Few things are as inspiring as discovering new places, and few people need constant inspiration as much as artists. That’s the idea behind art and travel concept The Jaunt, which was launched by Jeroen Smeets in 2013 and has already resulted in some great, travel-inspired prints. Smeets is also the man behind art agency Your:Own and Eight Magazine. A keen traveler himself, Smeets decided to start a project that would take artists out of their comfort zones and inspire them, giving them a chance to discover new places and ways of seeing the world—and create some truly exciting art in the process.
All artists who take part in The Jaunt are sent to places they’ve never visited, though they do have some say in where they go. “It has to be a complete new surrounding for them. There are two different scenarios for how we find the final destination with the artist. Either I have an idea about which destination fits with a certain artist, and propose that to the artist. Or I ask the artists what their five favorite destinations in the world are that they haven’t visited yet, their ultimate bucket list if you will. I think without any exceptions, Japan has been on every one of those lists,” Smeets says.
Once they’re back home, the artists create an artwork inspired by the trip. Each artwork is printed in 50 copies, which are sold online beforehand and after to pay for the trip, a concept that has been a success so far. “Our very first trip was actually a sort of private venture, it was only sent out to friends and family, simply because I didn’t know how people would respond to the concept of buying an artwork that wasn’t created yet. The response was overwhelming and our first trip sold out, so we immediately kept going and started working on our second trip,” Smeets says. The Jaunt has sent 13 artists on trips so far, and from those, about half the prints have completely sold out and every other trip has sold 30 to 35 prints at least.
It’s not just the artworks that live on as reminders of the trips, though. Smeets asks all the artists to keep their sketches and photos from the trips for possible future publication, and now most of those have been gathered in “The Jaunt Book,” which launches at London’s Beach Gallery tomorrow, 26 March. “About a year ago, I felt that the time was right to bring it all together, also with our tenth trip coming out at the time. I feel the book is a perfect introduction to our project and the trips we’ve made, but at the same time it gives a lot of new information to people who have been following our project from the start,“ Smeets says. “The book captures the first 10 trips of our project, and follows the creative process of the artists on their trips. We have exclusive interviews with the artists talking about their destination, what they’ve done and how it inspired them.”
The resulting 200-page tome is a fascinating insight into how artists’ works are shaped by their surroundings, whether that’s the snow-covered rocky forests surrounding Helsinki, Finland, the streets of Antwerp, Belgium, or the souks of Marrakech, Morocco. One of the people who got to go on a getaway is British artist David Shillinglaw, who visited beautiful Sjaellands Odde, Denmark. Shillinglaw, who had heard of the project beforehand and felt honored to be asked to take part, thinks he was invited as he already traveled a great deal and often creates work whilst traveling. The artist was offered a choice of where to go: Serbia or Denmark. “I initially chose Serbia, but then I realized the Denmark option would mean I got to meet and stay with the organizer of the project as it coincided with his family vacation, which I felt was too lovely an invitation not to accept,” he says.
Shillinglaw made all the work whilst on the trip, and then used his drawings to create a four-color screen print. “The environment I encountered in Denmark was literally a breath of fresh air, surrounded by nature, the ocean, forests and very little else; the place allowed me to relax and just draw and paint. The trip inspired me to slow down a little and make something new, and away from my usual distractions of other people, nightlife and the Internet.”
Though acknowledging that each artist has their own way of working and that it might not be for everyone, for Shillinglaw, the trip was a success. “I think I was away for five days, which is enough time to get into making new work, but not quite enough time to become lazy. The project was a perfect catalyst for me to make art / think about making new art,” he says. “I also love the fact that the resulting product is a uniform screen print that adds to a catalog of existing prints, creating a timeline and a bigger picture. Each trip stands alone as an example of the artist’s approach and practice, but as a series it becomes an example of how possible it is for all of us to detach from our familiar environment, go create something inspired by a new place and then share it with the world.”
Images courtesy of The Jaunt