Through her inspirational blog and Instagram, Travel Write Draw, artist and illustrator Meagan Morrison takes her audience on an artful, emotional journey all over the globe. Inspired by destinations that delight with their vivid colors and textures, her stunning imagery celebrates the intersection of travel, fashion, and art. Here Meagan shares her unique travel perspective and favorite places on earth.
Tell us about your background as an artist?
I was always interested in fine arts and fashion growing up. I would spend my evenings and weekends immersed in painting. I grew up in a small town north of Toronto, pre-internet, pre-blogs, and pre-social media, so my exposure to art and fashion careers was extremely limited. After high school, I moved to Montreal to pursue a business degree at McGill University, as I knew inherently that I wanted to run my own business someday. While my experience there expanded my worldview tenfold, I felt artistically deprived by the end of it and was itching to get back to something creative.
How did you transition into fashion magazines?
After my degree, I started working in the fashion industry, as an editorial intern for FASHION Magazine Canada. I came in peddling my high school art portfolio, hoping to find a place where I could combine my love of art, travel, and fashion. But I ended up working in the fashion closet, steaming dresses and requesting clothes for photoshoots. Magazines back then were all about graphics, there was barely an illustration. After sharing my passion for art and painting with co-worker they suggested I look into the Fashion Illustration Associates program at FIT in New York. This was a light bulb moment for me. We didn’t know it then but blogs and social media were about to usher in a new era for traditional artists and change the way we consume content forever.
What inspired Travel Write Draw?
I moved to NYC in August 2009 to study illustration at FIT and one of our professors suggested we start using a blog to share our work. I also knew I wanted to incorporate travel into my illustrations. For me, illustrations set in Morocco or Istanbul created a world in which to escape. After my first year at FIT, I spent the summer in Dubai and that provided the impetus to start Travel Write Draw. Looking out at the Burj Khalifa was like seeing the emerald city emerging out of the desert. The contrast of the opulence, the fashion, history and tradition was just so inspiring. I not only wanted to illustrate what I was seeing but have a conversation around it. So I started my blog Travel Write Draw in September 2010 and it instantly gained traction. I worked in the corporate fashion world after I graduated and when Instagram exploded, I realized it was the perfect great medium to share my work and the process. When I hit 10K followers I left my job to work full time on Travel Write Draw.
You’ve done some amazing creative collaborations?
I do believe “fortune favors the bold” and once I left the corporate world the collaborations for Travel Write Draw started pouring in. Within weeks I was invited to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Moscow, Russia to draw the collections live backstage from the runway. Every day my art from the shows was published on Vogue Russia. When I returned to NYC Conde Nast Traveler reached out to ask me to collaborate on a campaign with Bermuda Tourism called ‘Drawn to Bermuda’. I flew down to the island and was filmed drawing local artisans, food, flavors, and colors. From that point forward, it was a snowball effect of one partnership leading to another, coinciding with the growing popularity of Instagram and the birth of influencer marketing.
Describe your illustration style and its relationship to travel?
My work is known for its vibrancy of colors, expressive brushwork, and dreamy, whimsical quality. I paint with stars in my eyes and the intent of escapism. To me there is no greater joy than getting out in the world, meeting new people, expressing a different perspective on a destination through my art, and sharing it with my community and beyond. It’s my own form of prayer and meditation. Beyond the art itself, I think the hand-painted touch, communicating with my followers, and taking them on an emotional journey through visual storytelling is what drives me.
How do your travels inform your artwork?
When I travel, my aim is to experience as much as I can in real time and later find the parts that resonate with me most. Once I return from the trip, the key elements of inspiration start to rise to the surface. I like to challenge myself to capture a destination in more conceptual ways; to take it a step beyond a literal scene. It could be a garment or a textile that catches my eye like in Jaipur, India, and I’ll find a way to integrate the colors, history, graphic elements of the destination to create a series that is impactful.
Which destinations are you drawn to?
I am always drawn to places that are textural, colorful, rich in history, and local artistry, that push me outside my comfort zone. I love Morocco, India, Mexico City, they are packed to the brim with incredible color and texture. It’s impossible not to be inspired by visiting these countries.
Share the destinations that have left a lasting impression?
Egypt, Israel, Dubai, Japan, and Africa. These five places quite honestly changed the way I see and understand the world and my place in it. The history in Egypt and Israel is utterly mind-blowing. Japan has a degree of harmony amongst its people that is unparalleled to any other country I’ve visited. Also, their devotion to perfecting their respective crafts really spoke to me as an artist. And of course Africa. The endless horizon of the Serengeti and the unbridled way in which the animals roam was just remarkable. The animals only take what they need to eat and leave the rest. Observing nature at its purest, unhindered by people, is hard to shake when you return to a concrete jungle like New York.