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Five International Artist Residencies for the Creative Solopreneur

Travel and art: if you’re bitten by the travel bug but have multiple work deadlines for upcoming exhibitions, it may feel like the only thing traveling is your artwork. Instead, you might want to consider exploring opportunities for artist residencies and remote work as a means of getting out of your comfort zone while continuing to develop your creative practice.

It can be tough to stay inspired when you’re hard at work in your studio, especially if your creative juices get flowing when you explore the larger world around you and exotic spots farther afield. And let’s face it: sometimes inspiration comes when you least expect it, exploring new corners of the globe!

Take a moment to imagine: What if your studio was on the road? What if every destination on your journey was an artist’s studio in itself, and you were supported in a stimulating new foreign environment where making work comes easily from the new impressions garnered from the world around you? What if inspiration arrived easily every day, influencing exciting new avenues in your artistic practice? How could your process evolve when factoring in island breezes and crisp mountain air through a selection of artist residencies?

Here we explore international artist residencies and remote travel programs designed for creative solopreneurs. These programs allow artists and creative professionals to work and travel while feeling supported. Most offer an environment with the materials and tools necessary to work in a foreign context. You’re sure to be inspired by the opportunities we’ve identified below!

artist residencies
Remote Year offers four to twelve-month programs for remote workers, freelancers and creative solopreneurs.

Remote Year: Ideal for the Creative Solopreneur

Touted as an opportunity for remote workers, freelancers and the creative solopreneur to travel and work simultaneously, Remote Year has a surprising array of opportunities and flexibility for members of the creative class. Photographer Richard Silver, a travel photographer and solopreneur, reflected positively on his time during the Remote Year program, stating how the experience led him to re-contextualize his practice and better reposition himself to appeal to his ideal clients. “I need to travel to keep working,” notes Silver. “This year I learned I am capable of anything I set my mind to.”

Remote Year is that rare opportunity to travel the world fully supported by a team providing remote co-working space while organizing forays into their surrounding environment. Whether the cohort is spending time in Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe, an artist or solopreneur looking for a somewhat controlled international experience would thrive as a Remote Year participant. Programs last from four to twelve months and offer workspaces especially suited to creative professionals who can create using software, or artists who work conceptually or in time-based, performance or new media. Being flexible and keeping an open mind to new experiences is crucial for a positive experience on Remote Year, and as an artist or solopreneur you’ll likely receive ample networking and collaborative opportunities – not to mention the possibility of meeting future clients and collectors.

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Container Artist Residency transports artists across the world by ocean, providing a completely unique residency experience.

Container Artist Residency: Must Love Water

Looking for something completely out of the ordinary and a ton of time at sea to ruminate on your next project and plan new artwork? Check out the Container Artist Residency, a three-year-old project providing artists residencies along commercial travel routes. Transporting artists across the Mediterranean, South China Sea, and other exotic bodies of water, the residency does involve tons of time staring out of portholes (must love water!) but also affords artists an insider’s vantage point of international commerce and life at and between ports of call. The residency results in an exhibition at the culmination of the experience. Especially relevant perhaps for artists with an international or conceptual/research-based practice, this unique residency opportunity has featured some internationally renowned artists such as Tyler Coburn and Samson Young, and is definitely not your regular run-of-the-mill residency opportunity!

artist residencies
Whether it’s in the Grand Canyon or Hawaii, National Parks Foundation Artist Residencies offers a more natural setting and influence.

National Parks Foundation Artist Residencies: Nature Calling

Alluding to the era of the Hudson River School, artists have been inspired by nature since time unknown (the neolithic art-filled caves of Lascaux, France are proof enough that artists have been working in nature for millennia!) Whether you’re an artist whose work lends itself to natural themes or not, the National Parks artist residencies may be exactly what you need to shake up your artistic practice and introduce new influences. While each residency has to be individually applied to, the landscapes serving as home to artists’ studios include vistas as diverse as the crevices of the Grand Canyon to active volcanoes in Hawaii. Some parks even host intensive programs that artists are expected to contribute to, such as leading hikes or guiding tours through the park’s grounds. Standard programs that artists are expected to contribute to include leading art-making and educational activities.

For artists looking to get back to nature and have plenty of space to create and roam for inspiration, a National Parks Department artist residency could be just the opportunity to seek new avenues of creation. Great for any artists or creative professionals, our national parks are natural treasures waiting to explored and transformed into contemporary artistic experiences!

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A program located within a natural hot spring in Japan, FUSION is a program for artists, musicians, designers, and more.

FUSION: To Fulfill Your Anime Dreams

Only a few years old, FUSION is a residency for a solopreneur or creative professional, located within a natural hot springs compound in remote Japan. The program is designed for artists, musicians, designers, and more. The two-week residency offers ample space and materials for residents to create new work, bounce ideas off of one another and be inspired to seek out new creative opportunities across Japan.

Especially suited to interdisciplinary artists or artists working with materials and/or concepts being explored in Japan simultaneously, FUSION guides artists through navigating the complexities of Japanese culture in a safe, comfortable environment while allowing access to nature and Japanese cultural experiences. The residency also allows participating creatives the opportunity to present and display their art on-site in Japan.

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If you’re looking for the opportunity to travel and work throughout eastern Europe, CEC Arts Link may be for you.

CEC Arts Link Funding: For the More Established Artist

If you’re the type of artist looking for a self-directed opportunity to travel and create new work in Central or Eastern Europe, CEC Arts Link may be just what you’ve been seeking. Proposing self-directed residency and exhibition opportunities, CEC Arts Link connects artists and creators to spaces and opportunities abroad in countries such as Ukraine and Bulgaria. The organization offers funding for artists seeking to chart a path ahead in their own practice through proposals across multiple spaces or through carefully selected artist residencies.  The organization seeks to increase links between the U.S. and countries in the specified geographical region, and could be great for research-based artists or those looking to establish international links in more remote countries and areas located off the beaten path. Best of all? CEC itself is over fifty years old, with proven experience forging links between international community members, so any artists can be sure that they will be offered the best opportunities the organization can present.

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With something for everyone, the above international artist residencies allow selected artists to further develop knowledge of the world around them that can affect their work and bring out new aspects of their practice previously unknown. Not for the faint of heart, these artist residencies offer ample opportunity to get out into the world and make your mark as a creative professional or solopreneur abroad!

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About the author

Audra Lambert

Audra Lambert is an independent curator and art critic based in New York, NY. The founder of Antecedent Projects (2014), a sustainable urban curatorial consultancy investigating site-specific heritage, and is Editor-in-Chief, ANTE. Mag. Lambert manages ART360 by Orangenius, an immersive, 3-D art viewing experience, and serves as Managing Editor, Artrepreneur.

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