If you’ve ever wanted to pursue a dream of travel and creativeness you’ll love this travel job insight. Aideen Barry is one of three artists taking part in the Changing Tracks project currently on display in Northamptonshire until November. Her work has taken her all over the world. She’s been able to combine her creative streak with her love of travel. In today’s post she shares the highs, the lows and all the juicy stuff like the pay and perks.
Q. Which country (countries) inspire your work the most?
Every country is inspiring in a different way. With Changing Tracks, I’ve been lucky enough to work in three countries; Catalonia, County Mayo and in the UK. But my work has taken me to lots of amazing places – working in China with a translator because no one spoke any English was crazy, but a three month project working in Iceland was absolutely stunning.
Q. What inspires your subject?
The location and geography is key for me – seeing the landscape, meeting the people and hearing the stories is a vital part of the art I create. That is why traveling to different locations is such an important part of what I do. With Changing Tracks, I already had a historical period and a subject (Victorian and railway travel) to give me inspiration.
Q. How do you decide on what to create?
The largest part of what I do is research so by visiting a place and absorbing huge amounts of information on history, people and places, this makes the choice of what to actually create a very difficult process. I have to do a massive amount of editing – I create a ‘Mind Map’ finding patterns, shapes and flows of information in the plethora of data. I like my work to be engaging, funny and accessible to a range of different audiences.
Q. How long does one creation take?
The animation side of the Changing Tracks project, which was three sets of animation, one for each country took a very long time! I was working non-stop on it from late December for eight months – 12 hours a day, 7 days a week – it was over 250,00 images.
Q. What’s your favourite creation and why?
From the Changing Tracks project, the thing I’m most proud of is the book of the installation ‘Strange Terrain’. Which is odd in a multi-media art installation , however as the inspiration of the piece was a book (Lilias Campbell-Davies’ Hints to Lady Travelers) it is somehow fitting.
Q. Your work is showcased in different countries. Is language often a barrier?
The only place where I have needed a permanent translator and guide was China as the language is just so different. I normally try to pick up a few words wherever I am so it was great to try a few words of Catalan for Changing Tracks.
Q. What’s an average day like as a creator?
Well, its long! I combine my career with being a Mum of two so I have to factor the school run and spending the evenings with the children into my day. This often means I go back into the studio at 9pm and work until midnight, then I’m up at 6am next morning to start it all again!
There is a huge admin side to being an artist – like any small business I have to deal with my own finances, invoices and tax. But the structural part of what I do requires risk assessments, working with planning officers and liaison with large amounts of partners. In fact, I would say that three quarters of my time is on admin and only one quarter on the creative side.
Q. How did you get into this field?
I have qualifications in Art & Sculpture, Engineering and Art & Philosophy, all of which has helped me prepare for a career as an artist. I’ve always been creative and involved in various art groups from an early age. I guess I knew I wanted to be an artist from about the age of 16, so I could take all the relevant subjects. I think the one that surprises people is Engineering but you need a good understanding of construction techniques to produce large scale installations – interestingly my fellow artist on Changing Tracks Xevi Bayona is also a qualified architect!
Q. What advice would you give to somebody looking to do something similar?
My tip for getting into art would be to join community art groups and start from there. Being part of an artistic community who can provide support and have knowledge and how and where you can find help is essential. In Northamptonshire try Contemporary Art Northamptonshire (@NNContemporary).
Q. What are the pay/perks like?
Like any small business, you have to expect to have a fluctuating income – it’s either feast or famine. I’m also a university lecturer, which provides some stability to my income and gives me a pension – like an actor being an artist means competing for projects and having a variable income.
But being an artist is amazing – it enables me to travel with my children and they benefit as well. I feel very privileged and wouldn’t change it for the world!
What do you think? Is this something you’d like to do? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. X
There are plenty of other options to make your travel job dream a reality. Every month I share suggestions and insights through interviews with real people – people who are actually travelling the world, or part of it, through their job. Visit the ‘Travel Jobs‘ section of Taylor Hearts Travel to discover more.