Post-Script: On Interviewing Artists and Such

An interview I did with Alison Sampson is up on CA today
Alison Sampson Nathan Edmondson Genesis
Since it’s the first interview I’ve ever run, I thought I’d talk about the experience.  Many interviews I read, particularly those with artists,  I find fairly empty, and they’re mostly sort of biographical PR in nature, and beyond influences, they rarely really get into what it is the artist is actually doing on the page, what is the thought process behind different choices–or just conveying a strong sense of point of view in terms of the artist.  With writers this is slightly less of a problem, because for the most part, writers, no matter what they’re being asked, say what they want to say.  But with artists, sometimes not so much.  Art is harder to put into words.  I don’t know.  Neither of those things are probably anything like partially accurate. 

My point is, that a lot of artists interviews, even with artists I am really really interested in, I find pretty boring, and I usually don’t leave with that strong of a sense of things.

Beyond that, obviously one of my big focuses critically is hewing as close to the bone of the actual work as possible.  On some level, I’m not ever overly interested in the artist as final word on a work.  But I am interested in exploring work with them, and sort of trying to understand how they see things.  Mostly for my own purposes to see if anything resonates back in terms of how I do my art, and if I can evolve my own thing.  So maybe my interview style is inherently sort of isolated, or isolating? 

I think one of the interesting things of going through work with an artist—and I don’t think it per se has to be the artist’s own work, is that it is another kind of criticism, another way to find different points of view on a work.  I don’t think for instance that Alison’s take on her own work is any more authoritative than mine or anyone else’s, even though she created it.  But because she created it, it is a different take on the work, and maybe it makes you see the work differently or try different ways of approaching the work, and then evolving your own way of seeing the art?  It is just an aspect of the discussion.  And I dig that.

I also really tried to limit the geography in play for the interview.  Perhaps not entirely successfully, but I’m really interested in zooming further and further into a work, to the infinitesimal.  The micro is the macro after all.

I’d actually like to try some more interviews on my website particularly with colorists, I just have to get over my nerves and laziness.  I was comfortable interviewing Alison because I felt like I had a really strong handle on her work.  But there are other people I don’t have a full grasp on, so I’d have to research more to figure out where to focus.  Maybe not though.  I dunno.  We’ll see.    I feel fairly confident that anyone I would want to interview, I could get, even if it’s just for my website.  It might be a good way to sort of fill in the gaps between the intermittent critical writing I do.

  1. Interviews are an adventure. I find lots and lots of research and assorted prep work in essential. The interviewer needs to always be the guide.

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