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Monday Postcard #252 – Travel and Imagination as a Source of Inspiration

Monday Postcard #252 – Travel and Imagination as a Source of Inspiration

Monday Postcard 252 Travel and Imagination as a Source of Inspiration

When global travel came to a standstill in 2020, I underestimated its impact on my life, work and mind. Up until then, I was basically travelling all the time – between Europe and Asia and shorter trips for work or leisure wherever I was based at any given point in time. Like so many of us, I took it for granted. I boarded a plane as if it was a bus. Due to the passport I hold, travelling had always been fairly easy, I could visit most countries without a long visa process. A quick business trip somewhere, meeting friends in another city, flying back to spend some time with family – all of this was completely normal.

2022 was probably the year where we could say travel went back to being fairly “normal” and with Hong Kong reopening for tourists earlier this year, I could finally visit this city I called my home for a while again. It was a relatively short trip, nevertheless, it was some sort of eye-opener. Looking back, it actually feels much longer than it actually was. Probably because I crammed many things into a very short period of time, but also I think after Covid, the stimulation we get from travelling has become much more intense. I tried to take everything in. Previously, I walked by the small stores in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan area every day, without paying much attention. This time, I noticed so many details. The cats who “guard” the Chinese medicine shops are still there. One owner was drying their medicine right on Queen’s Road West. On Ladder Street, passersby could watch a shop owner make Chinese ornaments.

Working as a creative does not always translate into the romanticized version of a work day – where we just create effortlessly. Creativity cannot be forced and there may be long stretches of what I call the “creativity drought”. A few days in a different city, and my mind was filled with new ideas, points of view and inspiration. It reminded me of how important it is to explore and see something new – which does not necessarily mean that we have to fly across the globe. Even exploring our immediate neighbourhood or venturing out on a day-trip is enough. I just need to get away from my laptop, get outside and open my eyes. It is easy to get back into the hamster wheel of our daily lives. Just like I used to pass by the shops in Sheung Wan without paying attention, I may just do the same thing in Vienna. 

There is a reason why authors, artists and designers sought inspiration in foreign countries. Even if they never travelled to the places from which they drew their inspiration; just like in the case of Yves Saint Laurent who never travelled to India, a major source of inspiration for the fashion designer. Like I mentioned in one of my recent articles, Saint Laurent used to say:

“I use my imagination to conjure up countries I don’t know. I hate to travel. For example, if I read a book about the Indies with photos or about Egypt, where I’ve never been, my imagination takes me there. That’s where I take the best trips.“

Reading about other cultures, and nowadays watching movies or documentaries or just seeing pictures – the travelling of our mind – is a really important tool I should use more often. And if I have a chance to go on a trip, I will do it. If I learned one thing during Covid, it is that we do not know what will happen tomorrow. A trip may seem like a “hassle”, it may be tiring, there may not be much sleep. But in the end, if we have the opportunity to travel, we should make use of this privilege.

Have an exciting week ahead!

More Monday Postcards

Monday Postcard #251 – Spotlight on Indian Fashion

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Monday Postcard #247 – Why I Always Trust My Gut Feeling

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