Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Artist Tip: How to Ace your Next Media Interview!

How to Ace Your Next Interview
By Annie Strack © 2007

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 interview?  Are you fully prepared to talk openly about yourself or your work, and respond to questions quickly and articulately?  Amazingly, a lot of artists aren’t.  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.  Writers 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 depth.  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.  That 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 and experiences.  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.  For 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 the article.  But, the information has to be pertinent to the topic!  He is 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 you.

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! 

  1. List your name, the name of your business, your location, your website, and your full contact information. 
  1. Where are you from, how long have you lived here, and have you lived anywhere else that was interesting?

  1. What are your other occupations or hobbies, besides art?

  1. How long have you been an artist, and how many years as a professional?

  1. Describe your art and it's unique qualities; tell me about your particular style, your preferred subjects, etc.

  1. Describe your artistic process; what media do you use, how do you choose your subjects, etc.

  1. Why do you create art?

  1. What is your favorite part of your process?

  1. What is your educational background, artistic training, and experience?

  1. Can you describe how your creative process has evolved into your current style?

  1. What motivated you to become an artist; was it a teacher, friend, family member, other artist?

  1. What was your first big break?

  1. What is your creative inspiration, your muse, or what artists do you admire?

  1. What message do you hope to convey through your art?

  1. What are your most important artworks, and where are they now?

  1. Have you won any major awards, or have art in important collections, or other major accomplishments?

  1. Where can your art been seen or purchased?

  1. What will be the next big step in your artistic career? 

  1. What advice would you like to give to other aspiring artists? 

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

This article was first published in Art Calendar Magazine, 2007

posted by Annie Strack @ 7:52 PM   4 Comments


At September 11, 2013 at 8:57 PM , Blogger Nanci Hersh said...

Great thoughtful post Annie. I was just interviewed for a newspaper in NJ where my next show will be and she had an interesting question....
What do you want people to get from your show- or be able to take away with them? now that I am writing this I think I should've said - A Piece of my Art!!!

At September 12, 2013 at 8:49 AM , Blogger Annie Strack said...

ha ha! good one, Nanci!

At September 12, 2013 at 8:53 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

It's like doing the artist statement exercise!

At October 10, 2013 at 10:26 AM , Blogger Annie Strack said...

Precisely, Lucy! We practise our art in order to improve it, and practising business and marketing skills improves those, as well!


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All images and content copyright Annie Strack 2020 Although I occasionally receive compensation for some posts, I always give my honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own.