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July 09, 2020 4 min read

Artist Spotlight: CatCoq

Meet Cat Coquillette, a world-traveling artist, entrepreneur & educator.

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello! My name is Cat Coquillette and I am a location-independent artist and designer. I travel the world in search of creative inspiration and I run my entire business while hopping from country to country. I began my journey as a traveling artist to do what I love most–discovering new things, people and places and telling stories through art.

How did you get started with art?

I've been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. Throughout school, I packed my electives with art classes. In college, I double-majored in illustration and graphic design. It's hard to pinpoint one exact moment when I realized I wanted to make art my career, but my leap into entrepreneurship was triggered by a desire to set my own schedule, determine my own clients, and supercharge my creative output.

What are some of the main things you’ve learned from your travels?

I believe everyone should experience solo travel at least once in their life, whether it’s to a nearby city or a foreign country. It’s empowering to get out of your comfort zone and embrace a new experience with complete independence. Bonus: when you’re traveling solo, you never have to make any compromises about where to eat, what to see, and things to do. You’ll also meet some fascinating people along the way. Being able to go with the flow makes a huge difference in traveling. Things don’t always go to plan, so easily adapting to new circumstances is key to enjoying yourself. I prefer flexibility in my life and don’t like over-planning, so when I’m heading to a new place, I usually only book an Airbnb for the first couple days. I use that time to get my bearings, talk to people, and figure out what neighborhood is calling my name. I also love learning new skills and embracing things for the first time when I’m traveling. I learned how to cook curry in Thailand and knead gnocchi in Rome. I learned how to craft bamboo and silk lanterns in Vietnam and earned my scuba diving license on Koh Tao. I climbed my first volcano in Costa Rica, ate fried crickets for the first time in Mexico, and learned how to drive a scooter in Chiang Mai. I enjoyed the latter so much that I was inspired to get my motorcycle license when I was in the USA a few months later.

What do you do to help get yourself out of a creative block?

The best cure for creative burnout is to get out of my comfort zone, even if that simply means exploring the other side of the city. It can be refreshing to get lost in your own city and to discover things for the first time. Another remedy for burnout is to head into nature, whether it’s a walk along a nature trail or a day in the mountains.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to try their hand at a modern nomadic lifestyle?

Adaptability isn’t just great for my business, it’s also key for my location-independent lifestyle. My best advice for anyone that’s interested in traveling full-time is to be flexible, open-minded, and curious. Some of my favorite adventures happened after I took a wrong turn or had to change plans at the last minute. You don’t need to have every little detail planned out before you embark on your journey. In fact, when it comes to both traveling and running my business, sometimes it’s better to work things out along the way as I strive towards my larger goals. If you would have told me a few years ago that I would have quit my stable job, left the United States, and spent 24/7 exploring the globe and working on my laptop, I would have had a million questions about how this was even possible. What about all of the minutia it takes to do this, like not speaking the local languages, finding a place to live, and ensuring that I can continue earning enough to support myself? When you consider all of this at once, it can be overwhelming, which often leads to inaction. Instead, I prefer to envision large goals and deal with the small steps it takes to achieve them as they arise.

What's one piece of advice you wish you knew when you were starting out?

Explore various avenues and find what works best for you. One person’s success won’t be the answer for everyone. Once you find your jam and hit your stride, capitalize on that momentum and hustle hard. Embrace the business side of your career. Being creatively talented got me far, but my interest in business got me to where I am now. Andy Warhol said it best, “Business art is the step that comes after Art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist.” I get so amped up over the entrepreneurial side of my career. I’m constantly trying out new tactics and it’s exciting to see what sticks. For every hour that I spend painting, I typically spend another marketing, promoting, corresponding with clients, or doing any number of tasks like adding new content to my site or updating financial spreadsheets and tracking invoices.

IG: @catcoq

IG: @catcoq

What's one of your goals for 2020?

I hope to have a few more online classes launched by the end of the year. I recently published a class that teaches creatives how to identify trends in their field. Next up, I'm working on a class to show illustrators how to use the app Procreate on their iPad to create gorgeous digital illustrations.

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