Whether you're an ad-hoc traveller, a digital nomad, or just someone who wants to continue their art practice during their holidays, traveling as an artist can be both exciting and daunting. Trying to balance the demands of a travel schedule with the desire to create can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. With some careful planning and a few helpful tips, you can ensure that your travel plans and art practice work together seamlessly, and even inspire and complement one another. In this blog post, I'll provide you with my top ten tips for artists and illustrators on the road, so you can keep creating and exploring without sacrificing one for the other!
1: Plan ahead
Make a list of all the necessary items you will need for your travels and for your artwork. What are your favourite art materials that you need to bring? Do you need a smaller, lightweight sketchbook for quick observational drawings? Pack light and be practical, only bringing essential art supplies that you honestly think you will use rather than everything in your art box. I know it's hard to be selective (for years I travelled with 30 different types of black pen!) but don't forget, lots of art supplies can be purchased abroad if necessary. If you work digitally, don't forget to bring an adapter for your laptop/iPad charger and a protective case, and check that your insurance covers any loss or damage that may occur.
2. Keep your art supplies organised
Store your art supplies in a compact and organized way to avoid losing or damaging them. If you're travelling with hand luggage only, you won't be able to bring anything sharp, such as scissors or craft knives, or any liquids over 100ml, so you'll need to check these things in. Wrap everything carefully, to avoid paint explosions in your suitcase! If you work digitally, consider buying an electronics bag to keep all your wires and charges neat, protected, and easy to find.
3. Network with other artists
Whilst on the road, take advantage of opportunities to meet other artists and attend creative events. These can be a lot of fun, and can sometimes lead to potential collaborations, exhibitions, or sales. Research artist meet ups, local gallery events, drawing classes, and creative workshops in the area, you never know what you might find or who you might meet!
4. Stay focused on your art
If your goal is keep up your creative practice during your travels, you'll need to keep yourself accountable and find ways to prioritise your art, even when you're on the move. Schedule in regular time for creating, whether it's ten minutes a day or full days dedicated to your art. The amount of time you spend on your art is up to you, but the key is to create a routine and stick to it.
5. Take care of yourself
Although travelling can be a lot of fun, it can be exhausting at times, especially when you factor in long flights, changes in routine, new climate and a change in diet. All these things can wear down your immune system and sap your energy, so make sure to get enough rest, exercise, and try and fit in some healthy meals in between all the aeroplane food and hotel breakfasts. Staying physically and mentally healthy is crucial for maintaining a productive and creative lifestyle, so don't neglect this one!
6. Stay connected with your audience
Use social media or email newsletters to keep your community updated about your travels and your new work. This is also an excellent way to gain new followers and customers, and to give your community a 'behind the scenes' insight into your process and inspiration. Why not share a quick sketch you made at the beach? Or share that Mediterranean colour palette you just created?
7. Be aware of cultural differences
Different cultures have different social norms and expectations. As an artist, it's important to be aware of these differences and to be respectful of local customs and beliefs when creating and exhibiting your art. For example, in some countries people may be offended if you photograph them or draw them without asking permission. If in doubt, ask a trusted local for advice, or post on a local community group to find out about local best practices.
8. Research your destination
before you travel, research your destination to learn about its history, culture, and art scene. This can help you find inspiration and new artistic perspectives. Make a list of any local art galleries you want to visit, and book tickets in advance to any popular galleries or museums.
9. Think about where you will be creating your art
Will you be drawing out and about? If so, you might need to consider clothing and tools for this (eg. a foldaway chair, an easel, suncream, a raincoat, and a hat!) Or if you plan to work at home, be sure to find a spacious apartment or a big enough hotel room that has enough space for you to work comfortably in. If you plan to work in cafes, research a few in advance, to make sure you have some quiet options that will allow you to stay there for a long period of time and aren't overrun with tourists. If you need a more reliable workspace to create your art, consider renting a space at a local studio or join a coworking space.
10. Have fun!
While it's important to stay focused on your art, traveling is also an amazing opportunity to explore and have fun! So don't forget to take breaks, take photos, sightsee, and soak up each moment of the journey!