Illustrator Meagan Morrison is the founder of Travel Write Draw. The Canadian-born, New York City–based artist is known for her creations centered around fashion and travel, like the stunning New York Fashion Week illustrations she crafted for Artful Living back in 2017. And we are in good company in her fan club, among other clients like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair and more. We chatted with her about the importance of art amid the coronavirus outbreak, how she’s staying inspired right now and ways we all can release our inner artist.
Travel is a huge part of the inspiration for your beautiful illustrations. How are you staying inspired while staying at home?
Despite not being able to physically travel right now, I’m still illustrating from all my incredible memories from past trips across the globe. If anything, this forced time at home is making me appreciate the beauty and color of the world and the luxury of travel all the more. During the day, it’s still pretty much business as usual for Travel Write Draw, but in the evenings, I’ve been watching a lot of movies or series that relate to travel to keep the wanderlust in me alive and well.
Be honest: Are you feeling creative these days?
I’m actually feeling more inspired than I have in a really long time. Given that the whole world has been forced to slow down, I’m finally giving myself permission to disconnect from social media and create just for me. Normally I feel a lot of pressure to constantly produce and show what I’m working on. I don’t typically have a lot of time to create freely in between commissions and travels, so this feels like a much welcomed moment to experiment and reflect on what is truly important to me.
You’re based in New York City, a typically bustling metropolis that’s gone quiet. How are you finding beauty in the stillness?
I write this with a heavy heart since I’m not in New York City right now. I was traveling across Chile a week before the pandemic had actually been declared a pandemic and was about to head to Peru when I got the call from my family that Canada was warning of closing its borders. I ended up booking a direct flight that morning from Santiago to Toronto on March 14 and returned straight to Canada to be with my family at home. The trauma of traveling during this escalating global crisis and being displaced from my home in New York City is still very much with me right now, but I’ve been focusing on the positives as much as possible: My family is together, surrounded by nature, and we are all safe and healthy. I’m so grateful every day to be with them.
Why is art so important right now?
At a time when our freedom is increasingly limited, art provides this amazing passageway to escape, dream and fly. The possibilities of what you can paint on paper feel boundless. During my first week of quarantine, I posted a quick painting tutorial on Instagram, which I began by saying, “The great news is art isn’t cancelled” — and I meant it. It is something we can all still do from the comfort and safety of our homes that doesn’t require anything beyond our imagination and our materials to produce. Whether you are personally creating it or observing its creation, art is a bright light in an otherwise dark time and has the ability to really lift our spirits.
Do you consider making art a form of self-care?
I do. It is one of the only ways that I can reach a state of flow: fully immersed, no sense of time, totally fulfilled. It feels like my own form of meditation and an amazing way to connect my head with my heart and spirit.
How can people who might not even consider themselves artists release their inner creativity?
There are so many wonderful artists on Instagram right now offering free tutorials or great platforms like Skillshare with a plethora of beginner watercolor painting classes that are a great introduction to release inner creativity. I would also say to lean into whatever naturally interests you. If you’ve always wanted to try collage or sculpting, look up some fun tutorials on YouTube to kick start your own creative process. Lastly, take the pressure off yourself by not filming or photographing your initial attempts. I feel like documenting things can add an extra layer of stress and pressure for perfection that stands in the way of us trying new things. Leave your phone at the door, sit down at a comfortable spot in your living room and just try!
How do you set the scene for creating art while in quarantine?
Well, I’m currently taking over my family’s dining room table during quarantine since I don’t have a designated desk! But one piece of advice I stand by is having your art supplies out and readily available at all times. For me, the lower the barrier to entry is for creating art, the more inclined I am to sit down and actually paint.
When the coronavirus outbreak has passed, what are three things you most look forward to doing?
This is such a great question! I would say being able to fully hug my friends and family, return to my apartment in New York City, and go out to get a maple latte at my favorite coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, called Gimme! Coffee. Funny, I’m thinking mostly of the little pleasures I’ll get to return to rather than some big grandiose trip across the globe. I guess you could say this time in isolation has really brought into focus what matters to me most of all.