(written in a Washington, D.C. hotel after some great local craft brews)
Travel is good for the soul. Art is good for the soul. A soul inspired by travel creates great art. In other news, water is still wet.
Ok, so why am I bothering to write about this? It seems rather obvious. Well, put down your brush, here is more breath-taking news: life and financial situations often interfere with your travel plans as an artist.
But why is travel so important for art?
1. It allows you to experience cultures other than your own which enhances your perceptions of the realities you interpret through your art.
2. It can expose you to new methods and practices which may improve your art.
3. It provides you with the opportunity to study different styles and media of your form of art.
4. It enriches you with new subject matter.
5. It centers your soul and grounds you in your own insignificance.
I could add more, but this is a blog post and you get the point...travel matters. But we are all starving artists (unless you kept your day job...see what I did there...) so what's an artist to do?
Hold up a mirror, and check your reality.
1. Start small. How many art museums within a day's driving distance of your home have you visited? How many other local artists and art shows have you been to? It's not a week in Florence, but travel isn't about distance. It's about diversity.
2. Business 101. If you are selling your work, realize that is business. And great businesses reinvest a percentage of their profits back into research and design to manage sustainable growth. Travel is a bit like artistic R & D.
3. Commit. Don't just say some day. Pick a day. Put some skin in the game. Book the hotel. Now you have already spent money on the travel and you are not likely to waste that money. Now you have real incentive to pass up your morning latte while you are saving for those plane tickets.
4. Be cheap. The best stories happen on sixteen hour road trips (like visiting zombie malls). Stay in a B&B (sure it's across the street from a cemetery and you still can't sleep after a whole bottle of wine, but the color on the pillows and the pattern on the bathroom tiles would make a great work!)
5. Prioritize. If you don't make it happen, it won't happen. What's that saying? If it's important to you, you'll find a way. If it isn't, you'll find an excuse.
Bottom line: As artists, we are afforded the task of seeing reality for what it is, thinking deeply about that reality, and interpreting it. Travel makes us better at doing that. Therefore, we owe it to ourselves, our process, our art, and our audience to seek out professional development through travel.
I hope you meet you at a boarding gate soon!