2 min read

Why I’m Taking More Creative Retreats in 2023

In 2023, I’d like to take more advantage of creative retreats with the intention of leaving that retreat having finished a product – whether that be a book, an album, an artwork, white paper, company, product, etc.

You often hear of authors traveling to some secluded place to finish their book. I was always inspired by the story of how My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy came to be. Basically, Kanye took a self-imposed exile to Hawaii and flew in all of his collaborators including Mike Dean, RZA, Jay Z, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Pusha T, Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, John Legend, Bon Iver, and Elton John. Antics aside, that creative seclusion led to his greatest piece of art. And it’s something we can learn from.

Traveling with the intention of creating can be very effective. When you’re creating in a new destination that you’re not that familiar with, you’re starting from a base of uncertainty and discomfort. This is the perfect state for growth.

When we are uncomfortable, it's a sign we are starting a growth process. Discomfort is a feeling of the ego trying to keep us stagnate. – Terri Kozlowski

Airbnb doesn’t get enough credit for enabling this luxury of the creative retreat. There’s a big difference between renting a bungalow in Maui and staying at the Hilton. One of these environments gives your headspace more to explore and room for inspiration.

The real play is to do the creative retreat with your team or at least other creative minds that have skills you can collaborate with.

(Also, I'm trying to figure out a better name than "retreat" since it carries some connotations of a work retreat.)

A couple of years ago, I held one in Phoenix for a week. It was me, Cowdrey, Genesis Renji (rapper), and two videographer/photographers I’d worked with a bit. The mission was to create. Show up, have ideas, collaborate, and build things. And it was largely a success, having produced an unreleased album and a lot of promotional material for The NFT Handbook.

Also, the random creative exploration of this trip led to one of my favorite images of myself, where we made a remixed interpretation of a James Terrell piece:

As creators, we demand so much ingenuity to come from doing the same thing day in and day out. It’s not fair to beat ourselves over not getting inspired or fresh ideas when half of our day involves sitting in Zoom meetings.

This summer, I ran a retreat in Honduras and already ran it back again just a couple of months ago. I’m currently out in Japan and have had a few different friends show up at random times to collaborate with me.

I’m starting to get a feel for how to craft these on-the-road environments that bring other creators into the fold. I’ve learned, for example, that it’s best to choose quieter and off-the-beaten-path destinations that aren’t known for a bunch of distractions.

Nonetheless, this is just another reflection from 2022 that I want to lean more on in 2023, as I feel that the creative retreat really impacted our productivity, output, and vision setting. The main alteration to this idea would be to set a production goal that the entire team can unite around (i.e. a curriculum, a business, an app, etc..).