It all started on Instagram. We were looking at photos using #coworking when we found this one:
Immediate crush! We looked at all the pictures of Illustratour account and we LOVED it so much that we decided to follow it. Few minutes after, Illustratour followed us back, which we took as a sign of destiny! We sent a message to Sara, the owner of the account to know if she would be available to meet while we are in London.
Guess what? She was! Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome and love (as much as we do) illustratour, on COWORKIES blog!
Hey Sara, we are SO happy to meet you 🙂 before we start digging into illustratour, can you please tell us more about you?
I am Sara, I am Swedish, I moved to Spain when I was 9 with my family and then I came to London to study and I got stuck here 🙂 I have been here for almost 10 years now.
I work as a Freelance Illustrator. I make imagery for magazines and websites. I work with publishers and I also do illustrations for books. I have been doing that for 4 years now. Being freelancer is actually mostly the only way to be an illustrator as it’s very difficult to find an illustrator job in a company.
How did you come up with the concept of illustratour?
It started out when I discovered Digital Nomads. I found out that people were living and working remotely and I told myself “I could do that” as I don’t need to be somewhere specifically all the time to do my job.
As I have been living in London for 10 years now, I really wanted to go away for a certain amount of time, like 6 months. I also wanted to associate it to a creative and fun personal project. As I was kind of going “on tour” and I am an illustator, Illustatour came to my head 🙂
Plus, I was curious to see how I could mix traveling and working. I was super excited by the idea of checking coworking spaces around the world, that was a big part of my tour, exploring amazing places I can work from.
In the end, I traveled in 6 different cities over 6 months. I worked from coworking spaces and lived in airbnbs in the places I went to. Illustatour was reflecting my daily life out there, working remotely on a daily basis for my clients while traveling.
Which cities did you visited?
I started in Berlin then I flew to Lisbon, Barcelona and Morocco in a place called Taghazout. My last two stops were Hong Kong and Bali.
Which coworking spaces have you been to?
I have been to Agora Collective in Berlin, CoworkLisboa in Lisbon
ApocApocBCN in Barcelona, Sundesk coworking in Taghazout, The Hive in Hong Kong and Hubud in Bali.
How did you choose those spaces?
I started out researching coworking spaces online. I used Nomad List too. I was looking for a combination of things: the look and feel of the place, the community and the price. I was checking what was happening inside the space to make sure it’s was not just a place where people go to work. As I was traveling alone, it was quite important for me to find a place where I can meet people in a friendly and welcoming environment.
Were you able to get the feeling of those communities when you were researching online?
Yeah, I mean sometimes coworking spaces have a calendar of social events, so you can see how active they are. I was also checking their instagram to see if people were having a good time, like breakfast together for instance. I definitely did some spying on the places (laughing). Working alone is tough, so it was important for me to be in a space where there is a community and people are friendly. Otherwise I could just work from home
Where did you get inspiration from?
It took some work and some time as I had to do my own paid work as well. It was coming from what I could see around me. I was taking pictures and trying to find a way to make them look more interesting with an illustration in it. You can change the way you see that photo or the scenario by adding to it. I was trying to tell a story of what I was doing using a bit of humour.
How did you come up with the characters you were presenting in each space?
The idea was to draw a character that I found representative of the space. I haven’t said it so clearly but it actually is like that. It gives you a funny way of seeing the space. It the space more of a serene and relaxed environment or is it super social? I would choose animals that represent them like the chicken or the swan.
The portraits were a way to highlight freelancers I know, to show what do they do. People who don’t freelance see a lot of mystery behind that term.
What was your daily rhythm when you traveled? Did you combined work and sightseeing? Or were you mostly working?
I am a routine freak. The potentially flexible working hours of freelancing are wasted on me. I need to work from 9 to 5 otherwise I am afraid I will stop and go off track. I was working everyday except for when my partner was coming to visit me. Then I allowed myself a bit of holiday.
Otherwise, I really tried to keep my normal life. I was looking for extra activities after work, using meetup.com a lot to meet other illustrators or creatives. I was balancing between taking part in events organized by the coworking spaces and having dinner with my airbnbs hosts. It worked out pretty well.
What did you find difficult while traveling around?
I had mixed feelings about moving so frequently. Although it was always exciting to move on to the next place it also felt like every time I’d settled in it was time to leave. Towards the end I was also a bit over-socialized to be honest (laughing). You have to be super social to meet new friends and people. Doing that 6 times over makes you very open and tired too of starting over again and again. But I noticed that there is a strong community of Digital Nomads and it’s fun to meet the same people along your journey.
Is illustratour a side project, something just for fun? or is it something you would like to do full-time in the long run?
I am actually continuing here in London, I am in Bootstrap now, using this coworking space as my base, but I am checking out coworking spaces here to do my local exploration and illustratour 🙂 I might go for a second “tour” but for a shorter time.
Some final words / recommendations for people who would consider traveling and working?
I would say try to join online community a bit in advance, like Nomad List for instance to try not get isolated. Use a coworking space and live with other people. Because I think you can easily get isolated when you are away from friends and family.
Lot of people are quite flexible when they work and travel which can be tricky sometimes. So if you are doing it for the first time, I would recommend being organized. I came across people who were freaking out not being able to find an airbnb because of a big festival taking place or stuff they could not predict happening. I booked all my airbnbs way before leaving so I never had problems like that. But that might have led me to miss out on some spontaneous adventures. But I guess there is pros and cons in both scenarios.
Thanks Sara for your time! Lovely to meet you 🙂
Oh, by the way, YES we did a Selfie with Sara, check it out and give some extra love!
The COWORKIES tour continue tomorrow!
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