Across the globe exists communities of makers, doers and thinkers all connected through their maverick pursuits of creativity. This summer we travelled to the south coast of England where we explored the creative mavericks of Cornwall.
In this special Maverick Streak, we connect with several inspired makers on the shores of these Great British Isles. Meet Calum Creasey, co-founder of The Rolling Home - a celebration of alternative living. Inspired by the notion of freedom and a simplistic lifestyle, Calum shares stories from his own experiences, and those he’s met on the way, of van-life culture. We visited Calum at his studio to talk about The Rolling Home's humble beginnings, new adventures and journeys that await.
Words by Calum Creasey | Photography by James Bowden
Can you tell us a little more about the journey that led you to ‘Stokedeversince’ and your journey with The Rolling Home? Which came first?
About 8 years ago I started a blog called Stokedeversince, it was a place to post the photos from our summer van trips. Mostly 35mm scans and bits and pieces of illustration. After graduating from University, I started working as a freelance photographer & filmmaker. It was a fun few years but wasn’t quite for me. Throughout this time we travelled a ton in a small Nissan campervan, and later the VW T4 van aka The Rolling Home (as used to jokingly call it….) By this time I and my girlfriend Lauren were running Stokedeversince as a small creative studio and living on our friend's farm in a static caravan. We rented an old barn and with some renovations built our little studio space. That summer was a blast, working with clients on bigger shoots and getting all of our friends in the help with the productions. It was a great time and we learnt a lot about the creative industries and what we ultimately wanted to do next.
The Rolling Home came about by chance. We had been using Instagram for a while for our personal photography and client work. Every time we posted a photo of our van trips people seemed to connect with them. Whilst visiting Lauren’s parents in France we made an account for the van and it snowballed from there. We would post old and new images. What I found as a creative was that I had tried for years to make a mark in an industry when all along with the images we shot for fun were the most powerful. People see them and they remember their own good times in vans, or they are so intoxicated by this way of travelling that they jump on eBay and buy their own.
So that Instagram account, and the following that I am still very grateful and humbled by, allowed us to self publish our first book via Kickstarter, run an online store and not have a real job for a good few years. In reality, it has been a mad process, a full circle of sorts. Later I decided to launch The Rolling Home journal as a platform to tell others stories, that is a lovely project to work on.
You work over the last few years has centred around celebrating alternative living, inspired by your adventures in The Rolling Home. What was the turning point for you in realising how important breaking the mould would be to your creativity and well-being?
To be honest, it happened without any master plan. The things that we loved to do for fun; the vans and chasing waves, those times had a real impact on me, I wanted to do anything I could to hold onto those feelings of freedom. I realised that if I was creative, honest and passionate about this area of my life, it could allow me to be flexible, run my own business and live with more time for fun. Granted it has been a struggle at times, as with any small business. But we have always had an escape hatch in the form of the van.
The alternative living side of things is much broader. Alongside campervans, you have interesting ways of living that are as unique and interesting as they are varied. Cabins, treehouses, veg patches, community gardens. Permaculture, tiny homes. Families living in RVs, old busses. They can be trendy but they also represent human ingenuity, community and conscious living. We were not meant to live in identical boxes. People creating and shaping a lifestyle around themselves is extremely inspiring.
What challenges did you face when you first decided to hit the road in The Rolling Home?
Money, being able to save enough of it prior to a long trip. Putting in the work and being super savvy with your spending whilst on the road. We love eating out, but we have to be strict. We ran the business from the road for a while, sending orders from post offices in France. It didn’t last too long, keeping stock in a small van that you are living in can be tricky. Everything else was part of the challenge, the preparation, the excitement, the slight worry of breakdowns in busy European cities on super hot days and frantically trying to find a place to sleep down strange lanes in the dark. But then waking up to the raddest sunrise over the Baltic sea...
For a time I got a bit too caught up in documenting our travels, when the Rolling Home account was at its peak I forgot about why we travelled in a van in the first place. It took a while but I realised that having a camera in hand all the time is the wrong way to live. Let go, see it through your eyes. Keep back some special moments for yourself.
What advice would you give to those thinking of embarking on their own Rolling Home project?
Find a good solid van. If you building the interior yourself, take time to design it around your needs. Don’t take it too seriously. Take tools, learn how to fix your van. If you don’t know something, use the internet; youtube videos or a forum. I think we humans are having the skills to build and create beaten out of us by aspects of Western society. Rediscover the amazing feeling of fixing something. The knowledge and confidence to step out on your own. Become empowered and sure of yourself. Experience has taught me that this is far better for your mental wellbeing than any drug will ever be.What’s next for Stokedeversince?
We recently published our newest book; The Culture of Vanlife. That was a fun project, the first time working with a real publisher. Issue six of the journal is slowly coming together. We also launched a new business; Onwards Adventure Vehicles. We have a workshop in Cornwall and are designing, converting and upgrading campervans and other specialist vehicles. This feels like the culmination of The Rolling Home; building vans for other people to have rad times in.
What is Maverickness to you?
It is an interesting idea. I first think of some lone ranger, an arctic explorer or a rockstar, but then I can see maverickness everywhere. There is a dude who runs a coffee van on the seafront near our flat, it’s a rad old Citroen H van. The coffee is banging. It makes my Sunday mornings. He’s a maverick. I see it in my friends, the artists and illustrators, the carpenters and the photographers. People running their own businesses. Grafting, pursuing what they love and navigating the daunting landscape of self-doubt. I know people who volunteer at soup kitchens and surf every day despite the conditions. My friend Sam built a cabin from scratch. He can feed the cows from his kitchen window. Maverickness has to be the pursuit of a life that fulfils you. Pushing on with an idea despite the hardship, feeling connected to other human beings. Being honest and happy.
And finally, what does travel mean to you?
Coming home from a new place and feeling a yearning to go back. When I return from travelling I get a weird sense that I am missing out. The market in Copenhagen is still bustling, the Pintxos in San Sebastian is out on the countertops or the sea turtles are still swimming around in the waves in Barbados. Travel is seeing the world and filling your head with memories of it all. I’ll walk down a familiar Cornish lane or across a field back in Buckinghamshire and recall the images of far-flung places. With the knowledge that my time here is finite. Through all that I see and do I want to be present, conscious and connected. Travelling demands this of you and leaves you with a feeling of personal growth. It is a very nice feeling indeed.