How changing location can reinvigorate your creativity

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How changing location can reinvigorate your creativity

Do you remember your first year at university? The jitters and excitement about a new place and new people? They returned with a vengeance for me and my twin sister Chloe when we embarked on our recent co-working, co-living experience in Jávea, Spain.
Chloe and I form the creative studio, Buttercrumble. In a bid to re-spark our imagination, we decided to change our working location for 16 days. It was time to switch up the scenery. ¡Hola Spain! It’s such an attractive country for us. The hot sunshine, slow-living and food… ¡Estupendo!
We’ve treated this adventure as an informal ‘residency’ to test out working in new conditions. Our new home-away-from-home can act as a fully-functioning studio. Except, it’s essentially a hotel. Freelancers, entrepreneurs and creatives travel from all over the globe to stay and work temporarily. It’s fuelling the rise of the digital nomads! Whilst living here we’ve met Canadian, German, American, Dutch, Brazilian and Spanish professionals. The world suddenly feels huge and tiny at the same time. You suddenly realise: you are all tiny fishes swimming towards an ideal future.
We’ve treated this adventure as an informal ‘residency’ to test out working in new conditions.
Whilst away, we’ve been completing ongoing projects involving brand identity and retail design. However, we felt it was important to set aside time for a ‘passion project’ too.
Illustration holds a huge place in our hearts so we’ve been gathering research and inspiration for this.
Chloe and I always collaborate on projects, yet we were the minority at our residency. Most people staying with us are ‘solo-preneurs’ and solo-travellers. They’re each focusing on their own, individual projects. Nevertheless, there’s still a sense of unity as we share expertise and experiences with each other. It’s facilitated by the building, which is designed for co-working, and encourages skills sharing.
For a neat freak – like me – the idea of sharing my living space with strangers sets me on a knife edge. However, throwing ourselves out of our comfort zones has been therapeutic – this is how we develop. It’s so easy to get comfortable in your everyday studio. What is it like to feel uncomfortable? It’s an insight. I learnt about the huge amount of diversity in the world and the ways we, personally, like to work.
In the new surroundings, there is excitement. We are alert to the new setting and people. In a way, it keeps our minds topped up, so there’s no room for menial distractions.
At home, we are familiar with our surroundings so we find boredom creeps in and we’re searching for distractions. In the new surroundings, there is excitement. We are alert to the new setting and people. In a way, it keeps our minds topped up, so there’s no room for menial distractions.
On the other hand, a new location can be seductive. It lures you into participating in other activities, which can only be a good thing. It’d be a wasted opportunity to stay glued to the laptop, staring at the same old screen.
Therefore, we’ve had excursions to the beach, quaint boutiques and characterful restaurants. All with work in hand! It’s provided inspiration and there are plenty of new experiences to illustrate and use throughout our designs. It’s opening our eyes to what is out there and building a knowledge bank for the future.
Before travelling, we’d recommend you organise what you’d like to do when you get to your new space. Think about your aims and purpose and note these down before you go.
Another learning curve has been the language barrier. We speak just enough Spanish to get by, which is where the power of visual communication takes the upper hand. Imagery is a universal tool for language which can be utilised. When we’re reminded of this, it bolsters our work.
Before travelling, we’d recommend you organise what you’d like to do when you get to your new space. Think about your aims and purpose and note these down before you go. If you like list-making, tick each task off as you complete it on your adventure. You’ll feel a sense of achievement rather than impending guilt because you’re not chained to your usual desk.
From our time abroad, we’ve learnt that experience is valuable, so travelling to a new location is always worth it. It just takes courage. The courage to be in the unknown. You’ll talk to new people and you’ll talk new languages (maybe badly). Most things will be new to you and that’s good because you learn. These experiences are necessary for growth and inspiration. We’ve been, we’ve seen and we’ve been inspired.
Buttercrumble is a design collective based in Garforth, Leeds “with a focus on characterful illustration and fun graphic design”. See buttercrumble.com. Illustration: Buttercrumble
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