8 Ways Art and Design are like Travel

Looking through my blog homepage, a variety of posts will tell you my interests range from fashion to travel to theatre to my handmade jewelry. What is it all about? How can my variety of interests and work possibly translate into a main overlapping theme? I may be covering a broad range with my posts, but a closer look will tell you how similar all of my subjects can be. I often find that planning my next travel journey is no different than how I jump into my latest collection of knotted jewelry or working on a project for my next post featuring sustainable and ethical fashion. Are you curious about what I mean? Then read more to see how the methods and lessons behind art and design are similar to those of travel:

  • You must look outside of your comfort zone: Any artistic process will push your boundaries and at times require you to look beyond what you know to figure a solution to a problem. Whether I’m tying a knot for a jewelry piece for the first time or determining how to translate a show’s costume designs into a modern outfit featuring sustainable fashion companies, there’s always a time where I have to think differently than I had on previous projects. How will I incorporate beads that are too small for the cording of the Tangerine necklace in Springing Into Pantone 2015? How will I translate the bright embroidery and eclectic colors of Mr. Fezziwig into a modern suit for A Christmas Carol Style? Answering these questions takes creative thought beyond what is recognizable and comfortable for me. Travel is no exception. No culture is the same and expectations are different in every country. Beyond learning a new language, traveling internationally requires you to be open-minded, patient, and willing to jump in, even if you don’t feel ready. The great thing about all of this that with each new step you take, you build your confidence and feel one step closer to finding yourself.
  • You build a roadmap to your destination: Some people mistakenly assume that I just “make stuff” without drawings, sketches or preliminary ideas written ahead of time. Not true. I always sketch out knots I want to incorporate into my jewelry, I’m always given a dressing list with information regarding location and actors in costume changes I’m assigned, and I constantly write ideas and notes in journals for future blog posts so I know where I’m headed. Seasoned travelers will tell you they do the same thing. Preparing travel checking accounts; purchasing travel insurance; researching destinations for history, safety, and attractions; and carefully listing items to pack ranging from DSLR cameras to first aid kits to laundry supplies for hand-washing are just some of the steps travelers consider before boarding their plane. Communicating and preparing ahead of time can go a long way and cure a lot of headaches in the long run.Knitting and Books (L)
  • What you originally planned may not be the path you end up following: Sometimes a knot like the Pan Chang Knot requires me to practice several times before I finally complete a beautiful knot. Sometimes a dress I picked for a style set doesn’t work well with other accessories I’ve chosen to reflect the landscape of Machu Picchu in Peruvian Style Inspiration, so I have to start over and find other options. Sometimes the materials I suggest for a sustainable fashion company’s products don’t work as I expect, so I have to consult other resources for alternatives to varnish and shellac to seal the natural dye in straw clutches. During my sister’s recent trip with friends to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Vienna an airline strike deterred their flight to Prague. This delay postponed them for a day in Frankfurt, Germany, but their Instagram photos suggest they made the best of their detour. Even though Frankfurt wasn’t on their itinerary, they were amendable to the situation and weren’t opposed to another stamp in their passports. Sometimes accidents or setbacks end up being the best part of your journey and become the “Happy Accidents” that got you to a rewarding place you didn’t expect.
  • What you do may be a process of trial and error: Figuring out how to change hair, make-up, jewelry, shoes, and costume pieces in under a few minutes for “The Legend of Georgia McBride” featured in A Look Through Lashes took practice and working changes over and over again. Determining how to tie a butterfly knot for Spread Your Wings: Knotted Edition took many times of untying and retying cording to get the final result. When it came to surfing in Mancora, Peru this past summer, as shown in Surfer Girl, I had to be willing jump on the board, even if I was afraid of falling or looking like a fool in front of my surfing instructor. My travel photography is constantly a process of taking multiple pictures and trying new angles to capture a unique view or state of mind. Finding your way through projects or a problem requires patience and a willingness to fail and pick yourself back up when things don’t work out and try again.
  • What happens looks great on the outside, but behind it all is a different story: Telling people I have worked in costumes brings about certain misconceptions including the degree of difficulty and excitement involved in costuming. Dressers, wardrobe supervisors, stitchers, first hands, drapers, tailors, costume designers, costume crafts artisans, and costume shop managers will tell you the opposite of most common assumptions about this line of work. More detailed planning, organization, communication and skills are required to take on this area of work, which you can learn about in Common Myths About Costuming. The same assumption that my life is glamorous happens when I tell people of my latest travels. Little do they realize I have endured stomach infections, heatstroke, struggles when learning and understanding languages as shown in Say My Name, and stress from uncertainty. Realizing that the path you embark on will be equal parts planning, work, and enjoyment will make the challenges you encounter become a time of growth and a new version of yourself will emerge from it.Costumes and Packing (L)
  • There is an equal amount of working individually and collaborating: Whether I’m collaborating with colleagues on how to create packets of information for artisans to follow and create a company’s products or collaborating with actors, designers, and other dressers on how to manage a quick costume change, there’s a certain amount of working with others and figuring out steps on my own involved in my work. When I’m blogging or writing, the material can be determined by me, but when it comes to developing my audience and sharing my work, I often have to step outside of my individual project and interact with organizations, companies, and followers on Social Media. Travel can be much the same way. Although I’m planning trips to take on my own, I also plan on meeting others I’ve interacted with through blogging and friends who want to be a part of my journeys. Even when I travel alone, I can’t avoid meeting or collaborating with others on possible day trips or hiking trails nearby. Working with others as much as working by yourself teaches you about the kind of friends you want, the type of workplace you thrive in, and the kind of person you want to be.
  • You will find new ways to be resourceful: After working on craft projects, whether they’re for costumes or a jewelry post, I keep leftover scraps for other projects and create minimal waste. As a recent Sustainable and Ethical Fashion advocate, I always admire those who can find ways to use materials for purposes other than what they were intended for. My mom has been the best inspiration for repurposing as she pieces my dad’s old Los Angeles Dodger t-shirts for a quilt and acquires the recent undertaking of turning a woven Dodger poncho into a footstool covering. Travel requires this same amount of resourcefulness and finding ways to use something for multiple purposes. Microfiber, quick-drying towels from REI can be used for its original purpose as a bathroom towel, but you can take it to the beach, roll wet clothes in it to squeeze out additional water, and carry it on a hike to deal with excess sweat. Wearing clothes more than once for multiple travel outfits can go a long way and save room in your suitcase. “Travel must-have: Baking soda” by Travelettes recently told me the great ways to use baking soda while traveling (Blog Post). Rethinking how you use something can save room, be helpful for the “Just in Case” moments, and show you how little you need in the world to be happy and successful.
  • No matter what happens, you’ll see how important it is to have faith in yourself: In terms of art and design, there will always be critics who dislike what you do or disagree with your design approach. There will always people who tell you how they would have done something different. Does mean that you are completely wrong? No. You have to experiment to learn and grow and even when you think of reasons why a design won’t be popular or understood by everyone, you often have to have faith in your work and the one reason why it will work. When traveling, I find the same doubts creep into my head and I wonder if I’ve made the best decision for myself by going to a country on my own where I don’t know the language or customs very well. Struggling with possible criticism from others as you stumble along a new culture or country can be a frustrating at times, but the confidence you gain from standing up every time you fall down and maintaining your faith in yourself can be rewarding and make you eager to take on a new challenge. I’ve often found that with each step forward I take, as a challenge arises, I remind myself to have faith and when I reach my destination I look back on my process and find it to be just as rewarding.

I’m sure this is just a small list of how much these fields overlap and the similar lessons they have taught me, but I love seeing how often they intertwine with one another. I’ve enjoyed finding these connections and seeing how my travel adventures or creative endeavors affect what I do next in life. So, over to you:

What similarities do you find between travel and your field?  What lessons have these similarities taught you?


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