Featured Artists – Lite Travelers
Today we are incredibly fortunate to be sharing a little bit about the life and work of our friends the amazingly talented Lite Travelers. Emily Theisen (pronounced Tie-son) and Ian Lundborg (pronounced exactly how it looks) along with their fearlessly friendly feline Arrow and brand new kitty companion Miles are wild about wanderlust, copiously creative and astounding in the art department. We absolutely adore following along in their adventures, seeing where life takes them and could not be happier to be featuring such talented teammates. In addition, they are two of the nicest most down to earth people on the planet. Ladies and gentlemen without further ado...
Can you tell us a little about the story of the Lite Travelers? Where are you guys from and how did you two meet?
Ian and I both grew up near the Twin Cities, Ian grew up in New Brighton, Minnesota and I grew up in Champlin, Minnesota. We both met in Duluth through mutual friends while I (Emily) was attending school at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD).
How did you decide to become van lifers?
It all started when we bought a 1985 Winnebago. We completely tore it apart, renovated it, and took it on multiple camping trips up the North Shore. Our plan was to travel and live in it. We were almost done with the winnebago conversion and then one day the transmission decided to go out on us. It would have cost more to replace it then to just start over, we were bummed! Ian called his family that day sympathizing as to what had happened, as we felt we were destined to travel. We were in complete luck… Ian called his brother (who lives in LA) and his brother explained to us that he was planning to donate his van and get rid of it. His brother had gifted us his van that he had previously traveled in. We were stoked! Two days after finding out about the big news, we quit our jobs, packed our things, bought a one way plane ticket, and were off to LA. We picked the van up from his brother, Corban, drove it back to Minnesota in a week, left our apartment, packed our things, left Duluth, and completely renovated the van in 20 days. Let me remind you we built the van while there were two April snowstorms and was not warmer than 30 degrees. My grandma was kind enough to allow us to use her garage to build in as well as use my grandpa’s wood working shop. We then hit the road and traveled the western half of the U.S. for almost a year.
How did you settle on the name Lite Travelers?
Lite is actually both of our initials put together and also seemed appropriate with the lifestyle we were now living, “Live Lite”. We then put Travelers at the end because that was what we were doing and seemed to flow well with Lite.
You recently traded in your van for a bus... can you tell us a little about the new wheels and how the buildout is going?
We are stoked on the new bus as it gives us more room to live and we are now able to stand! Oh the little things in life…
Bus build is going good, definitely a much larger project than the van as we plan to build it out more properly and more of a “tiny home/mobile studio” this time around. So far we have got the bus seats ripped out, floors and walls insulated, subfloors and subwalls put in, floors finished, walls painted, and the bed frame built out.
(for more on the buildout follow along on the Lite Travelers YouTube channel)
When do you expect it will be wheels up and fully ready to hit the open road? Any big trips on the books yet?
We both have jobs and work full time on the weekends shooting weddings, engagements, and family photos but our goal is to keep grinding away and hopefully hit the road by January! We would love to try and make it to Skooliepalooza 2020 which is a camping and skoolie community building event as well as try and make it to Yosemite’s Firefall 2020.
What places stand out as favorites amongst your travels thus far?
That is by far the hardest question we get. Every spot we have traveled to has been a different experience due to the people that we have met on the road. There were multiple times where we caravanned around the states with other “vanlifers” for weeks at a time. Most of those experiences were in California otherwise we both still have a soft spot for the PNW (Pacific Northwest). We have also made it a tradition to find as many awesome hot springs as we can in every state we travel to which has also been such a fun experience and a good way to “hippy bath”.
When you sold the van earlier this Spring in a bittersweet farewell you teased that you might be giving it all up for good (which obviously was not the case), but it begs the question... how long do you plan on doing the van/bus life thing? Is it a forever plan or a for now type thing?
We are always focused on living in the “now”, it’s just who we are! For all we know we could be doing it for another year or another 5 years, we are open to what life has to throw our way. We have also been dating for 4 years now and settling down someday is a topic that gets brought up for sure. Although “settling down” will most likely still not be our typical idea of how most people do it. We still have the idea of traveling forever and have hopes of doing more out of the country still, but like I said, whatever life throws our way!
What do you miss most when you are away from Minnesota for an extended amount of time? What are the things that draw you back to Minnesota and within the area, what is your favorite place to stop and shoot?
Family and friends! Both Ian and I are family oriented people so leaving sometimes isn’t easy but we are constantly communicating with them on the road. Duluth is by far our favorite town in Minnesota and we love the North Shore for any places to shoot! We also try to get up to Ely and anywhere in the Boundary Waters as well.
Both of you are extremely talented, not just as photographers, but also as artists. What mediums do you prefer to work in? How did photography become such a big part of your life?
You guys are always to kind! We love getting creative in all sorts of ways. Ian and I both draw, using mediums of pencil and Micron pens. I also focus my skills in Graphic Design and love using my Adobe softwares. We are also going to be diving into Silversmithing soon.
Photography has always been a huge part of both our lives and I decided to take further interest in it while attending college and took photography up as my Minor. Not only do both Ian and I have a strong passion for photography but it helps document our travels and way of living.
Would you say you generally plan out shots ahead of time or take them as they come, in the moment?
I’d say it’s a mixture of both. As we travel and are constantly exploring new areas, it tends to be mostly in the moment, but we both carry visions and plan out shots here and there.
In addition to your skills behind the lens, each of you is blessed with some epic editing skills as well. How would you describe your approach to editing?
I started off working heavy in Photoshop but both of us our pretty fluid in using Lightroom now as it is more efficient. I have also created a personal set of Presets that I love using but most my editing comes from using Curves to soften my images.
How do you manage (and how important to you is it) to strike a balance between individual creativity and collaborative expression? As a creative dynamic duo how much do you feel you tend to influence each others work?
We are constantly motivating, pushing, and helping each other with our creative process. We never run into issues or feel competitive with one another. Both our creative minds push each other to become a better team!
Do either of you have a favorite photo you’ve ever taken?
The photo of the three wolves and the alpha male looking straight into my camera. Wolves have always spoken to me and that image carries a powerful meaning to me. We would also have to say the photo we took at Salmon, Idaho hot springs would also be a favorite. The moment was so surreal and we were lucky enough to experience a rare blood moon occurrence as the sun rose over the mountains soaking in the springs.
Who are your heroes? (Photography or otherwise)
Tough question, we have so many people we look up to!
I find a lot of inspiration from:
Charly Savely @charlysavely
Garret King @shortstache
Marisa Hampe @marisa
Asa Steinars @asasteinars
Any bucket shots on your list?
Oh my goodness… haha so many!
I have a list of wildlife shots I would like, but first need to save for the proper lens to be able to capture those moments!
A lot of our other bucklist shots are out of country but dream of going to those spots someday soon.
Now for a quick question from one of our IG followers...
What are the (3) important things you must bring when traveling?
Hmmmm, I’d say the 3 most important things to bring when traveling in our van/bus would be ...
Definitely our cameras 😜
Some sort of heating system cuz nights get cold!
At least an emergency toilet system lol
Proper hiking boots/gear in general
Propane stove and proper cooking items
Fun drawer for nights of boredom/no service/ and guests
Man I feel the list could go on and on !
And this one comes from our previous featured artist Northwoods Murphy who would like to know...
What emotion do you enjoy capturing most?
Anything in the moment or anything that captures extra “mood” / drama in the landscape.
What one question would you ask our next featured artist? (Anything you like)
What does photography/art/design (whatever it is you create) mean to you? And why do you do it?
Time to pay it forward... who else would you like to see featured on this blog?
I’d say my girl Jordan Mileski ;) but saw that she already had a blog post, so in that case we would love to see Zach Beckman be featured! The dude works hard, has a dope style, and deserves more credit and recognition!
For more quality Lite Travelers content be sure to follow each of these two talented artists on any of the following platforms…