Featured Artist – Kia Marie Hunt  -Aspire to Amble

I LOVE to travel. This is not a secret! In fact if you keep up with me on social media (and my other blog posts) you’ll see that I pop up here there and everywhere!

I love nothing more than seeking out the art that makes a place unique…

…wherever that may be (and usually writing a few lengthy posts on my return!)

I document places through photography and collecting visual references. I ALWAYS love to hear the ways that other artists capture a sense of place…

Que Kia Marie Hunt– the mastermind behind Aspire to Amble, whose creative art journals will inspire you to add a sketchbook and pen to your next trip pack list!

Kia Marie on location!

What inspires your work and what made you start Creative Art Journaling?

I’ve been creative ever since I can remember (that’s thanks to my lovely, craft-happy mum), so I’ve always had a lot of art projects on the go at once, but most of them used to involve sketchbooks. Then, when I got to university and started to learn more about myself, my passion for travel started to shine through, it seemed only natural to combine it with my enthusiasm for art! I began documenting my adventures via my travel blog, but also creating art inspired by those adventures. And in that way, my habit for keeping sketchbooks slowly transitioned into a Creative Art Journaling habit instead.

My first “official” Creative Travel Journal began when I started my year abroad in South America. I knew it would be the adventure of a lifetime, so I wanted a really expressive, creative, and unique way to record the memories I made.

Can you explain the process of creating your work? The finished pieces look so detailed!

Though my creative process does tend to vary a little each time, I have a few steps that I almost always follow when I’m creating a travel journal piece. I have written quite a detailed article for my blog about how to keep a creative travel journal or art journal, but I’ll give you a summary here too!

It really all starts with collecting – while I’m away on my adventures I’m constantly on the lookout for keepsakes and materials I can use to collage with. I also make sure to keep a long and detailed list of everything I do, every moment I want to remember, and anything that inspires me to make art during the journey. That way, nothing gets missed out.  The process of creating and assembling each spread itself can vary a lot, sometimes my idea of what I want to create is vague and I just make things spontaneously and see how it turns out. Other times I have quite a specific idea of what I’d like to create, but even then it never usually goes to plan!

all images courtesy of Aspire to Amble

What materials do you use?

I mainly use my Spectrum Noir illustrator markers for drawing, combined with fine-liners for adding in lots of small detail. I usually draw so much that my markers will go through to the other page, so I like to make sure I use a lot of different papers and maps to collage the background of each spread, rather than drawing directly into the journal. Then, to embellish the page, I use stickers and a LOT of washi tape (I think I have a real washi tape addiction!) Recently, I’ve been experimenting with water colours and pastels, which has been fun, so hopefully you’ll see more of that to come!

How long have you been creating your Art Journals and how long do you have to spend in a place before you feel you have enough material to begin making one?

It was back in 2015 when I began creating my first travel journal to record my experiences living and studying abroad in South America, so I’ve been doing this for a few years now. Honestly, I see any sized trip as an excuse to create a journal because I just love doing it! Whether it is just a day trip to somewhere nearby or a fully-fledged international adventure where I’m gone for months, I’ll still find a way (and enough material) to make a creative journal because I’m addicted to celebrating my memories in that way.

all images courtesy of Aspire to Amble

Does the time vary to make each piece?

Yes definitely! It usually depends on how much detail I want to go into. Some simple and spontaneous travel journal spreads might take around an hour or two to create. Whereas others might take days, weeks, or even months, as I tend to create a spread and keep revisiting it until I am happy.

Are you able to create ‘on the road’ so to speak, as you travel or do you gather inspiration and create later on, all in one go?

I attempt to sketch or paint at least a little bit each day during a trip. It’s a lovely little ritual for me to create something at the end of an exciting day, even if it is just small and takes a few minutes. That’s all I usually get time to do while actually travelling though, so I just make sure to collect as much material and inspiration as possible while on the move. Then, when I arrive home, I let all of my collections, inspirations, and ideas spill out, combining them with the mini creations I made while away.

I find that creating a bit on the road and a bit at home is the best of both worlds. When creating en route, memories are fresher, then when you arrive home you have the freedom of more time and more art supplies to fill in the rest!

Is there much of a learning curve working in the way you work? You must be a dab hand at it by now!

Yes of course, I think the biggest lesson I have learnt has been to just go with the flow and create without having too much of a rigid idea set for myself. I used to plan how I wanted the page to look a lot more, and of course, it never turned out the way I wanted it too. I used to see it as a bad thing, but now I’ve learnt that enjoying the process is more important, And the unpredictability of the finished spread is what makes it unique and beautiful

all images courtesy of Aspire to Amble

Was there a favourite piece (or pieces) that you worked on? Why?

This is so difficult for me because each piece is attached to such special memories! If I had to choose though, I’d say my top 3 favourite travel journal spreads so far are:

  1. The Church Doors/Tenby spread I created about my trip to South Wales. I love the combination of the cartoonish illustrated buildings along with the textured collage I made to represent the ‘Church Doors’ rock arch.
  2. The Austrian Cuckoo Clock collage spread. I illustrated the detailed cuckoo clock for this page while away in Austria and assembled the rest when I arrived home. I had the idea that I wanted to represent the cosy, homely feeling I got from the country, by using a lot of warm, wood textures and collections of typical objects that I would see in buildings and shops (clocks, hunting plaques, etc.) I’m proud of how it turned out!
  3. The Game of Thrones Tour (Iceland) spread. Somehow, I managed to squeeze every little detail of such a jam-packed day in Iceland onto this double page, and I’m so glad I did! It now captures such a lot of memories about an amazing day visiting Game of Thrones filming locations and exploring the dramatic Icelandic landscape – that’s an adventure I never want to forget!

all images courtesy of Aspire to Amble

You now run a shop through your website, selling your fabulous journals. How did that come about and more importantly: do you make custom pieces?!

I’m always working on new projects and ideas, so once I’d got it in my head that I’d like to try making handmade journals, I just had to give it a go – I never thought they would turn out so well! When they did I realised they would make great gifts for people, and I was enjoying making them so much that I had already created far too many to just use them all by myself. My website was the perfect platform to sell them, because my readers already had the same interests as me – travel and art!

My first batch of handmade journals was themed around my Illustrated Guide to Milan but I’ve since branched out into many new themes. And yes! I absolutely do make custom orders! I’ve made a custom coffee-themed, a horse riding, and I’m even in the process of making a custom Florence & the Machine themed journal! All it takes is for someone to reach out to me with an idea and I can make it!

Since beginning your Creative Art Journaling journey you’ve branched out and now run Aspire to Amble, which is a creative platform. All about your travels, journals, shop and blog/vlogs! Its pretty jam packed. How do you find time to stay on top of it all?

That’s right, at the moment I run the Aspire to Amble blog, shop, YouTube Channel, and social media channels. I also manage my own freelance copy editing and social media management business, and I’m employed part time as a content writer. I definitely have a lot on my plate, which means early mornings, late nights, and a 7-day week, but I do love the work, which makes it feel less like work and more like fun! (I also chug down gallons of lemon and cucumber water every day and I’m sure that’s the secret to my energy levels!)

all images courtesy of Aspire to Amble

As an avid traveller like myself; where have been your favourite places so far and why? What connects you to a place?

You definitely have some very difficult questions for me!

I suppose there are two significant aspects that connect me to a place: nature, and the people I spend time with. My adventures in Brazil, for example, are some of my all-time favourites. I not only got to explore some incredible wonders of nature, like snorkelling in a fresh-water reef and witnessing the incredible Iguassu falls, but I also got to meet some extraordinary people. The Brazilian people are so friendly and wonderful, I’ll always hold that trip close to my heart thanks to them!

Iceland is another favourite. Again, that’s thanks to a combination of experiencing natural spectacles like geysers, ice caves, geothermal pools and lava fields, and spending so much time on the road with my partner Will, which made for so many precious memories.

So where’s next on the hit list?!

Good question! For a while I’d always had my next trip plan in mind, but at the moment I’m really not too sure – I think the next adventure is going to be a very spontaneous one! Since my list of places I’d love to visit is endless, I really could end up going anywhere. I’d love to return to South America and explore more, I’m really keen on visiting the Amazon rainforest. Japan is another dream destination I plan on visiting one day. Some places I’m looking to visit that are perhaps a little easier to get to in the near future include: Norway, Morocco, and Portugal.

What’s in store for the future? 

Recently, my blog has been very travel focused, with most of my artwork limited to my Instagram. At the moment, I’m focusing on creating much more art-related blog content. I also have big plans for my YouTube channel, so you can expect to see more travel vlogs and many more art-related creative videos, as well as the introduction of videos where I practise using my Spanish and Portuguese language skills! I also have some new and exciting creations up my sleeve for the Aspire to Amble shop, coming soon!

all images courtesy of Aspire to Amble

Want to see more?! Visit Kia at Aspire to Amble using the following links:

*edit* Since I wrote this (almost 2 years go! – where does the time go?!) Kia has changed up her channels with a new name and an updated website – coming April 2020! Aspire to Amble has been replaced by Inspiring Journals and is as fabulous as ever! Check out the below (updated) links to see what she’s up to now…



IG – Inspiring Journals

IG – Kia Creates

If you like what you see, leave a COMMENT and FOLLOW OiOi Arts for MORE!

**All images are owned by the artist; Kia Marie Hunt (Aspire to Amble). They have granted permissions for their use in this interview. They retain full copyright.

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