Dylan Angell, a writer and musician from New York City, has participated in several residencies, including one at the Wellstone Center in Soquel, California. He lives with roommates in the city and, in addition to pursuing his art, also works part-time.
“Sometimes people are yelling on the other side of the wall or they are jackhammering on the street,” he says. While Dylan is typically able to be productive even in a loud, urban setting, “having the focus required to work sometimes seems next to impossible.” In Dylan’s experience, residencies have provided a much-needed pocket of quiet to focus on his work as well as a change of scenery that can be reinvigorating.
“It’s just the quiet, the simplicity of the place. Hopefully the weather is nice and there is some nature to walk around in when you need a pause,” he says. “When I am left alone in a place where I can solely commit time to writing, I usually lock in and stay steady.”
The locations of the residencies haven’t just provided the setting for getting work done—they have also informed Dylan’s writing. “I write a lot about my travels, so the experience of going to these places often finds its way back into the actual content of the writing,” he says. Over time, Dylan has found that taking periodic residencies in more remote locations provides the right balance with city living. “Sometimes when I’m in quieter locations, I miss the tension of the city,” he explains. “I personally think I need to jump between both worlds.” Dylan’s next planned residency is in Italy, at Ville Tereze.
Eroyn Franklin, a comics artist and illustrator based in Seattle, Washington, recently completed a residency through the Caldera Arts Center, near Sisters, Oregon. Each artist selected for the program is given their own A-frame cabin in the woods, surrounded by the Cascade Mountains. For Eroyn, the cabin itself became a focal point during her stay; inspired by her experience, Eroyn ultimately produced a graphic novella about a woman falling in love with an A-frame cabin.
Eroyn admits that she came to the residency unsure of how she much she would get out of the experience, especially since she already has a studio space she loves and had even saved some money specifically to take a break to pursue her art. “When I left for Caldera, I thought maybe it was unfair that I was given a residency,” she says. “But at home, I still checked my email every couple of hours and would find ways to distract myself during the day. Cutting myself off from these impulses was vital.”