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Art In The Backpack

Geetika Agrawal’s Vacation With An Artist (VAWAA) is an inspirational experience for travellers

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GEETIKA AGRAWAL: curates artists for studio sessions

Austria-based Katja Kramberger is a restless creative soul. Her idea of a perfect retreat is learning a new artistic skill while she takes a short break from her monotonous routine.

She has even flown to some distant locales for a creative rendezvous. This time, she indulged herself in a soap-making studio session with designer Anja Tomazic, in the earthy paradise of Slovenia in central Europe. For the seasoned adventure enthusiast, the leisure trip was among the best she had taken, in which she was able to learn a new skill with her chosen artist.

Both Anja and Katja hit off well and both learned the other’s skills in the right combination. Anja shared her skills in making hand-made salt soaps and Katja showed her how to crochet little soap bags. Katja described her experience as rather ‘unforgettably wonderful’.

Since then, she has been spending more time with her grandmother to perfect her crocheting skills – all thanks to designer Geetika Agrawal, who created Vacation With An Artist (VAWAA). The platform finds artists with whom seasoned travellers may learn a new skill.

“VAWAA helps remind travellers to enjoy the creative journey, experience the unexpected rather than seeing it as a destination. It is a way for travellers to spend their vacations in artists’ studios around the world, learning a new skill,” says Agrawal, a creative director with R/GA New York.

Agrawal, who has experience in design, created VAWAA. She spent a month in 12 different countries, using the time, in part, to find artists with whom travellers may learn a skill through the VAWAA programme.

Agrawal has been personally curating the artists with whom travellers may book studio sessions through the website. Unlike a workshop or course, the idea is to spend time with the artists in their studios to learn the skill, participate in everyday creative process and collaborate on a project, usually lasting anywhere between two days and two weeks. So you can vacation with a photographer in Slovenia, clothing designer in Vietnam, music producer in Uruguay, calligrapher in Japan, tango dancer in Argentina, a cook in Malaysia and a leather shoemaker in Prague, or a bamboo bicycle- maker in India.

“It all started a few years ago. I discovered my love for learning and travel during early architecture college days, when I spent summers working with local artisans in small towns of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu in India. As I travelled around the world, I found it really hard to find such creative opportunities, so I selfishly decided to create them by starting VAWAA. I noticed that there was a growing breed of travellers like me - those looking for experiences vs. things - and those interested in travelling slow vs. checking things of f the list. This platform is for people like us,” she says.

Agrawal has travelled to more than 16 countries in the past one year, since VAWAA was launched. “I love creating human experiences - anything that expands our minds and makes our hearts feel. When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to produce events that combined art, music, architecture and science with talented people,” she tells us.