Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Emily Robertson

Here's my interview, with illustrator Michael Hsiung:

1.) How do you manage stress? (do you do other things than illustrate for fun)
Managing stress is definitely so important as an artist. I tend to do things not related to art or drawing when I'm really stressed out, but that's after I've freaked out. I try to pinpoint the stress. For instance, if the stress is emanating from a bunch of deadlines, then I try to really organize my priorities. Other times, I turn to friends and peers about stress. I confide in my sister who is a painter for advice. I find that talking about what is stressing me out tends to help me relieve it. Also, I'll try and take a nice walk or even take the entire day off from artwork. Then come back to it fresh in the morning.

2.) What's your favourite website/magazine/book/publications for inspiration?

One of my favorite websites for inspiration is definitely San Francisco based Fecalface.com . I enjoy what they bring content/wise to their website: mini interviews, gallery openings, and videos. I guess it's different from most art sites that I see. I've been following the site for some time, and it's great to see how some of the artists they spotlight grow and develop too. In terms of publications, I really like ANP Quarterly and Beautiful / Decay - not only are they quarterly magazines (more curated content), but they have really in-depth articles that are well written and insightful. I also like that they cover new and upcoming artists as well as the well known. Sometimes I find other art magazines a little repetitive in content and almost a little incestual.

3.) What was your favourite professional assignment?

One of my favorite professional assignments had to have been the Pro Model series of boards I designed for Enjoi Skateboards. Being that I skateboarded most of my life, having designed my own set of boards for people to ride was like a dream. It only ran for one season and I don't think many were made, but I occasionally run into people who come up and tell me they loved the graphics! That's one of most rewarding things.

4.) What do you do when you can't come up with ideas? How do you overcome 'block'?

Drawing and coming up with ideas was a serious battle that I experienced in my sophomore years of being a full time artist and a battle I still have today. It's one of those things that just happens, and it happens for a reason I think. It's like your mind asking you to grow or be stimulated. I generally try to step away from art when I feel like I can't come up with anything. I try and go back to the things that inspire me. Reading, listening to music, watching a movie and/or just going out to have lunch with a friend can be really helpful. Another thing I'll try to do is to create an environment in my studio/apartment that is a drawing environment for me. For instance, playing music or just sketching doodles helps. Sitting on the floor and drawing anything - stupid and goofy things. Oh yeah, another trick I have is to take sketches that never made it to the finished stages and work on them. . . I find that inking things out of my sketchbook or old sketches is very meditative and gets your drawing muscles going. It's like you are just focusing on crosshatching or patterning and not having that conflict of coming up with a new idea. The sketch is there and even if you don't use the drawing . . it's just a good way of getting into the groove without over thinking what you're going to draw.

5.) Whats the best advice you would give an aspiring illustrator/student?

I think the best advice I have for an aspiring illustrator is to have fun making the art. It's gotta start out with enjoying what you're doing and how you're doing it. Otherwise, it'll really take it's toll, and an artist can get burnt out by that. Also, I think that meeting and being a part of an art community is something that is important - making new friends, joining forces, and appreciating all types of art. Also, being patient with yourself! Don't be too hard on yourself when starting out. Have fun, go for it.

6.) How do you advertise yourself/get work/get shows? What works for you?

I think that the online community and presence really helps to get me some work and free advertisement. When I started out drawing, I used to just load some images on stuff like flickr.com, and just having that online work really helped my art get seen by folks from all over. I got to participate in a group show in Italy, which really was because the gallery had seen my stuff somewhere online. Also, there's so many folks who do art blogs or personal blogs, and it's just another avenue for people to see your stuff.

In terms of freelance work, I think that doing work begets more work. Usually someone sees something I've previously done and that leads to them asking me to do something for them. Also, I blog my own projects and update my website as well . . . but nowadays artists really have the ability to use so many cool sites like twitter, tumblr, society6 and etc. that really allow you to develop your own following. It's really cool and exciting. It almost reminds me of a word-of-mouth type of thing. . .!

7.) What is the absolute coolest thing you own? (I can see from your website you own a lot of cool things)

Oh man, sometimes I think we own too many things, but I've always been kind of a collector. I have an extensive unicorn collection, but I've got to say one of my favorite things I own is an old antique whale harpoon. It was something given to me by friends at one of my first two-person shows I had when I really started out. Most of the show featured my drawings of mermen and their nautical adventures, so it sort of was a fitting gift and I had to carry it around the entire opening. haha. Eventually I ended up using it for an installation piece: I had made a wooden cut out dead merman and put the harpoon through him. Anyhow, I guess it just reminds me of the support I got at my first show from my friends. However, all this being said, it's something that I love but also represents something totally sad because it was probably used to kill so many whales.

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artwork © MICA students 2011