10 Famous Creative Minds that Worked Remotely

Rumor has it Kanye West is holed up on top of a mountain Wyoming, working on his next album (or perhaps he’s avoiding Kris Jenner).

Getting out of your normal routine—and out of your comfort zone—can have a tremendous effect on creativity. In fact, some of the most innovative and groundbreaking artists, inventors and entrepreneurs of the modern age have slipped away to work remotely.

The result: beautiful, inspiring and one-of-a-kind creative works born in unlikely places. These famous artists can serve as inspiration to us all when it comes to the benefits of a remote work lifestyle.

1. George Harrison in India

While still a member of the Beatles, George Harrison became intrigued with Indian culture and more specifically, Hinduism. In 1966, he ventured to India, where he met Ravi Shankar and asked for sitar lessons. The meeting was the beginning of a long-term collaboration.

In the Martin Scorsese documentary “Living in the Material World,” George’s wife Olivia says that his life was “transformed by India.” The visit influenced his first-ever solo album, “All Things Must Pass.”

2. Ernest Hemingway in Cuba

Storied American author Ernest Hemingway was raised in Illinois but would later live in Paris, Florida, and Cuba. He spent most of his creative life in and around Havana and referenced his two favorite watering in a famous quote: Mi mojito en La Bodeguita mi daiquiri in El Floridita.

3. Dave Chappelle in South Africa

Sometimes you just need to get away to clear your head. Comedian Dave Chappelle famously booked a flight to South Africa in 2005 to escape the public spotlight. The move shocked fans as he walked away from his hit TV show, “Chappelle’s Show” on Comedy Central, at its peak. He would later tell Oprah that he left because he was “incredibly stressed out.”

4. J.K. Rowling on the Commute

It’s said that Rowling came up with the concept for Harry Potter while riding a train.

Photo: Dan Hallman/Invision/AP

5. Emily Dickinson while WFH

Remote work can sometimes mean locking yourself in your house for a few hours to get things done. Take it from Emily Dickinson, the famed American poet who stayed on her family property for twenty years!

6. Jonathan Franzen in Chile

Following the passing of close friend David Foster Wallace in 2011, American novelist Jonathan Franzen (“Purity,” “The Corrections,” and “Freedom”) ventured to a remote island in Chile to mourn, and birdwatch. Following his trip, he penned a beautiful and self-reflective essay for The New Yorker that chronicled his experience in isolation.

7. Vladimir Nabokov in the Southwest U.S.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote his most famous work, “Lolita,” following a series of road trips across the U.S. His journeys took him all over the American West, from New Jersey to the Rocky Mountains.

8. TONS of people at Muscle Shoals

In the 1960s, a tiny studio in Sheffield, Ala. grew to international prominence as artists lined up to get the “Muscle Shoals” sound  on their albums. What began as the birthplace of soul classics like Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” over time expanded to attract the likes of rock musicians like Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones. Songs recorded there include “Brown Sugar” (Rolling Stones), “Slip Away” (Clarence Carter) and “Mustang Sally” (Wilson Pickett).

9. Bruce Springsteen on the Jersey Shore

When Springsteen the East Street Band reunited to record “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” legal troubles exiled the artist from his studio and so the band was forced to rehearse at his Jersey Shore home. Footage from the recording sessions reveal how the close quarters contributed to intense collaboration, resulting in some of the band’s most critically acclaimed work. In all, the band would record 70 songs, which would later be cut down to ten tracks.

10. Nikola Tesla in Colorado Springs

The Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, credited for his pioneering work in electricity, set up an experimental station in Colorado Springs, Colo. in 1899. Holed up in a lab during the day and at local hotel at night, he conducted experiments for nine months with the Rocky Mountain skyline as his backdrop.

Have you done of some of your best work remotely? Let us know in the comments below.

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