Have you ever wanted to get away and go on an amazing adventure where you get to learn, grow and be stretched all while being submerged in a new culture? Picture yourself learning how to create street art or how to tango all while tasting amazing empanadas, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Or how about brushing up on your photography skills in Spain, or learning the art of Bespoke Shoemaking while exploring Prague. If these day dreams sound awesome to you (which they should) then you need to check out Vacation With An Artist (VAWAA).
Vacation With An Artist was created by the wonderful Geetika Agrawal.VAWAA helps to make your vacation better. In addition to getting to explore a new city or country, VAWAA connects you with local artists, who teach you their trade. How awesome is that?! When I first heard about this, I fanned-girled hard. As if traveling wasn’t cool enough, now you can travel and learn new art skills. Yes, yes, YASSSSS!
Limits are endless with VAWAA. I had the pleasure of having a Skype date with VAWAA’s founder, Geetika Agrawal. Read our conversation below, and check out Vacation With An Artist’s website and create your perfect art filled trip.
Cass: To start off, I want to get to know you. Who are you? Where are you from? What’s your favourite colour, you know, everything?
Geetika: I grew up in India. I did my undergrad in architecture there. And while I was in India, I would travel to a lot of places. Travel is in my blood.I came to the United States 15 years ago to do my masters in industry design. Once I arrived in the US, my travel continued. I arrived in LA. I went from LA to San Francisco to New York. I’ve been in New York for about 8 and half years now, and I worked at a digital agency as the creative director there. So yeah, I’m a designer, traveler, I grew up in India and lived in a bunch of cities.
You sound great! What is your favourite country that you have ever traveled to?
Oh my gosh, that is such a tough question. Can I say two? I would say Iceland. I traveled there quite a few years ago and I was just blown away by the sky. [The sky] changed every few miles and it was magical. The other placed I love is Japan, mostly because it is just so different than everything I have known or seen. So, every moment was an adventure, every day was an adventure. I felt really out of my comfort zone there, and that is why I loved it.
I read on the VAWAA website that you travelled and got to meet locals and be hands-on and create. Do you have one big experience while working with an artist that was completely life changing?
That’s a tough one, primarily because each of the artist that I met were so special, which is the reason why I added them to VAWAA. It’s like being a mother and trying to pick your favourite child. However, there is a writer Duc, in Vietnam. He lives in Hanoi. I spent a couple of days with him, meeting him and understanding his life. He was a refugee from Vietnam who moved to the United States. He worked for some really big publications and he wrote many books.
He moved back to Vietnam because he had a strong love for his country. He is not just a writer, he is a man who is filled with creativity. He owns a bar and an art gallery and is kind of an architect. He takes the local noodle shops and converts them into a place where the young people go and hangout. He also converts parks into areas for music.
He built and designed his own house. That house has been featured in many, many architectural publications. Besides all of that, he is very open and he welcomes people into his home. He has friends coming into his house from all creative fields like musicians, writers and chefs. What I really liked about being around him was that he didn’t box his life into a container. He takes all kinds of creative influences and turns them into amazing creative ideas and projects and he collaborates with people from all different types of places. To create a world around you like that, is just so inspiring, and I see my life the same way. So, in a way, the experience was not just about his writing, it was experiencing his story and how he lives his life in a country that is very different then mine. It was just inspiring. It is something that always stays in the back of my mind.
I wish I had the freedom to live like that.
Take a look at his page on the site and read up on him. He is such an amazing person and very inspiring.
The idea for VAWAA is just genius. How did you come up with this idea?
I have always looked for things like this in my life, and I couldn’t find anything like it. During my architecture school, I would spend the summers working with local craftsmen in India and I always liked it. I remember walking around in Indonesia once and I came a across a silver jewelry designer. I just walked into her studio and started speaking with her and asked her if I could make something. I started making my own silver jewelry, but then I had to leave because it was time to get on a flight and I was quite upset. I was here for ten days and how did I not think about doing this before?
I remember sitting in my office in New York and it was in the middle of winter. I wanted to get away but I didn’t just want to get away and do nothing, I want to do something with my hands. So, I thought okay, I’m going to go to Dominican Republic because it is warmer, but I really don’t just want to sit on the beach. I remember spending hours looking at options and the only thing I was finding was yoga retreats and surfing retreats. I didn’t find anything where I could learn a new creative skill like ceramics or photography. I wanted to be able to do something with my hands and open another side of my creativity. I was struggling to find something, and then I got the opportunity to go on remote year, and I just knew that this is what I wanted to do.
What forms of art are available?
Creativity has no boundaries. Anything and everything under the sun. The only thing I am focused more on is classes that are hands-on. Right now, most of the things are hands on and are about getting out into the world, interacting with our physical space and handing the materials. It can be anything from shoemaking to ceramics, to photography, to dancing, to calligraphy. We are open to adding anything creative. We keep getting request from people for different kinds of platforms. People are asking “Do you have a violin maker? Do you have someone who breeds orchids?” So, why not? There are no boundaries.
Would someone who was interested in doing a workshop need previous experience in that art field?
No, everyone is welcomed. The whole point of these experiences is that it’s an opportunity for you to do something different. So, you can be at entry level, or you can be an artist yourself and collaborate with the artist.
Let’s talk about safety? I am a young female who loves to go on solo trips and a lot of my followers are young females who are interested in doing solo trips. Are there any safety concerns that people should be aware of?
I didn’t even think of this, but it happen more naturally. A lot of our guest who have reached out happen to be young, female, solo travellers. I actually feel that they reach out because they find it very safe. They know that they are going to go and be with someone who has been rated and they are going to be in a safe place. They know there is going to be some kind of structure to it and it’s not going to be open ended. So far, we have felt that the reason that a lot of young females have reached out is because they already find it more structured and safe. I have personally vetted and curated each artist. They are safe.
If you were talking to somebody, and they were interested but hesitated to do a workshop with VAWAA, what would be the number one reason that they should do it?
I would say that I have always believed in investing in yourself. [VAWAA experience] keeps paying, you know? You can buy a shoe and it can be out of fashion the next month, you can eat the food that is trendy and spend eight bucks on whatever, but you will forget about it. But, if you invest in yourself and have an experience, it is going to keep paying for your whole life. The memories you’ve created and the things you’ve learned is going to cause some growth within you will remember later and you will say “Oh yeah, this was this program where I learned this life lesson.” So, I would just say investing in yourself is the biggest reason to do a vacation with an artist.
Is there anything, up and coming with VAWAA that you can tell us about? And where is VAWAA heading in the future?
One of the big things is, it’s not just me, I have three more people working with VAWAA. We are slowly growing, so we can add more destinations and more art forms. We are going to be adding artist from India, Norway, Portugal, and a few other countries very soon. We would love people to reach out to us and tell us where they are planning to travel and what kind of art form they are interested in learning so we can prioritize those. We are also going to look at creating an ambassador program. We will create a special program anyone who wants to help us spread the word and help bring more adventure, humanity and creativity into our world.
Awesome! That’s all of the questions I have for you. Thank you so much for hanging out with me. I love VAWAA and I’m excited to see where it takes off.
Vacation with an Artist is fabulous. Traveling the world while expanding your mind and learning a new art form is truly a unforgettable experience. Check out VAWAA website and their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages and book your vacation with an artist now.