Art from the Pack

“Art from the Pack” is an overlay of several other physical projects, testing the concept of living off art while on the road.

Started back in 2012, with the first test run focused in the North Carolina/Asheville area, the one month stretch of rucksacking, couchsurfing, camping and street sales immediately impressed upon me the project’s potential. Wanting to both cultivate and intertwine my love of art with a lifestyle of unrestricted travel, I’ve sought to exemplify both aspects in a simple yet uniquely inspiring style which I later came to call; “Art from the Pack”.

My original goal was simple:

“In essence I want to see if it is possible to live simply, out of just a pack, using art as both a means of interpreting the experiences of my travels and a means of perpetuating the journey”

While in Asheville I fine-tuned this traveling style, putting to use my years of exploring the trails, cliffs and rivers of the Northeastern United States. As an avid backpacker and backwoods-woods enthusiast, I worked to keep my varied art supplies, camping gear, repair items, clothing and personals to just what I could carry in my backpack. The initial struggle between packing and traveling with an ultralight mind-frame, and then having enough supplies and gear to last through the month (working from just $40 a week budget), became and remains one of the greatest challenges in balancing Art from the Pack.

“This is one of the biggest challenges any artist faces – being able to launch themselves into a self-sustaining career.  This is my own thrust at re-engineering the structure of how this concept is typically approached.”

Long before, I had learned that there is no easy way to make a career from one’s art. That to live as an artist often means thinking abstractly and often willingly “losing” one’s self to the divergence of the norm.  Yet at the same time, an artist needs to be in tune with the reality about him. Part of what art is, is seeing and naming the day-to-day struggles of trying to live off of one’s work – realizing there is not enough money to pay your rent for the month, the dinner for the night, needing to work the two different part-time jobs just to have the funding and flexibility for one’s creative time.  But at every level that I am able to embrace this reality, this “internal-external turmoil” – I delve a little deeper into the truths of the world about me, unearthing inspirations that I’ve long overlooked.

When I first began to make big trips, I was surprised at how often I was confronted with new unexpected difficulties.  A long history of struggling with an unpredictable illness had led to a fierce aversion to unanticipated change.  The demanding situations of the ever-changing world of rucksacking, from one foreign country to the next, forced me to face these fears head on.  The result was a bridge into a completely new perspective, on both society and my own potential.  A rekindled interest in visual art and a passion to explore more cultures and differing perspectives led me to seek an alternative way of living with art.  By making the conscious choice to cut my possessions and expenses down to the bare minimum needed to survive, I began a journey to live a reality of both art and travel.  The demanding approach to this life style has created what I believe to be a unique translation of first person experiences into several carefully crafted styles of visual work.

“Totems” became the first brain-child of this experiment.  Drawing from an already largely developed style of graphite and ink work, the concept of living out of just a pack required me to re-think my visual work to survive off the limited room and finances that I could sacrifice while on the move.  Wanting to keep the essence of my early backpacking years a strong feature in my work as I traveled, I adopted the idea of using recycled brown paper bags as the primary canvas for my totems.

From street sales, to coffee shops, and on to one-hit-wonder art shows, I’ve continued to emphasize in my work the freedom and intangibility of both the world and of nature as witnessed from a life on the road. Though Art from the Pack is now a fully realized endeavor, it remains very much an evolving project – part art & writing, part travel, part social experiment. Already since its start, I’ve experimented and begun to develop several new styles, reiterations of the demanding changes of our constantly fluctuating world.

Currently Art from the Pack progresses onward, with short intermittent periods of stationed re-evaluation and future project planing. You can check my “Road and Rut” Journal to find out the latest news.

On the rooftops of Buenos Aires

On the rooftops of Buenos Aires

“Remember to let go, and let your feet guide you. To recognize your experiences as your closest teachers in forming your own adaptability”

JHNA

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