Principles of Modern Travel: Scott Biersack

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.

polaroid courtesy of Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

Work-in-progress typeface by Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

Our eighth Principal of Modern Travel is Scott Biersack, a freelance illustrator and type designer from Arizona. He’s been practicing art from a young age, but it wasn’t until his sophomore year in ASU’s Visual Communications program that he became interested in typography. In an effort to hone his skills, he tasked himself with creating one new piece of typographic work every day for a year, and has been drawing letters ever since. Now, he spends much of his time traveling the world, collaborating with One Club for Creativity, LinkedIn, and Adobe, among others. We caught up with Scott to find out what he loves most about traveling, and how he continues to progress his work.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I like to think that I don’t have a particular style, as I use a variety of illustration, lettering, and design approaches. I think the best way to describe my ever-changing work is “colorful, expressive type”.

What do you love most about living in Arizona? What’s your favorite thing about the city’s art scene?

The daily sunshine and warm weather! Having previously lived in Ohio and New York, I know how the humidity and the winter months can be—I don’t miss that. The weather definitely affects me, and constant sunshine lifts my mood.

The art scene here is very welcoming and engaging. In downtown Phoenix, there are murals and galleries everywhere you look. First Fridays are huge here, too; an insane amount of artists showcase their work during the monthly art walk.

Westward Ho building, Phoenix, Arizona

photo courtesy of Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

"Chatting with the people I meet and hearing their stories really puts things into perspective and makes me love what I do even more."

art by Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

Do you travel primarily for work or pleasure?

Most of my travels are work related. Clients will fly me out for an event and have me work on a live art piece in front of attendees. I’ve been to a dentist convention, an eyeball conference (for cataract and refractive surgery), and a neurological conference, to name a few. Chatting with the people I meet and hearing their stories really puts things into perspective and makes me love what I do even more.

What’s the best way to move through a new city?

I walk and bike as much as possible, even if that means it takes an extra 30 minutes to grab a bite or see the sights. It’s the best way to feel grounded where you are, and allows you to go at a decent pace, without rushing things. I haven’t had a car for almost four years; I’ve learned and seen so much more by cycling everywhere.

Principle #1: Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Be intentional in how you get from point A to point B. Walking or biking through a new city can be the best way to feel like a local, and will help you see all the little side streets, shops, and parks that you may otherwise miss if you’re on the road or underground.

Fillmore-inspired poster by Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

"I try my best not to force creativity—I’d rather let it happen naturally."

Snapchat stickers by Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

When visiting a new place, what inspires your art?

For letterforms and illustration specifically, walking around the city and examining the infrastructure—doorknobs, manhole covers, signage, and other little oddities—usually presents some very interesting type or metal work that inspires my future work.

How do you remain creative while traveling?

It’s difficult to balance. Most of the time, I’m so exhausted from traveling that I don’t want to create anything. I think it’s important to take that downtime, sit at a park or coffee shop, and have time to yourself. I try my best not to force creativity—I’d rather let it happen naturally.

If you find you’re in a creative rut, assess some other aspects of your life (your sleep schedule, your eating habits) to find out what it could be stemming from. Self reflection is extremely helpful during these times.

Principle #2: Take a deep breath (and a break).

Travelers move quickly and often fill their days with as many activities as possible, but there’s no need to rush. Save room in your itinerary for a few slow moments, so you can take in your surroundings and let inspiration strike in unlikely places.

New York City

art by Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

"Traveling is a way to get out of your comfort zone, break routine, and tackle fears."

Pigalle, Paris

photo courtesy of Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

What’s your fondest travel memory and why?

I recently lived and worked abroad in Paris while taking a type design course. I was learning alongside people from all over the world: Norway, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Italy, and more. The camaraderie really changed me as a person, and helped me question what I want from life and work. I’m so happy I took the leap to make that trip happen.

Traveling is a way to get out of your comfort zone, break routine, and tackle fears. If it makes me nervous, I know it’s a good thing.

photo courtesy of Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

Zaandam, Netherlands

photo courtesy of Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

What are some other memorable locations you’ve been to?

After school finished, I took a train to explore Amsterdam and The Hague. But aside from my trips abroad, I once took an Amtrak train from Chicago to Seattle. I brought my brother along for the gig; we slept on the train for two nights, shared meals with strangers, and stared out the windows for hours as we passed through Glacier National Park and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

art by Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

What advice do you have for travelers?

Be spontaneous. All kinds of things can go wrong while traveling—losing your luggage, forgetting your passport, the list goes on and on. I’d rather explore a city with no schedule than stress about trying to see a list of destinations. Going with the flow can help you view these typical travel disturbances with a positive mindset.

Principle #3: Let go of your expectations.

Traveling can be unpredictable—but if you don’t make plans, you can’t be disappointed when things go “wrong”. Throwing your expectations and your maps out the window can help you explore a new city, stress free.

Snapchat stickers by Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

"...I remember thinking, “holy shit, I made that!” and feeling immense joy and pride in myself."

ADC Paper Expo invitation by Scott Biersack / @youbringfire

Tell us about your most memorable artistic experience—where were you, what were you creating, what impact did it have on your life and work?

Making a letterpress piece for the Art Directors Club in NYC; I was asked to design an invitation for their annual Paper Expo. Essentially, the client said “do your thing, we trust you”, so I took that as an opportunity to create something in a style I’d never done before. It took many hours to complete, but when I finished, I remember thinking, “holy shit, I made that!” and feeling immense joy and pride in myself. That experience helped prove that I can push the boundaries of my work.

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