Q & A: What do you listen to while you work on artwork?

It’s usually nice to have something playing in the background when you’re in the studio. I like to I listen to radio shows and music. Podcasts are an amazing thing – they really do help the time pass. The following are my top podcasts to listen to while I work:

  1. This American Life – I really enjoy the way this show focuses on a theme and tells stories related to that theme. The old English major within me really gets a kick out of this.
  2. The Classic Tales Podcast – again, I like to read but lately all my artwork and marketing work has really made it difficult to pick up a book. With this podcast, I can enjoy familiar stories or hear classic tales that I’ve never heard before.
  3. Fresh Air – I’m a sucker for Terry Gross’s interviews with directors, musicians, and actors. It’s also a good way to hear interesting stories about current events.
  4. 60 Minutes – just good journalism.
  5. Escape from Illustration Island – when I first discovered this podcast, I downloaded all of the episodes and gradually worked my way through them. Needless to say, listening to Thomas James interview illustrators and talk about illustration is part of the reason I decided to look into going back to school for illustration. You can find some really helpful and inspiring tips here if you’re a fellow artist.
  6. Art Marketing Action Podcast – these are typically really short podcasts, only a couple of minutes, and from time to time I get a few good ideas of directions to move in with my art marketing.

Other times I listen to music. Recently I’ve had a tendency of falling back on the following albums/musicians:

  1. 500 Days of Summer Soundtrack – this is my latest obsession. For some reason I absolutely love this album and just about every song on it. “You Make my Dreams” by Hall & Oates is of course a favorite.
  2. M. Ward
  3. The Beatles
  4. Ray LaMontagne
  5. Bob Dylan

When I get tired of listening to interviews and music, I’ll usually change things up by watching a movie. I’ve started taking advantage of Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature. I’ll listen to/watch movies on my computer as I sprawl out on the floor with all of my magazines. Lately I’ve watched a lot of comedies and flicks from the 80’s.

What do you like listening to while you work?

Q & A: What do you use to photograph your artwork?

I’ve gotten this question a few times over the past few months, so I thought I’d go ahead and share it with you.

I prefer taking pictures of my artwork myself. That way, if I notice something’s amiss when I zoom in to study a high resolution image of my work, I can easily retake the pictures in the comfort of my apartment. I have to admit though—I slack a little bit when it comes to taking my progress pictures (sometimes I just don’t set up the lighting).

So what do I use?

I used to use a Canon PowerShot SD600 and I’d go outside on an overcast day to take pictures of my work. You’re probably already predicting where things went wrong with this method. Since I was relying on the great outdoors, the lighting was inconsistent and unreliable. I had to wait for good weather before I could go outside for the photo shoot—that means waiting for the rain and snow to go away. And the PowerShot camera is just a simple point and shoot camera so the quality of the images isn’t that great. I noticed that a lot of my artwork often looked washed out and sometimes blurry—something that I only noticed once I lugged all my artwork back inside and uploaded the images to my computer.

Now I use a good old Nikon D3000 and I love it. The image resolution is much better and I have more control over the settings.

I also use a light kit that I got from B&H. It’s a Lowel Ego Digital Imaging Fluorescent light kit that came with stands and tilt brackets. With the light kit, I can control the lighting. And best of all, I don’t have to rely on the weather outside to take pictures of my work.

Q & A: Introducing Megan Coyle

Below is a Q & A made up from FAQ’s I’ve received via email or in-person:

How long have you been an artist?
I’ve been making art all my life, but I started taking it more seriously about four years ago.

Green coffee cup by collage artist Megan Coyle

How did you get into art?

I took art classes as a kid at a nearby gallery—dabbling in pottery, sculpture, cartooning, painting—the works. During the summer, I’d create my own paper dolls and illustrate stories. And I always had an art class at school every year. I considered these classes a nice getaway, a way to relax and unwind.

Parrot Family childhood drawing by Megan Coyle

Drawing by Megan Coyle at age six.

How do you get inspiration for your artwork?

I find inspiration from common, everyday things—the bright colors of a farmer’s market, someone making a funny face, animals lounging at the zoo. The world around us is filled with so much color and excitement.

Commuters by collage artist Megan Coyle

How did you get started with collage?

For several years here and there, I’m sure I made collages the way most people did as a child—by collaging words and photographs to create a jumbled mix of recognizable objects. In high school, I explored a variety of media, including collage, and over the years, my technique evolved. During my senior year of high school, I started making collages the way I currently do—cutting out shapes of color and texture from magazine pages to construct figures. However, I focused more on playing with color and I’d draw over my collages with oil pastel.

How many hours a day do you create?

I typically work on artwork a couple of hours a day every day. I aim for longer than this, but the time I set aside for art fluctuates depending on how much time I need to devote to my web and graphic design work.

Boston Terrier by collage artist Megan Coyle

How do you recharge your creativity?

When I need to recharge, I usually take a break from work in general. Getting away on a short vacation can help me recharge my batteries. Taking a simple trip to a museum or wandering around town to take pictures can do wonders to my creativity.

Street in Old Town by collage artist Megan Coyle

What was your first job?

For my first job out of college, I worked at a local art museum as a security guard (believe it or not). The museum only hired art majors or historians for the position, which is pretty odd because I don’t consider artists to be very intimidating people. And I think the general public agreed with this. The hours were long and grueling, and I ended up quitting after a few months because it wasn’t challenging enough. That and I’d rather make art than bark at people to get away from it.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Working away on collages while putting on a solo show about once a year. I also see myself working more with animating my collages. And I hope to crank out a couple of children’s books by then.

I’ll definitely live and breathe art no matter what I’m doing.

The New York Diner by collage artist Megan Coyle

What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?

Getting accepted for my first solo exhibition was incredibly exciting. I’m also ecstatic every time I hear from teachers who have used my artwork as examples in their lesson plans. It’s just really rewarding knowing that your art is being used to teach and inspire.

What do you wish you could do?

Help others realize how great art is. One of my life-long goals is to make people think of art the way they think of rock n’ roll.

Yellow Flowers by collage artist Megan Coyle

What other interests do you have outside of visual art?

I’m a junkie for every art form out there. There’s nothing I love more than seeing a great concert, reading a good book, or watching a movie that makes me think more about the world around me.

What gives you hope in the world?

Whenever I’m blessed with the kindness of a fellow artist or art enthusiast—nothing else makes me believe that art is bound for bigger and better things.

Goldfish Pond by collage artist Megan Coyle