Tuesday, January 27, 2015

PBS 39 WLVT Interview: The Spirit of Art w/ Stephanie Smith

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

A short while back, I was asked if I would be interested in being interviewed about my art by WLVT, my local PBS station, It would be a segment for their Emmy award winning show, FOCUS which showcases the people, places and issues of the Greater Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas.

The night before the interview, I had panic attacks. Why? Because as much as I enjoy public speaking, there is something about having someone record your words and then edit them to their personal vision. It's just, scary. You have to trust they have your best interest at heart. Luckily, these folks were all for having me do take after take after take and I am proud of the finished piece.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

In general, television cameras unnerve me. I mean, will you just look at this thing? It's HUGE. It reminded me of the Alien monster and I kept waiting for the thing to open up and for a mini mouth to start screaming at me.

Luckily, I wouldn't be speaking to the camera in this interview. Speaking to the camera is hard. I've done it and no sir, I don't like it.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

This is how close the host, Brittany Garzillo, would be sitting across from me during the interview.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

Seriously. Our knees were almost touching. I only had to look at her (and not the camera) when I was speaking which made the whole experience a whole lot easier. Not to mention, Brittany and her cameraman Jeff were extremely kind during this entire process.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

These are Brittany's notes from the interview. It was interesting to have her ask so many questions and then to see how they would decided to tell my story in the finished segment.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

Since I don't have cable, I had to wait patiently for a week before the segment was available to be viewed online. I was hearing positive feedback from people who'd seen it, but was nervous to finally see it for myself. I think I did ok.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

After the seated interview, I created this piece from start to finish while I was asked additional questions.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

Jeff shooting cutaways and insert footage.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

It was a lot easier for me to talk while I was working on this piece.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

After working on the demo piece, they wanted to film me painting.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

The camera lens was so close to me at times that I could feel the cameraman's body heat. I know for sure that I ruined a few takes because I kept bursting out laughing over this. It was like, "Don't look at the camera... don't look at the camera..." You know how the optometrist does that thing where they bring that little thing where it's almost touching your eyeball? It was like that.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

I am really painting here - it's not just for show. Thankful that Brittany used my phone to take pictures for me.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

At times, Jeff had the camera lens almost touching the right side of my canvas. That's when I'd laugh.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

By this point, I've begun to relax and feel pretty good about the experience.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

Here I am explaining to Brittany about how I've created thousands of mandalas in small sketchbooks like this one.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

More insert shots before we go out into the hall outside my studio to do a walking shot. It didn't go very well. I'd touch my chest while talking and screw up the sound. Or I'd say something amazing but wasn't looking in the right direction and then couldn't remember what I'd said before, to be able to say it again. They were so patient with me...

Before heading downstairs, I wanted to use the restroom and made SURE that they removed the mike because I've seen the Naked Gun...

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

Brittany and I try another walking shot downstairs in the lobby in front of my featured artist wall. This time, the footage makes it into the segment. It might be that I'm not very coordinated, or that I haven't had much practice, but I found it to be quite challenging to speak while having to take physical direction. (Speak this, look here, walk now, look at Brittany) 

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

Another insert shot.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

Jeff filming my work that was hanging in the stairwell. We shot for four hours and I was completely exhausted by the time it was over.

PBS39 Interviews Stephanie Smith Mandala Artist: Spirit of Art

At the end of the day, I am really proud of this piece because I think it honestly depicts why I do what I do. I create to better know myself and to ultimately know what's bigger than me.

Want to know a secret? I almost turned down the interview. The potential for the opportunity was mentioned to me twice in person by the Director of Public Relations for ArtsQuest and if I'd had to give him an answer on the spot, I probably would have said no. When the spot was officially offered to me, it came via e-mail. So I at least had a little bit of breathing room before answering him. What ultimately convinced me to do it, was overall a big part of why I have a studio in the first place.

When I was a little girl, I never knew it was possible to be an artist. It never occurred to me that that was even a possibility. As much as I'd loved art, I thought that was only something for other people to do. So nowadays, I often leave the door open when I work in my studio because I want to make sure if another little girl comes along and doesn't realize that she too can be an artist, that I have the opportunity to talk to her about it. Filming this video is an extension of that thought.

Please watch the video and enjoy.

4 comments:

Daisy Yellow said...

Oh wow! I loved seeing you speak about your mandalas. You know that I've been a fan for years and it was just wonderful to see you shine:)

Rob and Siobhan said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Would love to see your co-creations in person some day. The video was great, too, especially after reading what it took to make it. Sending gratitude. ..

Biffybeans said...

Tammy, than you so much for your kind words. <3 I really appreciate them.

Biffybeans said...

Rob and Siobhan, come visit! There's a Comfort Suites across the street from my studio. Many thanks for your kind words.

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