Travel the World: Reinvigorate Your Creativity On the Road | Chanel & Stevo Dirnberger | Skillshare

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Travel the World: Reinvigorate Your Creativity On the Road

teacher avatar Chanel & Stevo Dirnberger, How Far From Home

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Travel and Creativity


    • 3.

      Deciding Where to Go


    • 4.

      Experiencing the World


    • 5.

      Sharing Your Journey


    • 6.

      Final Thoughts


    • 7.



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About This Class

Join Chanel & Stevo from the popular blog How Far From Home for an inspiring 28-minute class on keeping yourself inspired and creative while traveling.

In 2015, they left their advertising jobs, packed 4 bags, and took off. After more than 50,000 miles and 60 destinations in a single year, they're ready to share their insights and secrets. Your "someday" trip can happen sooner than you think!

Learn helpful resources and fun tricks for getting inspired, making money and optimizing your time on the road for learning, adventure and creativity.

Whether you're on an afternoon adventure or a long-term international voyage, travel is a great way to get out of a creative rut and expand your mind and your practice- this class has all you need to get started.

Meet Your Teacher

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Chanel & Stevo Dirnberger

How Far From Home


How Far From Home is a personal project created by award-winning ex-advertising creatives, Chanel Cartell and Stevo Dirnberger.

Chanel and Stevo left their comfortable lives in Johannesburg, South Africa in early 2015, to embark on a creative journey around the world. Their mission is to see how far from home they can get – literally to see how many kilometres they can clock up, and figuratively to see how far out of the comfort zone they can push themselves.

So far, they've mushed with huskies in the Arctic Circle, sailed the Greek islands, scrubbed many toilets in Central Sweden, and covered nothing short of 705,000km traveling through 6 continents.

Their blog at documents their journey, and is a portfolio for all their photography, a... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hey, I'm Steve and this is Chanel. Together we are, How Far from Home. We left our comfortable lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, in March 2015, and we went on a creative journey in search of creative inspiration. We left for an entire year and our mission was to see how far from home we could get, literally, as well as figuratively, how far out the comfort zone, we could push ourselves each and every single day. This class is called Travel For Creative Inspiration. How to reinvigorate your creativity. We're going to look at ways of getting out of the creative rut, with tips on where to go and the power of taking time off from your normal routine. We are also going to look at some of the best ways to share and document your creative journey. Our journey has been a bit of an experiment. We've had a lot of time and freedom to pursue personal creative projects. We've created multiple illustration and art pieces. We've filmed our journey. We've taken over 12,000 photographs and we've written about our adventures on our blog The creative process is an interesting thing. Everyone has their own methodologies, their own banks they visit for inspiration and their own preferred times of day to get in the zone. What bind us all as creative beings though, is this need to create. This need to make a mark and take what's in our head and put it out into the world. It's amazing when it does happen, whether it's a new song, a new dance move you've come up with, a new illustration style. No matter what the medium, it's surreal when you see something come to life. Sometimes, however, we hit it a rut. We get stuck and we feel maybe less inspired. We start to get a bit bored. We maybe start to hate our work because we feel Iike it looks the same. I guess at this point is where we need to shake things up. We need to find new sources of stimulation and inspiration. We discovered that traveling is the best way to do this. It's a cure. Traveling forces you to act on your feet. It stimulates different parts of your brains. I guess it forces you to stay present, you just need to soak everything up. You can't think about what's going to happen next, what's happened in the past. Yeah. You have to live in the moment. It forces you to listen to your gut and it drives you to experience new things. Things that you've never experienced before, which ultimately you draw inspiration from. What is the project? Well, the project is to explore a place that is unfamiliar to you. This could be a forest that you've driven past and you've always wanted to go see it, could be a spice market that you've thought, "Hey, that looks interesting. I really need to go check it out." Or could be a part of the city that you've just never ventured into. Ideally, it would be somewhere foreign, out of the city or even out of the country that you've always wanted to travel to. It's up to you. Then after you have explored that section and that area as much as you can and you've soaked it all up, we want you to create a creative piece in a medium that is unfamiliar to you. Something that you never tried before, something that's going to keep you on your toes and then you need to encapsulate your entire exploration into this creative piece. Anyway you fell for it. The journey itself could be as short as an afternoon out exploring, or it can be as long as a few weeks abroad. It really is up to you and what you can manage. We advise that once you return, though, the project shouldn't take you longer than a week to create. You need to keep it and do it while it's still fresh in your mind. Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. A great project will have you feeling various things. It'll have you feeling curious, challenged, frustrated at times, relieved and then enlightened. The key is to explore somewhere you've never been, and create something you've never created. Always exploring in the inside of your creativity. 2. Travel and Creativity: So, you're on a mission to explore as much as you can and sponge what you have around you. You want to immerse yourself in the culture you're visiting. Well, you're also a credit being and you have the urge to create. Let's say you speaking to someone and you're suddenly inspired by these amazing stories they have told you or you had an incredible meal and inspires you to do something similar. I guess the trickiest part is to manage both exploring as well as creating on the go. On our journey, I think we were semi strict with ourselves. We gave ourselves a lot of time to explore, but you also have to remember that you have a mission and we wanted to create. So, we allocated time and we gave ourselves little deadlines. I mean, we're not saying we didn't want to try something new every single day and immerse ourselves in cultures, but we definitely gave ourselves strict deadlines. I remember in Sweden, we used to wake up early in the morning before sunrise and we would explore for a few hours, take as many photographs as we can form and then I guess we brainstorm 30-40 minutes during midday and then we created for few hours off to that, but we made sure we created in a certain time frame. Yes. I think the trick is having that balance. So, the exploration and the creation. So, I mean as people we always work better when we have a set time to finish something. When we have a deadline like Steve mentioned. So, we for example aimed to create for three hours a day and then write a blog post a week and release an Instagram photo a day. So, I guess the trick is decide at the beginning what you want to do and commit to it. Stick to your production line because you don't want to end up going on a creative exploration and then coming back with nothing to show for it. When we originally set out, we didn't exactly know what to expect. We both came from graphic design background. So, I guess for us when we said we were going to do creative experiments, we thought we'd be sitting in front of a computer playing around with typography and different various types of graphic design. But on the contrary, what actually started happening, was we went away from that act, yes the first few weeks we did that, but then we started exploring different mediums. I started writing. I mean for the first time in my life, I started writing properly. We both went into photography and I discovered cooking and making things with my hands really allowed me to express myself, which was really, really cool. I mean, I remember working with wood quite a lot, and if you'd said to me when we left on this journey that I will take this massive chunk of wood and I would carve it into a delicate spoon and I would have laughed at you, but these are the things that you learn along the way and you evolve your passions. So, I think it's very important to keep in mind that you must never be complacent because complacency breeds innovation. I mean, if you're a photographer, write a short story. If you are a musician, go look at graffiti art and try to capture it in a certain way. It's all relative to you. I mean you naturally gravitate to what you're familiar to of course. So, the trick to staying inspired is to get away from what you know. Something we recommend to keep yourself going is to give yourself a little mini briefs whether daily or weekly it doesn't matter, but keep yourself motivated and give yourself things to do. It could be something simple like going outside and trying to find everything that's yellow and then coming back and writing about it or trying to find faces in buildings and in photographing nose, really really simple stuff, but just give yourself something to do. If you're traveling with someone like we were lucky enough to, challenge each other. Sometimes it's hard to challenge yourself and give yourself a brief. So, give the other person a brief. Let the ideas flow and be open to anything and everything. I think the trick to staying creative is to adapt and be organic. Let your curiosity guide you, that'll really surprise you with the things that you'll end up doing in the end. 3. Deciding Where to Go: So, a great way to get out of your comfort zone and doing things you wouldn't normally do is volunteer work. We highly recommend volunteer. We've done a ton of it and there's also hardly any costs involved. I mean, besides the transport to get you there. So, it's a great way to travel on a tight budget if that is something you want to do. You can discuss the length of time that you stay with your host as well. We recommend around five weeks. I mean, we spend five weeks in Norway, four weeks in Italy, and four weeks in Sweden. I think, after five weeks, it almost starts to feel a little too comfortable, it starts to feel like home. So, we think five weeks is a good time for you to get a feel for the culture, you have enough time to explore the country and the surrounds, and build some strong relationships with the people you're staying with. The benefits of volunteer work are that you can completely submerge yourself in a local's way of life. If you're lucky, you get to live with them, you get to share meals with them, you can even learn some new phrases if the language is different, and you can pick up on that culture that you experience and that already is going to inspire you beyond. So, I think you really need to take time to understand how they do things, and what materials they use, what ingredients they cook with, what tools or equipment they use. We live in such a big world that there's so many different cultures that you can sponge from. So, it's really up to you to spend as much as you can. I mean we, for example, became obsessed with woodwork after our time in Norway, something we'd never done before and off to Italy, we suddenly switched to vegetarian cooking because that's what we're exposed to. Very interesting to see what you can pick up. Each place has something different to offer you, whether it's from credit side or just learning new things on a personal basis of talking to people. I think you need to be very open when you approach working with someone because you're living in someone's house, you're working for them. I mean, when we chose volunteer jobs, you have a vague idea of what you're getting yourself into. But be prepared that you can end up doing so much more. I mean, our time at the husky lodge at the top of Norway, we did everything from training the huskies, oversee poop scooping. I mean, we don't want to talk about that too much but then we ended up working with woodluck, we said, and we moved on to kitchen work so, you can sponge and learn as much as you can. Every experience is unique. So, you just need to go there with an open mind and just be open to trying new things. The biggest positive about volunteering, obviously, besides saving money is making connections all around the world, you really make good friends. Yeah. I mean you bond with these people, and it's not something you expect. You don't go in there trying to make friends, but you do, you end up living with them so closely and you form these bonds that actually ends up growing your community and you end up having a massive global community with all these people. So, to find your volunteer work, we recommend using a service called Workaway. You sign up for a two-year membership for a very small fee and you have access to all the hosts all over the world. Once you've signed up, you're able to update your profile and get in touch with other volunteers to also hear about the work and maybe they have some recommendations. You can also contact your hosts and find out what it's going to be like, and when they can host you. You can also read reviews from other volunteers which is really cool because that gives a nice honest approach and opinion on what it's really like. 4. Experiencing the World: So, if we had to narrow it down to the single most important thing, well, at least for us, to regain the creative spark to say, we would say unplugging is it. We went unplugged in the middle of Sweden for an entire month. It it really was the most beneficial and productive month I think we've ever had some, no access to Google, Skype, no contact with friends and family back home. It was just us in the middle of Sweden completely isolated, but we started talking more actual conversations between people, and I think it was funny enough that our back and our neck pain disappeared very quickly because we weren't always on our devices. We had even more time now on our hands and we were like okay, what should we do with it? So, we started exploring the beautiful wilderness that we had around us. I mean we were surrounded by Swedish lakes and beautiful landscapes, it was incredible but the thing about this is that inspiration didn't mean going on Behance, it didn't mean trawling through Vimeo, it meant going outside exploring, it meant speaking to people, even if you didn't really understand what they were saying like you still draw stuff from that. We browsed libraries, we explored museums and moving from really cool museum which we drew a lot of graphic inspiration from. It's going to be tough but it's really really worthwhile. It seems like your mind just gets a whole lot clearer and you become more focused which ultimately leads to better work. So, in between all this exploring and all this craving that you're going to be doing, you need a trap by to unwind. I mean, we're human beings, we can't keep going all the time, so find ways to help yourself relax, whether that's practicing yoga, meditation, whether you like to do a bit of exercise before or after each creation. I mean, depending on your preferences and your location, it's really important to look after your body and your mind during a journey like this. Also don't try for too much into a trip, if you've only got 24 hours in a city, like pinpoint two or three sites that you want to visit or even better don't plan anything, and just go get lost. I mean in some places we felt so overwhelmed because we were just trying to soak everything up and we were trying to create at the same time and just that sheer volume like that ended up becoming a bit of a blur. You kind of get burnt out, you want to keep it manageable, at least. Keep it manageable, so if it is a short trip don't plan anything, go get lost and if you do have a little more time to do a bit of research and then spend some time thinking about maybe two or three places that you do want to go and explore. Without a doubt, the most important resource that influenced us is a guy by the name of Stefan Sagmeister. He is an Austrian graphic designer who works out of New York. He owns his agency with a partner and he essentially speaks about the power of time off. So, what that means to Stefan is that he takes his retirement years and splits them up into his working years, so every seven years he takes a creative sabbatical, his whole agency closes and they travel somewhere foreign and they create for an entire year. It's very important that he has the time to pursue personal and passion projects. You can check out his Ted Talk on YouTube and it's definitely worthwhile. Yeah it's called The Power of Time off. Another guy also a fan of sabbaticals who we look up to is Andy Puddicombe. He left his studies in the UK to become a Buddhist monk. He traveled everywhere from India to Thailand, Russia even Nepal and after his break which was a 10-year sabbatical, he launched Headspace. Now, Headspace is a digital health platform that provides guided meditation training for its users. We've been using it almost daily since the beginning of our journey and there's various packs that you can sign up to. There's a creativity pack and anxiety pack, sleeplessness. I mean we've learned everything about keeping still, keeping present, we've even learned some visualization techniques from him, so we highly highly recommend Headspace. It may seem very obvious but the Skillshare platform that you're watching now is incredibly powerful. We adopted it very early on in our journey and I think the nice thing about it is that you're learning new techniques, stuff that you've never tried before and then you can implement them in your own creative pieces, so if it feels like this is something that you wouldn't be interested in doing or like, hey that's a bit different, is not really my vibe, then we recommend that you do it. Do it. It gets you out of your comfort zone at least in a creative way. So, don't underestimate the power of this platform. So, it's always great to hear about other people's success stories of how they've mastered their passion or how they're created something from nothing, and during our journey we've had a lot of time to read and we found a lot of guys that have these kind of stories, so some books that we would recommend Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Workweek. Really cool way to approach life and see how you should shift your priorities between work and life. That balance is very crucial. Miki Agrawal's Do Cool Shit, she's a really really cool chick and I mean she was diagnosed with lactose intolerance and went on to create a pizza company lactose free and it's really really cool to hear her story of how her business came about. Sophia Amoruso's Girlboss also really cute. A quick easy read to see how she turned a passion project into a multimillion dollar company. So, for some quick ways of beating the creative block, we suggest that you have a look at Alex Cornell's book, it's called Breakthrough. Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination. Each page offers a new way to beat the creative block and it's just a fun way to look at it, so browse through it if you're filling in a right. Yeah, there's a whole bunch of different creatives and they share, each page is dedicated to that creative and the creative shares how they overcome narrow and creative blocks. It's nice to just browse through and pick a page. Have fun. 5. Sharing Your Journey: So, this is going unplugged and getting lost in unfamiliar destinations is crucial. For us, documenting and sharing a journey with fellow creatives around the world is equally important. We strongly believe in collaboration. It's the only way you can really move your ideas forward, regardless of your project or mission. By collaborating with others, you allow your ideas to exponentially grow and evolve. Whether that's sharing your journey on a global scale, or even just for friends, or ones that are close to you, the benefits will go beyond what you expect. Obviously, it's not essential, especially if your journey is short or you want to keep it private, but we found it to be a great method for pushing our own creative projects and ideas, and even pushing our own personal brand. We've collaborated with a number of groups and individuals throughout our tour trip, and it was all made possible because we had this desire to share our discoveries with the world. So, once you've shared your mission and journey and perhaps even your creations on whatever scale or platform, you can slowly start to build a community around you. Whether it's just for fun, or for support, or even potential business ventures in the future, collaborating and communicating with the global community has never been easier or more worthwhile. Social media itself, I'm not going to talk about it because everyone knows, but with mediums such as that, it's really easy to create a community. Makes it easy, yeah. Now, your community can be made up of friends and family, obviously, to start because they're the closest ones to you. You can also slowly start to add people that you've met along the way to this community or people that are on a similar path. People that might be experiencing what you're experiencing, might be very interested to hear what you're doing. It might even be a place for potential future business partners, employers, or even employees. So, once you've shared your mission and journey, and maybe even some of your creations, on whatever scale or platform, you can slowly start to build a community around you. Whether it's just for fun, or for support, or even for potential business ventures in the future, collaborating and communicating with the global community has never been easier, or more worthwhile. I'm not even going to talk about social media, we all know the benefits are there. The community that you are going to build up, it will start with friends and family because those are the ones closest to you. You can also add, slowly, people that you've met along the way, or people that are on a similar path to you. They might be interested in your story and might be going through something similar. So, it's always good to connect with those people. You might even want to add some potential future business partners, or employers, or even employees to your community. Our volunteer jobs that we did connected us with some incredible individuals all over the world. We now call them our friends. These are the people that we'll be collaborating with on some of our side projects. For example, we're writing a dog book with our hosts that we stayed with in Italy. We stayed at a dog training facility and now we're busy editing a book with them. We worked on an event earlier this year with some of them we met passing through Southern Norway. The lesson I think in all of this is that none of these projects would have sparked if we hadn't been open to the idea of collaboration. So, make sure you're making yourself available and you're interested in growing your ideas. So, some of the platforms that we were interested in, or are interested in now, obviously, Instagram, we're both obsessed with it. Before departing, we thought this was a perfect place to find and build a community. There's just so many like-minded people that you can connect with. Obviously, our blog is to share more of our story, as well as our passions for travel, food, photography, and creativity. Facebook pages are more for close friends and families as you know, but also really helps when you are traveling to a new city, and you can also want to stay then ask a friend, "Hey. Do you know someone in that city? Can we stay with them?" Twitter, to join travel associated conversations from all around the world. Snapchat, we dabble in every now and then- We're playing with now. Yeah. It's just to show the real-time travel stories, jokes, and the struggles behind the scenes. Facet is an app that enables us to tell quality video stories and share all of these experiences with like-minded people. Yeah. Facet particularly, we curate some of our best travel experiences and we share them on that platform. So, a great place to influence and to share- Inspiration and to see- Inspiration for travel. To find places and new places to go learn. What we have learned, that was quite a list of platforms that we listed there. But, what we have learned is from the beginning, you almost want to choose one platform and put all your energy into it. Don't spread yourself too thin because you'll end up doing an average job all around. So, pick one platform, do really well with it, put all your energy in it, and then slowly, as you start to see a need, you can grow from there. So, it might seem really hard to grow a community from scratch and we're going to be honest with you, it is hard. That's why we advise that you start with friends and family. Those are the people that are going to want to listen to your story from the get-go. But the key to growing a big network is understanding your niche. You really do need to become a thought leader in whatever your story is, so know what it is. Another important thing is to be consistent. If you guys post, let's say, once every day, then, like we did- Keep it going. You need to keep it going. If you post once a week, then keep that going. It all depends on what your community is used to. If you go quiet, they will move on. So, don't blow your load in like a week and then go three weeks without saying anything. Just make sure you are regular. We used to block book time each and every single day to post content and respond to our community, but make sure it is not more than an hour to an hour and a half. You don't want to be glued to your devices, it sucks the energy out of you and it takes a lot of your time. But, just be patient. So, there are obviously many mediums that you can use to document your journey. We preferred, or our favorite is photography, so we're just going to chat about some tips and tricks that we've learned along the way, especially for travel photography. As you know, it is very diverse, and there are many ways to do it. We found that when you're traveling, you're going to encounter two kinds of photography; city and outdoor photography. The main difference between the two, is obviously in the city, you're going to be plagued with thousands and thousands of people, there are going to be tons of tourists around. There's no way of getting away from this, but there are some tips that you can try to stick to. Get up really, really early, at sunrise, before the crowds get there, or go really, really late at night and explore. You also really need to be patient. I think we got frustrated in the beginning. But you really need to be patient, you can't get away from the people, but sit on the spot and try catch a gap when there are less people, or you could try change lenses, zoom in with a telephoto lens, and crop everyone out. But you really need to embrace it. That you can't get away from it. You can't get away from it. So, another way to do this is just why not take photos of the people interacting with the city. You can capture candid portraits or even stage portraits. But remember to respect people's rights and always ask for permission. You can get in some tricky situations if you're just snapping people. I think the most important thing for me in city photography is that you don't want to take as many photos as you can, the goal is to take as little as possible, but you want quality. You see so many tourists out there just snapping away, taking a thousand photos, and then they never look at them. So, try find quality, and you'll be surprised what you get. With respects to outdoor photography, we're really passionate about that. It's just you and the elements. So, you need to look at weather reports, you needed a lot more planning, behind the scenes, in order to get the shot. Obviously, it's going to be in a more remote space, so you need to get to that spot, and you need to make sure that you're going to be safe out there too. If you have the time, I would suggest that you leave your camera behind and go on a scout the day before. Just go and walk the area, see what shots you could see, visualize the shot, see how long it takes you to get there. If you want to do a sunrise, you need to figure out where the sun's going to rise from. At sunset, where is it going to set. You need to think about the light that you're going to encounter. I think another thing is that when you're shooting outdoor photography in these massive landscapes, you're going to be using a wide angle lens. Sometimes, obviously it's good, because you get everything in the shot, but it also flattens the scene out. If you've got these incredible epic mountains, sometimes it doesn't relate on screen, so you need to show a scale. A good way of doing that is putting someone in the photo. Luckily, I always had Chanel around or me. You could pop me in the photo, but you can use wildlife, you can use a tree, just make sure that you show some sense of scale. So, when's the best time to shoot? I guess it's something we ask ourselves every time we go out for a shoot. The answer is often very different, depending on what you want to shoot. Obviously, in textbook terms, sunrise and sunset is always the best. You get that beautiful, soft, purple light in the early mornings. You get that warm golden glow at sunset. It is where the magic happens, but it's not always possible. So, just have a look, we would say avoid midday because everything will just be overexposed and white, unless that's the look you're going for. Especially in the cities too. Because you get the people. So, keep that in mind. A cool resource,, very useful. They provide all the sun and moon calendars for all the cities of the world. So, this is very handy, especially when you're doing night photography, and you want to see when the moon is at it's smallest so you'd get the vast stars. Or where the milky way is situated. If you want to shoot the milky way. Exactly. It gives you a lot of information. Yeah, it's a very cool resource. 6. Final Thoughts: So we hope you're inspired off to this class and you've got some ideas of way to go, where you want to go explore and what medium to use. Just remember that the more uncomfortable and challenging it is, the better it is, so chase the unfamiliar and you'll get better results. Yeah, so good. Get out there, travel as far as close as you like, allow your mind to think differently and get your creative juices flowing again. We look forward to seeing what you come up with. 7. Perspective: So, as you can imagine, there are thousands and thousands of photographers out there taking shots right now of the things that you want to take shots of. So, it really is important to differentiate yourself when shooting a certain subject that you have in mind. It's a good idea to do some research on what's been done before. This is not so you can copy it, but it's so you can do something different. For example the Eiffel Tower which has been shot millions of times, so people are shooting it right now as you speak. It is really hard to get a different take on it, but I mean there are ways to do it. You just need to wreck your brain. I mean, it's half the shot taken during the day and half the shot taken at night. Do you blur it intentionally, do you add an illustration to it? I mean, there are so many ways. Long exposures, you just need to give yourself a brief and you need to think about what has been done and how you can do something different. So, challenge yourself and push yourself to the limits.