How to Ace
Your Next Interview
As professional artists, we all know the importance
of sending out press releases, and most of us are pretty good at maintaining
publicity for our marketing purposes.
But what happens when your publicity efforts result in a request for an
Are you fully prepared to talk
openly about yourself or your work, and respond to questions quickly and
Amazingly, a lot of
Having experienced both
sides of this issue, as both an interviewee and an interviewer, I’d like to
share some useful tips to help artists through the interview process.
Most importantly, you need to respond swiftly when
an interviewer contacts you.
will often initiate contact with several artists when they are researching a
potential topic for an article, and they are likely to only follow up with the
artists who immediately reply to their emails or phone calls.
The interviewer has a deadline to meet, and he
needs to receive your answers to his questions quickly.
A prompt response is also needed when you are
asked to provide photos or images, and any other supporting materials.
Don’t leave the interviewer in hanging in
suspense, waiting to hear back from you.
If you can’t provide what he asked for, tell him immediately.
If you just need more time to get your
thoughts or materials in order, then say so.
The interviewer needs to know if you are going to come through for him,
and if so, when.
Always answer the interview questions in
The writer will want to see as
much detail in your answers as possible, and the more information you provide,
the more he has to work with.
doesn’t mean that everything you provide will be included in the article – the
interviewer will edit your information to include what he considers to the most
interesting or pertinent segments, and then an editor will likely edit that
information even more.
Do not respond to interview questions with pasted
excerpts from your artist statement or bio.
The interviewer has already researched you before he made the decision
to contact you, and he has already read that information.
He wants original information, and does not
want to reprint sentences and paragraphs that have already been published.
If you really need to include information
that’s already in your statement or bio, be sure to rephrase it so that it
presents a new and different view of you or your work.
If you’re going to be interviewed on TV or radio,
make sure both you and the interviewer have discussed your topic before the
tape starts rolling.
To make sure your
necessary information gets in the interview, prepare a list of questions that
you would like to be asked, and discuss these with the interviewer in advance.
And be prepared for an extra question at the
end, in case the time runs long and they need to fill an extra minute or two.
The most popular type of interview is the featured
profile article, in which a specific person is the subject of the article.
This type of article is meant to tell an interesting
story about a specific person, and will often include the subject’s background
You may be interviewed
for this type of article several times over the course of your art career, and
although the questions may be similar each time, you will need to be able to
provide new information each time so that the writer can create a fresh story
that is original.
Another common type of interview involves
providing technical information for an article or story.
In this case, the interviewer’s questions
will be geared towards gathering information about a subject with which you may
have experience or expertise.
instance, a writer may be researching a specific art technique, and may be
interviewing several artists to gather their knowledge of this technique.
Or a columnist who is writing a story about
shipping artwork may want to know the details about your packaging, shipping,
labeling, insurance, billing and costs that are related to shipping.
The more useful information you can provide
the writer about his specific story topic, the better you will be represented
But, the information has to
be pertinent to the topic!
probably not going to be interested in shuffling through your answers if they
contain extensive information that, although may be important to you, is not
pertinent or relevant to the subject that he is writing about.
Interviews can be intimidating, but with the help
of some advance preparations and some understanding of the needs of the media
professionals, you can make the process easier and more rewarding for both of
Let’s play twenty questions! This is a sample list of questions that are
commonly asked during a standard featured artist interview. Write down your own in-depth responses to
these questions, and next time you get asked for an interview you’ll be
prepared with ready answers!
your name, the name of your business, your location, your website, and
your full contact information.
- Where are you from, how
long have you lived here, and have you lived anywhere else that was
- What are your other
occupations or hobbies, besides art?
- How long have you
been an artist, and how many years as a professional?
- Describe your art and
it's unique qualities; tell me about your particular style, your preferred
- Describe your
artistic process; what media do you use, how do you choose your subjects,
- Why do you create
- What is your favorite
part of your process?
- What is your
educational background, artistic training, and experience?
- Can you describe how
your creative process has evolved into your current style?
- What motivated you to
become an artist; was it a teacher, friend, family member, other artist?
- What was your first
- What is your creative
inspiration, your muse, or what artists do you admire?
- What message do you
hope to convey through your art?
- What are your most
important artworks, and where are they now?
- Have you won any
major awards, or have art in important collections, or other major
- Where can your art
been seen or purchased?
- What will be the next
big step in your artistic career?
- What advice would you
like to give to other aspiring artists?
there anything else you’d like to add?
This article was first published in Art Calendar Magazine, 2007