inside the museum

The Art Outside: Finding Artistic Inspiration When Traveling

Life in the pursuit of art, beauty, and aesthetics isn’t confined to the studio or a single place of inspiration. You will find many opportunities to go outside of your comfort zone when you choose a career in the arts. Aside from the typical museums and galleries discussed in academia, here are some suggested pursuits when traveling for artistic inspiration.

Heritage Sites

If you’re visiting areas that have places historically considered momentous and part of the local culture, then that’s where you should search for beauty. There are buildings, natural life, and important sites that have contributed to the legacy of this place. If you can book at a hotel in Door County that’s as close to the churches and historic homes as possible, then choose that option.


Food is an excellent source of inspiration and can be central to your journey as a visual artist. This does not mean taking a picture and a selfie with whatever is on your plate. It means taking a sketch and looking at the way people eat or the way people act around good food and good company. What is the aesthetic appeal of the bar? What about the cafe? Do you see the same colors when going into an Italian as in a Japanese restaurant?

Schools and Universities

A school is a great place to find architecture, still life, and found objects for your inspiring journey. They don’t necessarily have to be art academies to be inspiring, but it would help if you found a school that welcomes traveling artists and tourists looking to practice their visual craft. Send a letter of intent to the office of student affairs and they can either arrange permission for you to travel the school or be guided by one of the staff.

Zoos, Gardens, and Aviaries

a deer in the forest

If animals and the natural world are more your type than humans and landscapes, then you can find the most inspiring subjects here. Choose areas that are supported by animal rights movements, particularly those that seek to genuinely rehabilitate animals and help them regain a better foothold when released in the wild. Avoid places that use animals for entertainment, because you will not find happy subjects there.


If people are what you’re looking for, then you can find the perfect subjects on the road. The sidewalks, subways, and bridges of your city have so many interesting subjects to draw or paint or capture. Look for color, movement, shape, and how much each person stands out. Do be careful when sketching in public places, though, particularly where there are strangers who do not know you are an artist.

Though beauty is oftentimes subjective, there are ways of empirically and rationally identifying what is beautiful and appealing to your personal aesthetics. To travel the country and see what attracts your eye is a pleasure and a very personal way of learning. Go and look at the world outside of your comfort zone. The world is still full of beautiful places if you know where to look.

Scroll to Top