I've been meaning to share this story with you all for a while now. It was a really strange experience. And I think there was a lesson in it for me (and maybe others as well). A lesson about people's perceptions and about recognizing a situation for what it is.
Here's the tale: I had an email from a lady who wished to interview me for her blog. I said sure (I always do - being interviewed is fun!) I told her to send along the questions and I'd answer them.
She immediately emailed me and told me she'd be sending the questions one at a time because she develops her questions as we go thru the process. Okay, fair enough - although I'd have to say that that's usually what follow up questions are for.
When answering interview questions via email it's best to have the first set of questions in front of the subject to avoid redundancy. But hey, what do I know right? Anyhow she also stressed to me that she wanted me to VERY THOROUGH with my answers and to dig deep etc etc.
So I sent the first response below. When she wrote me back she, well, she chastised me. She said my answer was too thorough and that I'd jumped ahead, I'd answered her second question with my first answer. She didn't like that.
Okay see I've interviewed people via email. If they answer your follow up question in your first - you adjust your questions - no biggie. Cut and paste! Heard of it? Whatever.
Okay then she said she'd send a new 2nd question in a day or too. Already this was becoming less fun and more of a chore, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She sent the second question and I answered it (see below). When she received the answer to the second question she sent me a very long email about how she could sense I was going thru some sort of trauma in my life right now (I wasn't) and that she wanted to do the interview another time because I "wasn't coming off very well". She said she wanted her readers to like me - she wanted me to have the opportunity to "put my best foot forward".
Ya'll? I'm just me. I'm never "trying" to impress you. I just make art. That's it. Maybe my writing style, to someone who doesn't know me came off stiff - or some people might even find it pretentious. But it is what it is.
I told the lady that I was fine, I was happy to continue the interview and I didn't really know what she was talking about. My answers were HONEST.
She dumped the interview. WOW. I took a look at her blog, and what I saw was that the other interviews she had done had her voice injected all over the interview. It was less an interview and more a conversation between her (she's also an artist) and her subject. There was a lot of mutual flattery. That's cool. I didn't get the memo that this was supposed to be an ego stroking and art chic bonding session for this woman.
I thought she was interviewing me. Instead she was trying to "have a moment". Ya'll, I've got a mortgage, two dogs, a kid, a husband, a career - ya know - all the stuff you do. If there is mandatory bonding involved in an interview process - I really need a heads up. This stuff just flies right by me. Call me thick.
Anyhow if you want to read my pretentious, alienating, grinchy and cringeworthy interview questions....
1) This question was about my background, childhood, schooling and why I create art.
My Mother says that from the moment I could hold a pencil I was drawing. She recalls that as a toddler I drew sheets full of tiny circles and curlicues. So I'm afraid the answer to how I got my start is rather a let down, because I don't recall ever starting. For me art, and specifically drawing, has always been as innate as breathing. Or perhaps a better comparison would be eating. There is similarity in my feelings towards these acts. Sometimes, like an incredible meal at a 5 star restaurant - making art is a sublime event full of nuance and sensory revelations. A moment in time that leaves me full of warmth and contentment and forever a little changed for the experience. But much of the time it's simply something I MUST do every day in order insure my survival. I'm compelled to create the same way I am compelled to fill a nagging tummy with food. I could no more stop creating as I could stifle my instinct to nourish my body. This all sounds rather heavy and gloomy. My intention isn't to sound like a brooding and labored 'artiste' but rather to authentically share how I feel about what I do. I've met many artists who proclaim "I love drawing/painting/writing! It's my favorite thing to do." I wish I could relate. But I can't. I love WHAT I do, I rarely love DOING it. Top on my list of favorite things to do is probably reading a good book, spending time with family or friends, a lovely meal, a good movie; doing just about anything other then making art. I don't associate making art with pleasure or relaxation, therefore it's not my favorite thing to do. Rather, I'm simply driven to create. Often against my will or better judgment. Still, this makes me happy for the most part. I've been blessed with an incredibly supportive family who didn't for one moment have any problem with the idea of me as a professional artist as my career. Indeed the matter was treated as pre-ordained. As a child I had the good fortune of a familial relationship to Pennsylvania artist George Bockius (http://www.schwenkfelder.com/museum/Bockius.htm), who to this very day is the single most influential teacher I'd ever had. As a young adult I went to art school, with no degree to show for it. I'm both traditionally educated & self taught (although I have issues with that proclamation, is anyone ever really self taught?) I've had many jobs in my adult life. It's something of a joke amongst friends all the various things I've done. Every one of them has contributed positively to my ability to eek out a living as a working artist. My background in graphic design and website building as well as small business marketing and consulting have been most valuable; allowing me to do for myself many tasks that other artists have to hire out. My professional career as an artist I suppose started with my first paying jobs, which happened sometime in my teens. I worked as a portrait artist, illustrator, sign & display maker, and graphic designer in one form or another until 2000 when my daughter was born. At that time I started the current incarnation of my career which is a bit of a mish mosh. At present I work in two overall areas with lots of overlap. There is the "personal" art I do, which is whatever I'm compelled to create. Then there is the "commercial" art I do, which is whatever my agent tells me is a "good seller" right now or whatever a manufacturer that I work with asks me to create. But as I said, there is lots of overlap here. Often something I create that is "personal" gets picked up for licensing, or something I do that is "commercial" becomes a series that I grow fond of making and I make more of my own accord. As to the practical aspect of how I got "my start" in the current phase of my career. Well the internet helped a lot. I already knew how to build websites so I built one for my art. Then I put my art on it. In the early days I just had up pictures and a guestbook. This was 1997-2000-ish time frame. People started asking for prints. So I made and sold prints online. Then I started getting requests to do cons and shows, and I was approached by some licensing, and a few publishers. I took those opportunities and began pursuing some on my own. Eventually I signed with my beloved agent Joe Tate and I've forever grateful that he handles all the messy business stuff now. At present my career includes licensing, and professional commissions such as book covers, magazine illustrations, and concept art/design for manufacturers. (I rarely take private commissions.) I also do talks and presentations at cons and events, where I also sell my wares. :) I work in several different styles and several different mediums, partly because I get bored easily and partly because it diversifies the portfolio of my work, which I hope will contribute to a long and successful career. Behind the scenes of all this I continue to do my personal art, which I now compile into themes and collections to give it a bit of cohesiveness. I can't wait to share my next collection of private paintings.
2) This question was about why I have different styles and focuses in my body of work.
For me, the key to being a working artist has been to be versatile not only in my style and subject matter, but also to be open to different opportunities. This means doing different kinds of art for different projects. I define commercial work as just about anything I do with "the market" in mind. I define personal work as the art I do that feeds my soul, the work that comes completely from the heart and from personal motivation. That said, there is a third group where these two motivations and considerations overlap. This third group is often the most satisfying. After all, it's great to paint something that you are in love with, and that ends up being financially lucrative. Subject matter for commercial work is whatever I think (or my agent thinks) might be popular right now, or whatever a manufacturer has asked me to paint. For instance Celtic Knotwork, animals, Goddess Imagery, Angels, Fairies and Vampires are all themes I have painted that have been requested by a manufacturer or solicited by my agent. The mediums I work in with commercial work are really whatever feels appropriate for the piece, the "look" I'm going for and the deadline. For instance, if a piece is due in a week, I probably won't paint it in oils! Subject matter for personal work varies tremendously. I tend to go through phases as do many artists, and my personal work can be best lumped into collections that reflect a time frame in my life. At the moment my personal work is informed by a novel I am writing that features the hidden history of family of artists who live on ancestral land rich with history and enchanting tales. As a result the work I'm painting now is full of symbolism connected to sacred landscape, goddess myth and and all the creative arts.