Several years ago when I wasn’t really sure what direction my life was taking, one of the ideas I kept coming back to was getting a Volkswagen Westfalia van and just driving around the country, allowing the universe to put interesting people and experiences in my path rather than trying to follow a specific plan. I hadn’t started podcasting yet, nor had I picked up my paint brushes again, so the “what I would be doing to actually support myself” aspect of it was pretty nebulous. Still, I loved the idea and for years it was a running joke between my friend Jude and me. Whenever one of us was dealing with some sort of personal or existential challenge, the other would respond with “well, you could always get a Westfalia van and just drive around.”
For Dutch photographer Maarten Rots and his wife Anne, the dream of van life has become a reality. For 6 to 8 months a year, they trade their home in the Netherlands for a Ford Transit camper van and travel throughout Europe, often without a fixed destination. For Maarten, this way of traveling almost by instinct has proven to be the catalyst for some of his most compelling work both as an itinerant solo artist and as a collaborator with other artists he meets along the way.
While I know the reality of it is not always as romantic as the way we see it from a distance, I can’t say I’m not just a little envious. In this conversation, I caught up with Maarten in Portugal where he was preparing a pop-up exhibit of his work, appropriately titled In Transit, at a local gallery.
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