September 17, 2018

Guest blog: How to network and find meaning as an artist on the road

Guest blog: How to network and find meaning as an artist on the road

The power of creative collaboration and networking between artists is what our festival thrives on. To see collaboration take shape at TiNA, be sure to head to one of our music and arts parties this long weekend. It will bring the unexpected and introduce you to the local music scene in a distinctly TiNA way. In this guest blog, young artist Julia Zoellner writes about how to forge meaningful connections on the road and network as an artist.

Travelling on your own can be a daunting experience. It often involves long hours spent in solitude without a buddy to pick you up when you’re feeling drained and confused. However the opportunities for challenge and growth are limitless if you know how to put yourself out there. And while there are countless columns on the internet offering advice to the solo traveller, not many focus on the unique situation of the artist and the ways that creatives can network overseas. When creative people travel, they explore creativity in new places through the lens of new experience, learning more about themselves and their art in the process.

Through my journey travelling through Asia and Australia for almost a year, I have met many artists who shared their knowledge, taught me their craft and many became good friends. My mission on this journey has been to inspire people to be creative, learn new skills, stretch boundaries and stay curious all the time.

The advice below has been drawn from my experiences on the open road, where I have been living with the intention to enrich my creative practice and make meaningful connections along the way.

Here are my favourite tips for the travelling artist.

Find a creative place to stay or stick around. Artist residencies are a good option, however the application process can sometimes be complicated and lengthy. For shorter stays, look out for creative hostels (anything with a boho look is usually a winner), art cafes, open studios, art centres, creative labs, workshop venues, and institutions such as universities or museums. By establishing yourself in a creative residence, the artist within you will be inspired to take the next step.

Visit independent galleries in the area. Most of the time these places are run by the artist itself or a gallery manager. Both will have a solid understanding of the local art scene and can point you in the right direction. Introduce yourself and have a chat, ask about the work exhibited, the uniqueness of the creative industry, and upcoming events to look out for.

The power of hashtags. Instagram has become a search engine of its own and can be a powerful tool for artists looking for inspiration. I use it to locate creatives and find inspiring activities in a new city. To make it work simply search hashtag combinations in the format: Location+Artform. Some of my successful searches were #melbourneartist #hanoisketch #angkorwatdrawing #urbansketchingthailand #goaceramics #londonlifedrawing. I promise, you will find creativity everywhere from artists to events and organisations close to you.

Urban Sketching is a world wide phenomenon. For those who can’t leave the house without a sketchbook, urban sketching can hook you up with dream travel encounters and experiences. It’s an international community of like-minded creative types who are drawn to the power of the pencil. In almost every country you can find events happening. Sketching in a new location allows you to become immersed in your surroundings and forge a deeper connection to a new place.

For more information, head to their website and keep an eye out for people sitting on street corners or cafes with a sketchbook. You know what to do.

Be your own creative advocate. Put yourself out there and other creatives will find you. Some ideas: Post in a Facebook travel group that you are looking for a drawing buddy, hang a leaflet in your hostel saying you want to exchange some artsy skills, set up an event on meetup and teach some travellers how to draw, or offer portraits for donation in your area. Too shy for that? Why not find a cozy outside spot or cafe with your sketchbook and see what happens.

Going back to basics. Although you may not make new connections straight away, you will find artists aplenty browsing for brushes, papers and canvas. Art supply shops will also provide information on events, openings, workshops, and most of the time you can find cool magazines laying around. And why not treat yourself while you’re there. It could be just the motivation you need to get back to work on a new concept or project.

Take a vacation with an artist. For those artists willing to immerse themselves in another’s creative universe, the door is wide open. If you want to learn a new skill from an artist working in the field, head to to find creatives sharing studio space and knowledge with you. You could learn the art of pottery in India, grasp the elements of photography in Italy or try your hand at textile dying in Vietnam. There are artists everywhere, and now there is a platform connecting them with you, dear traveller.

For those contemplating a stint as a travelling artist, I will give you two promises. Firstly, creative people are everywhere. And if you can’t find any right away (they are probably sleeping, shy or too humble), just be your own creative advocate. I also promise that by simply sharing your creative aura with the world, you will attract the right people.

Julia Zoellner posts about her travels and artistic endeavours @juliazoellnerart

We hope you will join us in Newcastle for This is Not Art (TiNA) 2018.

Personalise your festival experience by browsing the event program and using the My Festival function on the TiNA website. With no print program this year, the website is the best way to plan your festival. On the ground there will be A3 printed Schedulers but these will have basic event info only, with event descriptions on the website only. See you in Newcastle for #tina2018: Thursday 27 – Sunday 30 September 2018.

Images provided by the artist.