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Every artist should travel

Every artist should travel

A great way to improve as an artist

Article by Willie Jimenez

This article is about the years I spent traveling across Europe while in the Navy and how that experience effected me and my art. How I picked up photography and got better along the way in both taking picture and digital painting because of it.

We all know artist can be reclusive, at least that’s the romantic stereotype people seem to assume. To an artist all that matters is the work and will forgo everything else in pursuit of creating that next great masterpiece. But you know what is also a stereotype… artist block.

In the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, she talks a lot about the “the artist date”. Basically to have good art come out of you, you need inspiration coming in. So it’s important to refuel and recharge routinely. I’ve personally found traveling and taking photos to be both very rewarding and refreshing.

Trying new things

We all draw from what we know, and so when you run out inspiration you should be looking for new experiences, living, and gathering new stories to tell. I think learning anything new like a new medium or technique is an awesome way to open up possibilities and creativity. But photography is easy entry. It doubles as research for later and (if suffer from starring at computer screen or arm pains from drawing too much) it’s gives your body a break while sill working your mind.

Traveling to exotic new paces awakens your mind, which has been probably on some type of auto pilot because you’ve been working on that big project for the past few weeks. When you enter a new space for first time you are alert and assessing thing differently. It’s even better if you’re urban sketching or taking photos.

Every artist should travel (a great way to improve as an artist)

Every artist should travel (a great way to improve as an artist)

We may not always get paid vacations (hardly ever) working freelance or on our own passion projects. But creative work can be very stressful. This is the point of “the artist date” treat your self right and give yourself a break.

Use all the senses

Meeting new people, eating different types of food, viewing different cultures thats how you get exposed to different ideas. All things you can use later to avoid your work getting stale. This is how you avoid repeating yourself. Inspiration can come from anything and anywhere, but you have to go out to get it.

One can do a lot on their own or without heading too far, maybe just trying a different restaurant or listening to a new album of music. But travel really forces a bigger change and on that effects all your sense at once. Therefor the experience is that much more effective and longer lasting. I think as humans we all have an aversion to change. But we need to learn to adapt. This is how we evolve and grow.

Experience art in person

I’m reminded of another book called the “Ways of Seeing” by John Berger. We have all seen the Mona Lisa (or the sistine chapel ceiling in google or in print somewhere), But seeing it in person is different. Like certain movies you want to see in theater vs sitting at home. Some pieces of art are worth seeing in person. You can better see the layers of paint and detail, and there’s something about being in Florence that will make you feel and act different, which is why we end up buying leather jackets that are way over priced.

Every artist should travel (a great way to improve as an artist)

Every artist should travel (a great way to improve as an artist)

Seeing some of these pieces of art was great. But the whole experience of being at the Louvre Museum or the Vatican, just can’t be beat. Hearing stories of the Medici family while traveling around Florence. Just ignore the long lines and trouble to get to some of these, it’s worth it.

World building

I’m studying to be a concept artist, and there is a lot of environment sketching and environment design. Urban sketching is great for this. And when you draw something that exist like a jungle or forest. It helps to have been there in some way. We draw and write what we know cause it comes easier for us.

Every artist should travel (a great way to improve as an artist)

Every artist should travel (a great way to improve as an artist)

But even for made up worlds traveling helps, when I visited Venice Italy for the first time. I really felt like I was on another planet. Water everywhere no cars just boats.

Every artist should travel (a great way to improve as an artist)

And you had to walk and figure out these bridges to get to where out wanted to go. It was a feeling that stuck with me. You look at the world around you the way a child does. (I’m going again soon and I can’t wait.)

A new perspective

When I got back from the Navy I learn to look at my city (NYC) in a new way, as a tourist. I took some amazing pictures and ended up exploring different parts of the city, that I just never knew was there cause I never had a need to. And I feel in love it again in a new way. Same when I got back to the Caribbean which in my mind was just some place where my grandmother lived. In both cases I guess I didn’t know how lucky I was growing up cause it was all just normal to me.

Every artist should travel (a great way to improve as an artist)

Conclusion

So travel! I mean you can do smaller things like I said. But for me travel was life changing. If you gonna take a break, then really take it and go out there. Theres great groups you can find and artist trips where you spend a few days learning and planar painting. But if you want to be alone. Just grab a camera and head out alone. My compositions and framing have grown a lot by doing so. Plus I got great stories to tell while I was building my visual library.

Check out more photos and art on my page
instagram.com/williejimenezart/

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