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Travel as a Source of Creative Inspiration

Whether their destinations are close to home or far away, many creative professionals in need of artistic inspiration say they find it through travel. Trips can help generate new ideas or break stifling routines, creative travelers say, adding that the process of obtaining distance from problems sometimes can help in finding solutions.

As a recent article entitled “Why We Travel” in the British newspaper The Observer puts it: “Our thoughts are shackled by the familiar. … As a result, creativity is traded way for efficiency; we think it literal prose, not symbolist poetry. A bit of distance, however, helps loosen the chains of cognition, making it easier to see something new in the old.”

For Josh Kenyon, a trip to Bali, Indonesia, in 2008 helped the designer and illustrator tap into another side of his creativity. The main reason for the getaway for Kenyon and his wife, who now live in Portland, Ore., was a vacation away from their home at the time in Chicago. But it served a broader purpose.

“Before taking the trip, I had all these expectations and thought I would be coming up with ideas nonstop while I was there,” shares the alumnus of The Art Institute of California – San Diego. “When we got Bali, I tried to force myself to create something but nothing came out, so I stopped and just sat back and enjoyed what was going on around me. … It was not until after we returned home that I did artwork inspired by my experience in Bali.”

Hitting the pause button on the day-to-day demands of work is sometimes enough to recharge the creative batteries. For Kenyon, meeting locals, eating Balinese cuisine, and sitting on the beach for hours and staring at the ocean provided him with a new perspective and view of himself as a designer.

After his trip, Kenyon created a series of designs called Balance: A Journey to Bali. The series includes giclĂ©e prints titled Prayer Songs, inspired by the morning prayer rituals he witnessed in Bali, and The Reef, which reflects the organic shapes and patterns of the coral in the island’s crystal blue water.

“To have new ideas, we must have new inspiration — and travel helps that happen,” says Sam Harrison, a speaker and writer on creativity-related topics. His books include IdeaSelling: Successfully pitch your creative ideas to bosses, clients and other decision makers and ZING! Five steps and 101 tips for creativity on command. Going to new places takes people out of the familiar and into the unknown, where fresh insights await, adds Harrison, who has broad experience as a communications and marketing professional.

Instead of taking work to vacation, Harrison recalls times when insights from trips were brought to work. For example, photos taken of wooden baskets during a hike through olive orchards in Italy’s Cinque Terre inspired a marketing team to create reclaimed-wood accessories for a home-office catalog.

“In the jungles of Belize, I saw hummingbirds with remarkable colors that inspired the color scheme for a direct-marketing promotion,” Harrison says.

Inspiring trips don’t have to be long-distance or feature exotic settings. A visit to the next town or even neighborhood can be eye-opening.

“Living in Portland, I can drive 15 minutes and be in the forest and that is inspiring to me,” Kenyon says.

In addition to personal travel, Harrison says company and team retreats can be a good way to brainstorm. “Retreats are great for creative teams — getting out of ordinary workspaces helps people think in extraordinary ways,” Harrison says. “But this comes with a caveat: Don’t feel you always have to get away from the office in order to effectively brainstorm. If you fall in that rut, you won’t brainstorm nearly enough.”

Read the entire article HERE

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