ADG Creative Director Joel Anderson Travels to New Orleans!
In February 2023, Anderson Design Group’s founder Joel Anderson and his wife Patty (ADG’s bookkeeper) traveled to New Orleans to visit two pairs of old friends who Joel and Patty met in Nashville in 1986. The three couples were married in ’86, and the friends have stayed in touch and gone on adventures together ever since. This time, the group traveled to New Orleans to celebrate two birthdays.
We got to sit down with Joel to ask him about his takeaways from the trip.
New Orleans Adventure
ADG: Thanks for taking a few minutes to download us on your trip, Joel! So you, your wife Patty, and your friends Robin, Steve, Amy, and Bill have been getting together and going on friends trips since you met in 1986. What made you choose New Orleans this time around?
Joel: Well, we get together a few times each year for anniversaries and birthdays, and this trip was designated to celebrate a 60th birthday for Robin and Steve. They’re from the New Orleans area originally, and they were already there visiting family when Patty and I drove there and when Bill and Amy flew in. Plus, Patty is originally from France, so we thought it would be tres chic to meet up in a city that embodies French heritage.
ADG: Sounds great! What did the itinerary look like?
Joel: We left Nashville early in the morning by car at about 7:00 a.m. We stopped in Laurel, Mississippi, to see the Scotsman General Store, which features a mural designed by Aaron Johnson, one of the stars on the ADG illustration team.
Then we hit the road again and rolled into New Orleans by about 3:30. First, we settled in and bought a three-day street car pass. New Orleans is great because you can use the old historic street cars to see much of the city. It’s a great way to get around.
We saw much of the city: Jackson Square, the iconic St. Louis Cathedral, several museums including an exhibit about Hurricane Katrina. The Mardis Gras Museum was epic! We also ate lunch at he iconic Napoleon restaurant where Napoleon Bonaparte was once offered asylum.
Magazine Street was lots of fun. We also went to Audubon Park, where we stopped for a rest under the oldest live oak tree in New Orleans, thought to be at least 800 years old.
We dined at a restaurant on a lake with a sunset view, did a walking tour of the Garden District, stopped at a diner that’s been there since the 1920s, and had a crawfish boil for lunch! We watched (and listened to) a great deal of live music, from traditional jazz to blues and Zydeco.
We were bummed to leave when we did, but on the fourth day of our trip, we stopped at a French bakery on the way out of town to load up on croissants for the drive back to Nashville. Patty confirmed their French authenticity!
ADG: What a great trip, Joel! How much time do you reckon folks need to get the full New Orleans experience?
Joel: You can get a solid city overview in a few days. You need a full 4-5 days to get a deeper dive. But 2-3 days is enough to get a strong overview.
ADG: What advice do you have for people going to NOLA? Maybe something you know now that you didn’t know before?
Joel: If you can’t stay in different parts of the city during your trip, then GO to different parts. The French Quarter differs from the Garden District, but you should see both. New Orleans is like several different cities all in one. Go with an appetite and an open mind. Do a crawfish boil!
ADG: What stood out to you most from your trip to NOLA? What was most inspiring to you about it?
Joel: Four things were inspiring to me:
1). New Orleans folks preserve their architecture well. There were many houses, mansions, and shotgun houses from the 1800s, and the architecture is distinct.
2). We went two days after Mardis Gras. There were beads everywhere. That festival defines the city. They live for it, and it’s almost like Christmas, and that’s incredible. The celebration goes back two centuries.
3). Good food is easy to find in NOLA. Gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp and crawfish, beignets. It was all so tasty.
4). The music is also really distinct. We heard all kinds of music, including Zydeco and New Orleans jazz. So many clubs played live music, and impromptu jazz groups were everywhere.
ADG: Given that you’ve been to many American cities, what set NOLA apart?
Joel: The residents are committed to preserving their culture and history. In a time when so much of American life has become transient, with folks and families moving across the country often several times in one lifetime, only some cities have succeeded in preserving their roots and nurturing growth while maintaining historical and cultural integrity. New Orleans does this perfectly, and that’s inspiring to see.
ADG: More cities could follow New Orleans’s preservation-minded approach to their culture! Did you get any ideas for new art due to your trip?
Joel: Oh, for sure. I took several reference photos in New Orleans and am considering some new designs. As an artist, I’m always trying to capture the experience others would have and create a souvenir from it in the form of vintage poster art. I’m always looking for the quintessential experience and finding ways to make art. I found several places in New Orleans where those concepts stood out. Stay tuned for more New Orleans art!
ADG: Looking forward to it, Joel!
We Hope You Will Find Inspiration in Your Next Journey Too
No matter the time of year or the region of the U.S. where you call home, there’s almost certainly a National Park or an American city where you can escape for a few days and enjoy the natural beauty or cultural history embodied in that place. We hope you’ll plan a trip to such a place this year so that you can be inspired by the wonder of the world around you.
Winter and spring is the perfect time to start planning, too! If you need a little inspiration to get you started, the 63 Illustrated National Parks, American Travel, and World Travel collections are full of travel-inspired original illustrations and renderings of some of this world’s most iconic destinations.
I hope to see you out there,
Anderson Design Group Staff Writer