days off? Ever wondered how you can ensure creative progress while away from the studio and regular work routines? Curious to see what happens when you take your art-making on the road but are, perhaps, a bit nervous about working in unusual/public settings?
As artists, traveling is a great way of gaining new inspiration and facing challenges that can lead to substantial growth. It may sound counterintuitive, especially for us workaholics, but putting miles between us and our studios may be just what we need to kick our creative progress into gear.
In today's blog post, I'll be sharing the three things I personally did to prepare for my last trip, which allowed me to enjoy it immensely WHILE moving forward artistically. By preparing ourselves mentally and doing a bit of research beforehand, we can take full advantage of our travels and come back home refreshed, motivated and full of ideas!
To clarify, I consider the incubation of ideas just as important as the act of creating finalized artworks. It's through first-hand experiences that we get to know ourselves as artists and come to conclusions about what messages we want to bring to the world. This, for me, is just as essential as working on our cold artistic skills.
I absolutely loved Toronto! In my last blog post/YouTube video, I shared how there was just SO much to get inspired by! Check that post out HERE. The huge variety in cultures present in the city, as well as the beautiful architecture, music, coffee, shops, galleries and art studios triggered a lot of emotions in me that made me want to create.
Visit THIS blog post to find more pictures of the painting process for this watercolor sandwich!
3 Hacks to Apply Before and During Your Next Trip
1. Give some thought to what supplies and promotional items you'll be taking with you
The supplies that you choose to take with you will vary depending on your artistic medium(s) of choice, as well as how comfortable you are drawing or painting in public (or rushed) situations. I love watercolors and immediately reached for my smallest/most portable set to pack up. However, I knew that I would probably have limited time and space to create, so I also made sure to take a few pencils and drawing pens with me.
I recommend sticking to the basics and taking only what's truly necessary when selecting your art supplies (unless you're deliberately traveling to a drawing/painting event). Take your most portable sets and supplies that allow for easy cleaning, making sure they aren't the most expensive or even your favorite. Things get lost and damaged during trips, and you want to avoid sad situations. Also, consider what bag you'll use to carry your stuff in while walking around.
I knew since before my husband and I started preparing for our trip, that I didn't want to pressure myself or take away from fully enjoying the experiences Toronto had to offer. I wanted to focus more on taking note of moments, feelings and thoughts that popped up. The few sketches I created were quick, but I made sure to take lots of reference pictures that I could work with when I got home.
If you're up for the challenge, however, traveling is a great opportunity to practice plein air painting, drawing settings, objects and people! You can also set timers for yourself to practice creating faster drawings and/or paintings, which will help you become more expressive and efficient!
Are you a professional artist? I REALLY recommend taking time to create unique promotional items that you can give to awesome people you meet while you're traveling! Instead of giving out a regular business card, think of items that people will actually want to have around and/or use. Be practical about it, of course, as you'll have to make space for them in your suitcase and there's always a risk of things getting damaged throughout the journey.
I had some notebooks made with my artwork on the cover and contact information on the back and people loved them!
2. Use social media to reach out to locals working in areas related to your niche
A couple of weeks before my trip I got the idea of using social media channels to send out a message to artists actually living in Toronto. It's one thing to get recommendations from friends or family who've visited the city/town before, and quite another to get insights from actual local artists!
I created a nice-looking JPG using Canva calling out for Toronto-based artists and posted it on Instagram and Twitter (a few appropriate hashtags included). I honestly didn't know if I would get any responses, and should have posted it at least a couple of more times. Fortunately, two very helpful locals got back to me with their recommendations! I even got to meet one of them during my trip, which was awesome. :)
Using your own research, as well as suggestions from local artists, create a list of places that you want to make sure to visit during your trip, always taking into account their distance from the hotel you'll be staying in. Think of experiences that YOU find particularly enjoyable, instead of spending your whole trip running around from place to place visiting the usual tourist-y locations just because that's what everyone tells you you should do (unless you actually WANT to).
3. Stay open to inspiration coming from EVERYWHERE (not only the visual arts)
Think about things and experiences that usually trigger YOUR inspiration/motivation. If you're an artist, of course you're going to find museums and galleries enjoyable. However, what other things do you find inspiring? Is it history? Architecture? Fashion? Food? Nature? Music? Clubs? What is it for you and how can your personal interests translate into activities that you can experience in that particular city?
I understand how for people it may be important to check off ALL of the tourist attractions in specific cities, especially because you never know when you'll be able to go back to that particular place. However, try to also incorporate your personal interests into your trip. I often find quaint, lesser known establishments/areas just as enjoyable as the bigger attractions, and I also LOVE getting to know what life is like for locals. Having the opportunity to chat with locals is very inspiring because you get to know perspectives of people living in cities different from your own.
In my blog post titled How I Find Inspiration as an Artist and Some Ideas to Keep You Going, I talk about the mentality I've adopted as an artist that allows me to be constantly inspired to create. I also give some useful tips that you can apply to keep your creativity flowing steadily.
Supplies and inspirational items I bought during my trip:
1. Black back-pack and pins: Sonic Boom Records
2. The Starving Artist Cookbook, written and illustrated by Sara Zin: Sonic Boom Records
3. Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook: Art Gallery of Ontario Museum (Gift shop)
4. Emily Carr and Lawren Harris Art Magnets: Art Gallery of Ontario Museum (Gift shop)
5. AGO Museum Tote Bag: Art Gallery of Ontario Museum (Gift shop)
6. Emily Carr- An Introduction to Her Life and Art: Acadia Art and Rare Books
*Book can be acquired through Amazon HERE.
7. Wanderlust and Wildflowers Colored Pencils: Kid Icarus Gift and Screen Print Shop
8. Green Ink Pad: Kid Icarus Gift and Screen Print Shop
9. Schoolbook Lowercase Alphabet Stamps: Kid Icarus Gift and Screen Print Shop
Artusiasm is an amazing art gallery that was recommended to me by an artist/designer kind enough to respond to my calling through Instagram! I'm so thankful for this recommendation because the gallery and its owners are truly amazing people! Thanks Ben!! :)
*Click on the images below to visit Artusiasm's site.
To end this blog post, I want to remind you to try to find a balance between enjoying life, taking care of yourself, and staying productive. If you're lucky enough to travel, enjoy the experience as much as possible, remain open, and most likely, inspiration will happen naturally. Don't pressure yourself and focus more on recording your thoughts, feelings and ideas!
I wish you the best of luck in your art journey and lots of opportunities for traveling!
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