Three tips to becoming a traveling artist
Are you an artist who wants to travel full-time as a traveling artist? Becoming a traveling artist can be possible, but it requires a lot of intentionality. It definitely comes with tradeoffs. Art studios are often filled with the various tools of the trade, whatever trade that is. Some styles of art simply can't go on the road. Anything that requires large tools and lots of space is out. (I put my work with polymer clay on pause because of this.) Other things lend themselves better to travel, like drawing or painting. But even then, you have to accept the limitations of the road.
If you plan to travel for just a short period of time, like a couple weeks on a vacation, you can just bring a small amount with you and then return to the rest of your supplies at home. No problem. But if, like me, you want to travel full-time, you'll need to re-shape your art studio so that it fits into your suitcase. This isn't always easy. Here are three tips that I've learned from my experience to help you transition into full-time travel without leaving your art studio behind entirely.
1. Prepare to downsize
Once you make the decision that you want to become a traveling artist, you'll want to start making a mental shift around you art practice. Ask yourself: what do I actually use every day? Are there things you could start doing without? Test yourself by starting to limit what you use when you're making. How does it feel? Are you able to get by? Practicing using fewer things will help you focus on what you'll need to take with you.
You can practice by packing up a bag and taking it somewhere else for a creative day. Maybe you can go to a cafe, a friend's house, or a park. Have a nice lil' art date with yourself, and see how it feels to use your limited setup. If you were missing something, you can add it to your setup next time.
A few practice runs will help you fine-tune what to bring with you. I'm sure you'll surprise yourself with what you're able to do without.
Also remember that you can get things on the road! Depending on where you'll be traveling, you'll have more or less access to certain supplies. But basics like paper towels or a glass for water you can expect to get when you land somewhere. Highly specialized items like watercolor paints you might want to plan to bring with you. You can research the locations where you'll be to see what art stores they have or what online shipping will be available to replenish your supplies.
2. Shift to digital
Another path to becoming a traveling artist and making art on the road without worrying about the space for supplies is to go digital. All sorts of styles of digital art can be made with just two utencils: a tablet and a pencil or stylus. I use an iPad and an Apple Pencil, but you can use any tablet and stylus combination that's available to you.
As someone who has long loved analog art, the shift to digital at first felt uncomfortable. But like any new medium, it just takes some practice. Once you're used to it, you'll find that you can create all sorts of art. And it's extremely travel friendly!
Before going digital, I was doing analog collage work by cutting lines out of books. When I travelled, I would bring 5-10 books with me each time, plus all the tins I had for these lines. This takes up a ton of space, not to mention the weight to carry it around 😅 Since going digital, I can have 10 or 100 books with me without any extra weight.
Consider how you can transition the art you're making today to digital forms, or what new digital forms you might enjoy exploring. Between drawing, painting, animation, collage, and more, there's something for everyone. You can always run through YouTube for free tutorials to get started, or purchase classes from artists in styles you admire. This will help you explore new styles and build new skills.
3. See being a traveling artist as an opportunity, not a limitation
While it may feel hard to set aside some of the things you normally have access to, you can choose to see your travels as an opportunity to feed your creativity. What new mental material will you have after your adventure? And what skills can you pick up on the road? If you see the limitations travel brings to your art as opportunities, you'll expand your abilities instead of feeling limited in your access.
Having a flexible mindset is an important part of long-term travel anyway, and it will help you get more expansive in your creative practice.
Have a great time on your creative adventure as a full-time traveling artist
If full-time travel is what you want, you're going to make it happen. I believe in you. And you don't need to leave your creative practice behind. Making art as a full-time traveler is totally possible, and may even grow your artistic inspiration.
If you have any questions about being a traveling artist, leave a comment below, and I'd be happy to help you out.
Thank you for being here 👋 I'm a queer artist who has intentionally built a life where I can work remotely and travel the world. Along the way, I'm trying to figure out how to be a good human.
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