It’s not that traveling is for everyone of course: some of Gunship Revolution’s best artists have been known to spend years at a time never straying past a mile from their home offices. There is a case to be made though that all freelance artists have something to gain from taking off and exploring the world once in a while, whether it be off the edge of the world or off the city rail stations you just tend to skip most of the time. Here are a handful of figurative souvenirs you might want to make sure you pick up the next time you’re out.
A BREAK FROM MONOTONY
First thing’s first: you’re somewhere else. Being anywhere other than the place you sleep, work, or do groceries at is the essence of traveling and that unfamiliarity is something to relish and relish consciously. There is, in that initial disorientation, a kind of unshackling from all those firmly established mental images that make up what we mistakenly call "our lives.” This obviously won’t be a permanent escape (unless you decide to slip off everybody’s radar and start a new life with a counterfeit passport and a nose prosthesis) but there is a chance there to assess what it is that we have been going asleep and waking up to. Perhaps it might even be the best time to plot a change of course.
The same old things breed the same old things. Since art imitates life, there’s a chance that your art might be limited by the places and things you experience day to day. There’s the internet and references books to widen your visual library obviously and that will be your bread and butter when you’re stuck in your workspace in the heat of a project. However, many artists who are very particular with the media they consume tend to sell their visual libraries short, studying reference pics of many of their projects' elements for the first time. What travel does is that it forces you to see new things or old things in new ways. Sunsets happen with the same sun going down the same sky but your experience of the light, the colors, and the gradual dimming of the world can differ immensely simply by taking one street instead of another.
As it stands, the world is matter is still technically “the real world.” As such, most art still generally involves real world things: Even fantasy and futuristic art has a lot to benefit from a little experiential knowledge of things like fabric, metalwork or animal movement. In the end of the day, you’re trying to communicate experiences to your audiences and a sincere experience, well executed, can make the difference between a good piece of art and a great one. Also, it’s a kind of protection from nit-picky geeks who may feel very strongly about the detail you might botch.
I’ve mentioned earlier how the limits of our interest in entertainment or on topics of study may limit or visual library. Another way that travel might solve that is when we discover new things to like that we might not have discovered at home, online, procrastinating at four in the morning. By opening ourselves up to new experiences, we open ourselves up to new things that can capture our imaginations - and no one learns more intensely, more meticulously, and more sincerely than a thoroughly captivated person.
SOMEONE ELSE’S SHOES
Physically sharing in a different culture, especially when making friends or visiting distant family, presents us with the opportunity not only to observe but also to understand why certain experiences are so important to the cultures that treasure them. Again, this could be anything from being swept into some bizarre fertility festival or simply just learning what people find so appealing in beer. As artists tend to be asked to portray scenes about characters that aren’t them, experiences like these broaden our capacity to reason as someone with different values or backgrounds might.
Traveling, especially traveling alone, is a microcosm of the freelancing experience: you’re out there alone with only your wits and your budget, having to deal with a world full of strangers while navigating unfamiliar territory. With that in mind, there’s so much to glean from traveling given that mindset and the memories you make on the road are a good way of getting those lessons to stick.
CONTEXT AND PERSPECTIVE
The interesting thing about art is that it has been around before we got here, it will still be around long before we are gone, and that it is going on 24/7 whether we’re engaging in it or not. Traveling as a Freelance Artist is the perfect opportunity to see that wider world of art in person. Museums covering the history of art can be intensely powerful experiences, especially when looking through the work of people who have either inspired you or had blazed the trail before you. On the other hand, visiting strange new galleries, art book stores or festivals can give us a sense of what’s “State of the Art,” granting glimpses of current trends, possible future opportunities, and perhaps even our place and role in all of it.