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Why traveling to new places helps grow your creativity

Novel Experiences and Creativity

By Andrea Slusarski, Artist and Educator

Novelty by its definition is new, original, unusual, and overall exciting. It’s no wonder then that it plays a critical role in Creativity, as originality is a key (measurable) ingredient in creative acts. It’s the uniqueness and originality creators bring to their practice, and what I also feel is necessary for fueling my own curiosity and attention to my experiences through visual journaling. Creativity researcher and psychologist Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California-Davis would agree, he wrote in his History of Creativity Research - “Psychologists usually define creativity as the capacity to produce ideas that are both original and adaptive. In other words, the ideas must be both new and workable or functional. Thus, creativity enables a person to adjust to novel circumstances and to solve problems that unexpectedly arise” (Simonton, 2001, p. 2).

“Novel circumstances” are taking a new class for the first time, an unusual connection that makes you excited in your creative process and if you are fortunate to, traveling to new places. These all provide a spark or connection to curiosity that is heightened by the increased novelty of your surroundings. With traveling to a completely new place acting like rocket fuel to creative connections.

When I’m traveling, plein air sketching is my way of capturing that novelty. With landscapes always changing and the time/place/experience adding the newness or plein air look to my lines and colors. Best of all, with my visual journal in my pocket at all times, “traveling” can be as special as going to my local coffee shop with a friend. 

While I’ll always argue your daily creative acts in your everyday life can be just as novel and important – those same daily habits of visual journaling while traveling or being in those novel experiences helps me pay even more attention to the world around me. Which is why I cannot stress enough how valuable my visual journal is for me in seeing and reflecting on my creative connections AND that’s something we all have the ability to connect with. 

Try it out for yourself.

At home - Create a conscious contour drawing of a corner of your office or home. Draw for 10 minutes. What was something new or novel you discovered about this everyday space when drawing?

Traveling - Travel by Map! The Muppets taught me this one. Make a visual drawing or map out your travels. Where are you starting? Where are you going too? Reflect on what you are excited for and enjoy visualizing your travels.

Speaking of travel... Next summer, I’m leading a creative retreat in Lamu, Kenya with Coalition Snow’s Far Out Adventures (I’m happy dancing in my studio currently). I’ll be instructing five days of creative exploration — where we get to engage with the novelty and magic of Lamu island. 

(Want to join me? I’d love to explore Kenya with you and our journals! Check out more details and sign up here.)



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