In theory, vacations are a chance to escape routine and explore the new. But, in practice, the tourist can have a hard time shifting gears, bringing to a destination not just overstuffed luggage but the manic pace of the place departed. We recently sought the wisdom of Joost Swarte, who kindly shared his tips on the art of travel.
Your cover suggests that constant Internet access has not made vacations any easier. Do you think spontaneity is important in travel?
When I travel, I love seeing the different ways people live. Sure, I collect all sorts of initial information from the Internet. But, once on a trip, I prefer not to be online. A simple mobile phone, just in case of an emergency, is enough. If I need information or if I lose my way, I ask the locals.
Swarte’s initial sketch and a color study for the cover.
How do you choose places for your vacations?
I’ll often go to comics festivals, whether to exhibit work or to give talks. I’ve travelled this way to Oslo, Helsinki, Barcelona, France, Italy, and the U.S.A. An invitation once brought me to Shanghai, where I rented a bike and crossed the city, pedalling through the busy streets. My family and I also often vacation in the South of France. We can easily travel by train to the same little village, where we stay in our friends’ small apartment. We have a trunk there with all we need: bathing suits, towels, etc.
Drawings from Swarte’s vacation sketchbook in the South of France include a portrait of his youngest daughter, Loulou.
Do you stay connected during your vacations?
I set up a small working table with paper, ink, and proper light—and, yes, a laptop. I work about two hours a day. That could be early in the morning, during siesta, or late in the evening. My family decides where it fits in the agenda.
What’s the most exotic place you’ve travelled to?
Once, when I was invited to a comics festival in Buenos Aires, I used the opportunity to travel to Montevideo for a visit to the Museo Torres García. (García was a Spanish-Uruguayan avant-garde artist.) Early in the morning, after we crossed the Río de la Plata, I sat on a bus, riding through the rain. All this to see work by one of my heroes. A trip can’t get much more thrilling.
For more covers celebrating vacation travel, see below:
“April 25, 1931,” by Helen E. Hokinson
“July 15, 1933,” by Garrett Price
“July 13, 1946,” by Ludwig Bemelmans