To Draw List
Might Draw List
Interviews are a great way to get to know the person behind the art. While reading an interview is fun, it can be even more interesting to be the interviewer yourself!
This article is all about interviews, including, of course, an interview, thoughts on interviews by fellow deviants, and some interview series you might be interested in following.
who hosts the "Behind the Screens" interview series at Digitalists
Sserenita: My name is Denise Maritato and I am a 31 year old Graphic Designer and Concept Illustrator with almost two decades of experience in the art field. I was born and raised in New York, the daughter of Italian immigrants. I grew up struggling in poverty, but with hard work, determination and the undying support of my wonderful parents, I became the first person in my family to attend college and get a degree. Since then, i have worked for many high profile clients as a product and packaging designer, and as of 2012, I decided to leave Corporate America and started my own design business with my husband.
1. Do you have a favorite interview or interview series?
I love interviews and read them whenever they become available! I love hearing the stories of inspirational people and their personal journeys...it is like taking a breath of fresh air to hear some good news once in a while, especially in this day and age. I enjoy reading the seniority interviews by TheGalleryOfEve as well as her new series "All About..." Which debuted just this week. I also follow Mrs-Durden's interviews with the community volunteers. Our volunteers work very hard for us and it is nice to learn new ways to make their job easier and be more productive members of the community!
2. What motivates you to interview other deviants? What's the best thing about doing interviews?
I have always loved making personal connections and sharing knowledge with the world. I feel like we live in a society where technology has taken over a greater part of our lives and there has been a fundamental breakdown in the way human beings communicate with each other both on and offline. I feel that interviews lift that veil of anonymity that the internet creates and remind us that behind the ambiguous avatars and cryptic screen names, there really is a person under there!
The best part of conducting an interview is when someone shares facts from their personal life that you can not find in any biography. Before I ask questions, I always research the person and read their artist bio (and sometimes even visit their website) to make sure that I am not asking questions that have already been made public knowledge. I feel like if I regurgitate information that can be found by simply clicking a mouse, then I am ripping off my viewers and thus, not doing my job as an interviewer.
I also love it when I find out information about the person when they were a child first learning how to use a pencil, before they achieved artistic fame. This is why I always begin with the question of when the person first discovered their passion for art. Recently I interviewed a very talented artist JRCoffronIII who said he began as a child drawing Garfield over and over. I also started out drawing Garfield on my school notebooks during class, so things like that really resonate with me.
3. Where did you get the idea for your interview series "Behind The Screens" at Digitalists?
As a professional digital artist, I undoubtedly have a passion for that particular community and hope to one day become a community volunteer so I can further assist and educate my peers. Naturally, I was elated when diphylla and Thiefoworld invited me aboard the Digitalists team and gave me free reign to develop some new projects for the group. Being that we are a group that focuses primarily around collecting Daily Deviations and premier digital artwork, I thought that the group could benefit with some activities of a more personal nature. I thought a weekly interview series would be the perfect way to entertain our audience and bring them closer to the artists they admire and always wondered about. It is also a great opportunity for exposure for those who choose to participate.
4. How do you typically go about asking someone if you can interview them? And how do you conduct the interview itself?
The first rule to interviewing someone is to always be professional and polite. When you are dealing with serious artists, it is essential that you always show respect...that also means being understanding when they are late with correspondence or if they decline due to a heavy workload. If you do get a reply, prepare yourself by doing proper research first so that you can ask relevant questions. A person will definitely take you more seriously if you refrain from the typical copy and paste questions. It is permitted to keep some questions the same for consistency, but at least half the questions should be varied, or else every interview will sound the same and your audience will get bored very quickly.
I conduct my interviews by sending the person questions and then taking their responses and fitting them into a special template that I have created especially for the series. I have taken care to design every feature so that the typography, artwork etc. work harmoniously. It is not a simple cut and paste process, however. There is a lot of work that goes into each feature and depending on the amount of editing needed, it can take up to an hour to produce just one.
5. How do you come up with the questions you ask each artist?
Again, this is all a matter of doing the proper research. Try to dig deep...ask them about their life growing up and how they discovered their talent. Ask questions about what inspires them and ask about their personal triumphs and struggles. One question I ask every artist is "Who do YOU watch?" I know we all have the desire to know who the great minds of our community look to for inspiration. Whose work graces their favorites list? It is not only fun to know the answer, but it is also a great honor for those who are chosen!
6. What advice can you give people who want to start with doing interviews?
Aside from what I have already said about doing research, being patient etc...I will also add that you should prepare yourself for receiving responses that may not be what you are expecting! Not everyone is a talker and sometimes you get a one or two sentence response to a question when you were hoping to get one or two paragraphs. Short interviews are not an interesting read, so to prepare yourself, make sure that you are clear in stating what you want even if it means providing links to previous interviews as examples. You can also write notes in parenthesis explaining what you need content-wise, for example I will say: "Please begin by telling us about who you are and what you do. (This section includes your name, where you live, what you do for a living and any other personal information you care to share about yourself.)" You never include the notes in the finished product, of course.
Also, the biggest thing you need to prepare for when dealing with a large international community is the dreaded language barrier! You need to understand that most artists on DA do not speak english as a first language or even a second or third. Be prepared to decipher sentence fragments, incorrect punctuation, misspelled words, etc. This I would say is where the bulk of the work comes into play.
Finally, to those wishing to conduct interviews, i would say send out as many requests as possible at one time! It may take a person one day to respond while taking another person one month. Do not fall behind! If you lose your momentum, you lose your credibility and ultimately your audience!
Thank you Sserenita for taking the time to answer these questions!
1. What do think about interviews on dA in general?
"I think in general they are pretty cool and I enjoy reading them from time to time. There is a huge spectrum in regards to the types of interviews, quality of interviews, and interviewers here on dA, so it can be hard to find ones that really spark your interest. Overall, though, I think they have a lot of potential to benefit readers so they're a worthy feature to have. "
"Even though I personally prefer thumbnail features more, I support the idea of interviews as well!
I think dA interviews have much more potential than the level they currently seem to display. Most interviews I come across seem to have the same kinds of questions: "Tell us a little bit about yourself", "When did you first come in contact with art?", "Do you have any tips for struggling/beginning artists?", "Who/what are your inspirations?" etc. It gets kind of boring to read, especially since the answers usually don't differ that much from one another either >.<
It would be much more interesting if the questions were made specifically for the deviant being interviewed instead of throwing the same questions at everyone. I also feel like there's not much interaction in the majority of interviews I read--it seems like all the questions are given to the artist and they answer them all at once. If there was only one question asked at a time, I think the interviews could become deeper since there would be an opportunity for the interviewer to ask follow-up questions."
- RhynWilliams"Interviews give great feedback on who the Person is behind their work."
2. How often do you read/fav/comment on interviews? Do you have a favourite interview?
"It really depends on who was interviewed as well as who interviewed them."
"I comment a lot in a lot of areas including interviews, If they had time to write it, the best I can do is check them when I have the chance"
"Not very frequently, but it's honestly because I don't see very many posted! I really only see interviews done in groups I follow and rarely do I see an artist interviewing another artist. Generally when I do see an artist interviewing someone? The interview is prefaced with "Today I'm going to interview my biffle [...]" which instantaneously makes me lose interest. I want to read genuine interviews with people that are focused on art, not someone's longstanding internet friendship. So, generally I don't see a lot of interviews I would actually spend the time to read, but if I do? I do take the time to read through and comment to thank the interviewer for setting up such a thing. "
3. Do you have an interview series you follow?
"The only one that has really caught my attention because of the topic and quality has been the "Talks with Tolkien Artists" interview series by MirachRavaia which is featured in some of her JRR Tolkien related groups. I really prefer topic-based interviews as opposed to individual artist ones because I already know regardless of who is being interviewed that I have something fundamentally in common with them right off the bat. Fandom artists typically hit that right on the head and MirachRavaia does a good job of asking a lot of questions I think most other Tolkien fans would ask an artists themselves. Every interview is very comprehensive and addresses the fandom, the artist, their works, and a lot of other things all in one so I really enjoy them every time. "
"Only deviantHEART's Heart to Heart and other interviews that conveniently pops up in my message centre. I never search for interviews myself."
4. Do you do interviews yourself? If yes, what motivates you to interview other deviants?
"I did a few but I am honestly just not all that good at interviewing people so I always felt like my interviews fell a bit flat as a result of my not so great questions."
"No, I currently do not, but I would love to at some stage if I could figure out the right platform to do it on. "
"I don't, but I might have to do in the future for a group event I'm planning It's always interesting to get to know artists better and share a glimpse of the person behind the art to other deviants as well "
5. Is there a certain deviant you'd love to see interviewed?
"There are a lot of people that I would like to see interviews of, if I had to pick one on top of my head, it would be VictorAdameArt"
"Hrm, that's tough. Like Astralseed said, it would really depend on the purpose of the interview and the questions being asked. I have a lot of deviants who I admire and follow closely, but I know their whole story as to how they got into art, why, etc so an interview about all of that would be kind of redundant. If it was about something a bit more specific, like their take on a specific style of art or whatever, I might have more of an idea. "
"Like many said, it depends on the questions. There are some artists who I'd like to know more about in general, and some that I'm only interested in when it comes to their art (gosh, that sounds so mean )"
Interview series to follow:
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hosted by Sserenita
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next month's topic: Art Features