Q1: Before you introduce yourself and the type of work you are in, can you possibly share what we missed out on from your progress in 2011, events, commissions, projects etc?
A: 2011 was full of triumph and challenge for me. I started my own company (DMA PRODUCTIONS NYC, LLC) with business partner SAX DMA and became project manager of a feature-length film while taking 25 credit-hours at college. During this time, I was recovering from some nasty “art block” and coming to some really existential but necessary conclusions regarding my future career as an artist.
Q2: When did you realize your art was important, that your art was what you wanted to do, did anyone influence you, existing digital or traditional artists?
A: I never had that realization… art has always just been a part of who i am, just as much as breathing, eating, sleeping. I don’t remember a time in my life that i wasn’t doing something artistic. My parents were very encouraging, and did everything they could to nurture my interest in art, getting me into classes outside of school, having me enter contests, supplying me with materials to practice and experiment with. I don’t think i’d be where i am today without them (i currently have a full scholarship to college for art).
Q3: Can you explain what your main tools are in creating your art?, and also would you encourage others to update their equipment or master what they have before taking on something new – is the need to update equipment or software programs important in order to producing art?
A: My main tools… would be my mind, I guess. Observations that I make every day, research I do in psychology, sociology/anthropology, physics/quantum mechanics. My sketchbook is full of words. I write essays to formulate artistic concepts. For two years, i stopped drawing altogether and was just writing, doing video documentaries and interviews, painting.
To me, art is not as much about the equipment than what you do with it. Rembrandt drew on the backs of scrap textbook paper when he ran out of money, yet the work still shines with his brilliance. Only last year did i update my photoshop 7 program to a Creative Suite, and sure there are some nifty new features, and their presence might be influencing some of the aesthetic decisions i make with my design work, but overall my approach to design hasn’t changed.
I think that sometimes people rely on digital technology as a crutch, abusing filters and using cliche visual tactics to make pretty, yet conceptually empty images. That makes it craft, not art.
I do think that people should allow themselves to explore multiple media- that’s what’s great about art schools and classes. There, instructors and courses will get you to try new and different things to stretch your limits and get you out of your “comfort zone”. Sometimes an artistic idea is better represented with a sculpture than a drawing, better portrayed using film rather than painting. They are all different languages to express the ideas you have amassed in your mind; the medium you choose to present those ideas will truly affect how they are interpreted.
Q4: Everyone endures a long or short process of learning and adapting, as well as the ability of mixing up styles from existing tutorials. How was your experience of learning your own art? And what would you suggest to others who are trying to learn of their own ‘art’?
A: I hate the idea of “style”. I think it is a concept that causes artists- especially younger artists to move in the wrong direction with their work. Style is shaped by an individual’s unique and personal perception, therefore to create a personal style, one must look inside themselves–personally. Trying to do what others are not doing, or trying to take an existing style and “make it your own” are approaches that distract a person from seeing the value of their own originality. It’s best to “be true to one’s self”. I’ve struggled with this throughout my life, especially as I primarily work with narrative and painting, which are generally considered overdone by post-modern opinion. Setting goals has helped me overcome many obstacles. I really enjoy challenges, and always push myself to try and do my very best (best according to my own standards, not others).
Q5: How would you describe the important elements of creating ‘art’? is it important to create a guide or notes of what to do and what not to do when you begin the long process of creating an art piece?
A: It’s important to stay focused, to get into a work “flow”, and every artist has their own way of doing that.
I saw this TED talk with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who is a professor of positive psychology. He described “flow” as a sort of super-human state of consciousness that allows the world to fall away, keeping you completely engaged in a single task. This is what allows people to go without eating, sleeping, working toward a goal non-stop for hours or days. It is said that Newton had these moments, and so did William Herschel and his sister, Pollack probably did, sports stars do, everyone does at some point. It’s the closest you can get to living in the present moment, and is highly productive.https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html
Q6: It is very common to endure the ‘struggles’ and the ‘weight’ of art around you, what were the struggles that you encountered and how would you suggest to others on how to cope with it?
A: Sometimes its best to close your eyes, cover your ears, and then do whatever feels most natural and right (without hurting anyone of course). That can apply to anything, I think. Sometimes people offer advice with the best of intentions, and an external influence can be really tempting to succumb to, but not all of that will benefit your work.
Again, just stay focused on your long-term goals and don’t stop making things.
Q7: Besides the current field of work you are in, do you have anything outside that you would like to share with us? Any other future plans that don’t involve creative art?
A: The only thing I can think of is possibly continuing work in film. I actually like film management, it’s a nice break from all the other creative stuff I do. Although I love directing, acting, and script-writing as well, management is an interesting position in its own right.
Q8: A few artists go by a quote or a motto to keep reminding them selves to work hard and think positive if they are to encounter ‘a bad day’. So are there any words you want to share out to others that may inspire them to work hard and continue working. An inspirational quote to motivate others?
A: “Do what you need to do, to get to where you need to be.” I always remind myself of this when faced with a tough situation.
Q9: Any predictions of what the future holds for art?
A: It’s hard enough to think of what role art has in the present tense, let alone tomorrow. I hope that people come to recognize that creativity is prevalent in every subject- engineers need it, scientists, writers, historians, detectives, managers etc etc. It is a way of problem solving that goes hand-in-hand with logic and needs to be embraced, not marginalized.
Q10: I’m sure you have sites you would like to share with us of your work, so please do share them with us here for fans and followers to keep an update of your progress.
facebook: Lee Milby (send a message stating why you want to friend me or i’ll auto-decline)
Q11: Last year I asked a question regarding ‘art theft’ this year will be no different. Do you have anything you would like to share out regarding ‘art theft’ and maybe also shed some light on what artists should do when exposing their art work on the vast world of the internet.
A: Putting your art out there is always risky. Obviously, the best way to protect is to abstain from showing it online… but i know that it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the internet these days. Even watermarks are no match for photoshop, and the only other way to disguise thoroughly is to completely deface a piece with watermarkage.
I used to become enraged by art theft. When i was big into illustration, it was part of the code of honor that none should copy/trace/reference an existing drawing, and doing so made you some sort of evil. But then i walked into a museum and saw a collage made by a fine artist that used hundreds of illustrations (all uncredited) in it. It was a modern artist, using modern illustrations (some of which i recognized). It twisted my whole view on the subject… i supposed that “theft” was not theft if one made an entirely new and unrelated thing with the works they took… and “theft” was different if presented off-line rather than on.
I don’t know any fine artists (established, starting or students) who even consider the possibility of copyright infringement when they make their works. Not condoning it, but that’s apparently just the way it is.
Q12: I didn’t get the chance to include this question for 2011, so here it is for you. Everyone has their own opinions regarding the meaning of art, or the definition of art. Any chance we can hear what you think art is from you?
A: Creativity is a compulsion, a way of thinking. Art is a language of thought.
Q13: And finally for the last question to round off our interview, ‘a picture says a thousand words’ or ‘tell a story’ out of your current portfolio, do you have one that you favour the most and why? Is there a subliminal message within your work?
A: I like “Ophelia” because i remember feeling really good while i was painting it. It’s about 8ft by 5ft, and took me about two or maybe three days to bring together because i was so excited about it. If there is a subliminal message, then i’m not conscious of it… someone else would have to point it out, i s’pose.
Q14: Ok so this is optional, just out of curiosity what annoys you the most in your field of work? Do you get a lot of requests on art collabs, interviews, features etc etc?
A: It bothers me when people assume that design work is “easy” and therefore should be free. When people download photoshop and claim to be designers the next day. Dealing with very fussy clients.
I like art collabs, interviews are okay although i hate the sound of my voice. Features are great as long as i’m not misrepresented…as sometimes has happened.