Blogs, magazines, guidebooks. You may often refer to these sources for inspiration and advice, but the truth is, there’s no “correct” way to travel. From departure to arrival, there are countless things to see and do. To discover what you need most from these experiences, question your intentions and evaluate why you’re traveling in the first place: Who are you traveling with? Where are you traveling to? How are you getting from one place to the other? What will you do when you arrive at your destination?
The purpose of this series is to gather insight from the creative and curious who regularly embark on new adventures. We’ve collected their best stories to create a list of principles that can guide you on your journeys—interpret them, learn from them, and use them to define what modern travel means to you.
Meet our seventh Principal of Modern Travel: Nina Klein, a multidisciplinary artist living in L.A.’s Sherman Oaks neighborhood. She’s experimented with everything from abstract paintings and pencil drawings to wire sculptures—techniques she picked up on her many trips abroad—but today her work centers around the human form. Given that Nina often travels for work, we decided to catch up with the artist to get her best tips and tricks for finding inspiration in new places, and staying productive while on paid leave.
What sparked your interest in drawing and painting?
I’ve always been a creative person. I’ve experimented with many forms—I used to dance when I was younger—but I’m naturally inclined to drawing and painting. It’s something I’ve done for so long it feels like second nature, like a meditation; I lose all thought and focus only on the movement of my hands.
"In my opinion, the best design is often the most simple."
How would you describe your artistic style?
I would say it’s “minimal figurative”. In my opinion, the best design is often the most simple. Artists try so hard to include detail in their work, but they don’t realize that complicates things. You can say as much (if not even more) by putting just the right amount on a canvas.
Femininity is depicted throughout most of your work—what first drew you to this theme?
In history, there’s been a lot of work on the female form—but not a lot of it has been created by women. I wanted to be an artist that paints or draws the female form, to be the viewed and the viewer. I think a lot of women are taking back agency of their bodies, and I want to be a part of that movement.
What do you love most about living in California? How does the city inspire your work?
The weather here is really great. I’ve been to Europe and South America, but L.A. weather can’t be beat—there’s so much light and warmth here. And the beach is nearby, which inspires the blue palette in my recent work. I also really love the art scene. There are a lot of different creatives; we all influence each other and inspire each other.
"A few years ago, I moved to Chile for a year to paint...Santiago’s a really creative city, so we went there to totally immerse ourselves in our art."
Do you travel primarily for work or for pleasure?
I travel a bit to New York, if I have a show at Uncommon Beauty Gallery. But I also travel a lot for fun or for vacation.
Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile
photo courtesy of Nina Klein / @ninaklein___
What’s your most fond travel memory?
A few years ago, I moved to Chile for a year to paint. I wanted to, you know, go somewhere outside of L.A. The whole purpose was to make art; to live in a bubble in a new, inspiring environment. My husband is Chilean and I’ve never lived abroad, so we thought it would be fun. Santiago’s a really creative city, so we went there to totally immerse ourselves in our art.
Watching the local street artists in Santiago, Chile.
video courtesy of Nina Klein / @ninaklein___
Artists and other creatives can benefit from breaking free from their usual routines. If you find yourself struggling to define a concept or develop a technique, go somewhere you’ve never been before—experiencing a new place and culture can inspire great work.
Vatican City, Rome, Italy
photo by Caleb Miller
What other places have you traveled to, and how have they influenced your work?
I’ve been to Barcelona, Paris, Rome. I really loved the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Seeing the abstract figures, how Picasso turned them into shapes and made them look less realistic, inspired a bit of my current work.
Sagrada Famíia, Barcelona, Spain
photo by Tom Fejér
What items, if any, do you tend to collect on your journeys?
I love getting something locally made from wherever I go. When I was in Barcelona, I bought a really cute leather bag; when I go to Chile, I love to buy ceramics. And art materials, actually—the last time I was in France I bought some beautiful paper.
How do you stay productive while traveling for work?
I bring my iPad and laptop with me. I can’t really bring a bunch of paint and paper, but I can use the Apple Pencil to sketch or jot down ideas.Principle #2: Find a temporary “office” space.
If you need to be productive while abroad, find an environment (be it a quiet coworking space, a bustling hotel lobby, or a chill coffee shop) where you can focus on your own projects or collaborate with other freelancers and creatives.
What’s the most challenging thing about working in a new place?
Well, sometimes the internet can be spotty—that can be a little frustrating. And not having all of my tools can be a bit of a challenge. If I’m going on a longer trip, I’ll carry some art supplies—a small drawing pad, some paints, some pencils. It all depends on how long I’ll be in a place.
"I try to treat every work trip like a vacation...I don’t just schedule work plans, but also schedule fun activities."
How do you balance work and personal time while traveling?
I try to treat every work trip like a vacation. I like to check out new restaurants or go to exhibits. Or, if I’m going to a city where I have friends or collectors that I want to meet, I try to schedule in time. I don’t just schedule work plans, but also schedule fun activities.
Admiring the contemporary works at the Museum of Modern Art in New York
video courtesy of Nina Klein / @ninaklein___
photo by Fábio Roque / @roque.fabio
It’s easy to get tied up in a project while traveling for work. To make the most of your time abroad, remember to fill your calendar with the fun, personal activities you want to do. This will ensure you’re making the most of every trip.
Traveling presents us with an opportunity to learn about ourselves, our destinations, and our journey to get there. What can we do better? How can we make our experiences more enriching? One way is to learn from each other. That’s why every issue, we’ll be talking with seasoned nomads, collecting their best travel tips and tricks—use these Principles of Modern Travel to guide you, wherever you go next.
Written by: Kaitlyn Funk