Donna Smith [girlinterruptedbyart]
What do you do? How do you define yourself as an artist?
I am a passionate artist who focuses on drawing pencil portraits from photos, whether it is a school photo or for a special occasion I generally draw up to A4 size even from passport sized photos.
What is your message?
Art is what keeps me sane, it something I love doing and to get the finished piece delivered to a happy recipient and see their joy at the likeness makes me feel good.
Your biography in four lines.
Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
This quote says it all about why I am an artist. I was told I was not very good at school but found something within myself that could not be taught, a passion for capturing likeness and the patience to be the best I can be, continually developing and looking for ways to improve.
Do you upload your work to the web? If so, where could we see it?
You can see my art from when I first started out to where I am now on http://girlinterruptedbyart.deviantart.com/
How is an idea born? For you, what is inspiration?
I sometimes take my challenges from movies and television but when I'm drawing something personal, as a commission I take inspiration from what that piece means to the person and the personality shining through the photo.
What role does technology play in your creative process?
I take the original photo and add effects such as colour and contrast to get the idea I am looking to draw. I then draw it and scan onto my website where I can get feedback on my pieces which encourages me to keep on drawing.
What is art?
Art is an expression of your true self. I feel at my most confident when I am drawing, at one with myself and all troubles I may have seem to disappear. The time can fly by hours at a time and I feel like I've just looked at the page.
When do you get your best ideas?
Usually I will watch something or see something which inspires me to draw like the bone structure in someones face or the light in a particular photo. Often seeing other works of art which blow me away give me hope that one day I will be as good and it encourages me to work on my skill.
How do you evaluate whether an idea is good or not?
You don't know until you try. I will attempt something because it looks perfect and then half an hour in I realise it isn't right for what I do. Trial and error and the ability to learn and move on from it.
Three creative ideas that you would have liked to have created?
I would love to be able to draw in the style of Dali, Escher and Mark Ryden. Very different to my style, so imaginative and surreal.
When and how did you begin to see yourself as an artist?
I always drew as a child. I started off drawing anime and manga and I would spend all my free time hanging about comic stores to pick up tips on how to make my drawings better. I would steal my mum's clothing catalogues and try to copy the stances the people were in. I grew tired of this style and wanted more of a challenge so moved onto drawing pencil portraits I guess because in the beginning it gave me security. It is easier to see if you have 'got art right' if it looks remotely like the picture.
Why do so many artists and creators have such volatile personalities?
Art cannot be measured with a yes or no answer. I have a background in Mathematical Sciences, a subject where you get an answer and you know it's right. Art puts doubt into your mind. You want to be the best you can be, sometimes I'm ashamed to admit better than other people. You want to be recognised for what you put your heart and soul into but art is subjective and looking for praise is never going to be an easy ride. This can make you feel angry and unappreciated and at times ready to give up, wondering why you go to the effort...but then you have to realise as I did that I am doing this for me and I love it so what else matters?
Do you consider yourself postmodern?
I consider myself to be a human photocopier. I'm kidding but no I consider myself to be an amateur artist who draws portraits and makes people happy along the way. That's enough for me.
How should a work of art be evaluated?
If art makes you feel something, you feel a connection to it in someway then art will never die. That's the whole reason it exists. No one can judge, it's too subjective.
Must an artist reinvent him/herself everyday?
I do what I do, it's as simple as that. I'm adaptable and I'll try new things and challenge myself but this kind of art is my thing. I want to be the best I can be and improve on the things I can.
Which artists do you admire and how do they influence your work?
I love as I previously mentioned Dali, Escher and Mark Ryden for the surrealism of their work. I am envious of their ability to come up with new ideas and not just copy. Saying that anyone who can paint an excellent portrait amazes me too as it is something I have always wanted to do but never really had the time to master.
What do you think about public funding for the arts?
Definitely. Involving more people in different types and helping people to realise what hidden talents they may have is always a good thing. Sometimes society is too focused on the academic.
Is art necessary?
Anyway to express yourself and involve others is good for the mental state of society. It brings people together, it's creative and enriches people's everyday lives.
Does it pain you to let go of a piece you have sold?
A little especially if I feel I have made good progress on a piece but I hope that with every one I will improve a little more and these people will have a little bit of me on my journey.
Is a work of art purchased, or is it better said, that it is the artist who is bought?
The piece is purchased and the name of the artist but for many unknown struggling artists out there it is work of art itself which is sold on for whatever value and attraction it has. The hope is that as you become more established and recognised, that your name will be known over and above the name of an individual piece.
In art, there is no guide. How do you know what the next step is?
Where I feel like going and what feel right. I don't have an instruction manual and I don't have a gun to my head. I draw because I want to otherwise there would be no reason to do it. I am just lucky enough that often I get to draw for someone who will appreciate it :)
How do you feel about the fact that the pieces exhibited in contemporary art museums are often of artists already deceased?
If it's art and it's beautiful then there's a reason it's there. Sometimes the general public don't know a lot about painters for example but they do know particular names and these names are what bring them into the galleries, igniting a new generation of art lovers. It's a start ;)
What role have the figures of art dealer, gallery owners, representatives, and intermediaries in general played in your career?
Not a thing. I think there is a market for portrait drawing on a small scale for me as it is a relatively cheap way for someone to own a piece of art which is personal and means something to them but whether it belongs in a gallery? I'm not sure though I'd welcome it.
What types of jobs do you usually do?
I have a degree in Mathematical Sciences and my day job is as a fashion retail manager. I get to be creative in the way I merchandise clothes and put colour options together. The drawing is something I do in my spare time.
Which of your jobs or tasks do you most enjoy?
I enjoy working woth others, teaching skills. Merchandising and coming up with new ideas based on colour and style and I have an eye for detail.
Do you personally collect any items?
Not really but I do love sci-fi and own quite a few dvds...another of my guilty pleasures :)
Which websites do you frequently visit?
Often browse http://www.deviantart.com/ and http://www.etsy.com/
What advice would you give to those just beginning?
Be patient, always believe in yourself and never let anyone put you down. Look at examples that other people are doing in your field and try to pick up tips. Google for tutorials and ask friends and family for honest answers. Find a website where you can display your work and join as many groups/talk to as many people as you can. Network and get feedback.