Artists in Conversation:

Vijay Tellis-Nayak

What importance does your formal musical training have when producing other bands or solo artists?

It’s important to note that all great musicians have “studied” music. The degree to which that “study” has been formal, or qualifies as training, varies from musician to musician and probably matters little in terms of aesthetic effect. I should note that when I say “musician,” I am including not only the standard definition but also engineers, producers and everyone else who is involved in making aesthetic decisions.

Dan Wallace

What have been some of the biggest challenges to promoting yourself in the Chicago music scene?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered while promoting my music in Chicago stems from the fact that I perform under my own name as opposed to a band name.

Jamie O'Reilly

I really want this gig. How do I price myself? How do you talk about money and how much should I ask for?

Singer Jamie O'Reilly has been a professional performer for over 25 years. Her she talks the nuts and bolts of how artists can steer their careers, how to be paid fairly for work done, and ways that successful negotiation can lead to better gigs and the right audiences.

Kim Frost

How has being an artist meant different things to you as you've gotten older? How has teaching affected your practice?

I knew from a very early stage in life that I wanted to be a performing musician and nothing else. When I was in my late teens, studying violin, musical theater, and getting ready to attend Indiana University as a vocal performance major, I defined success as nothing less than being famous and having a lot of money as a result of performing. I pictured myself on stage, surrounded by adoring fans that would rush out to purchase my latest recording as soon as it became available. The music? Well, that was secondary to all the accolades and money.

Shauna Quill, University of Chicago Presents

Describe your duties as Executive Director for a non-profit arts organization and how your background has prepared you for this position?

About a year ago I began my tenure as Executive Director of The University of Chicago Presents (UCP), the University’s professional music presenting organization. It is my first time being the “boss” and I’m enjoying all aspects of it, from artistic planning and programming, which I’ve done for years, to fundraising and marketing, which are both firsts for me.

Shawn Murphy

What are the services that The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) provides for musicians?

The basic service that ASCAP provides to musicians is royalty collection and distribution for public performances of their songs. We have evolved to become a major advocate for songwriters' rights here in America.

William Rattner - Lawyers for the Creative Arts

What do Lawyers Have to do with Art?

I don't have a story, I have a plea to the arts community, based on hundreds of stories told by the artists who come to us for help. My plea is simple, and not very original. I am urging each of you to realize that, whether or not you like it, you are in business.

Jiba Anderson - Griot Enterprises

How Have You Become More Legal-savvy in Your Artistic Career?

Every artist has to remember that, first and foremost, art is a business. If you don't want to face that fact, then do not try to survive off of your talent. Find something else to do. With that being said, I have learned early on that artists need to protect themselves.

Mitch Paliga

How do you balance performing, practicing, composing and business?

This is an ongoing struggle that I find I have in common with most, if not all, of my colleagues in the music business. We all deal with this issue differently. How I have dealt with balancing my creative process and my music business has changed and evolved over the course of my professional life, and I'm sure it will continue to do so.

Dayna Malow

What have been some of the biggest challenges in promoting yourself in Chicago?

I used to consider myself an anomaly in Chicago because I had chosen to specialize in a type of music, which until recently, was totally devoid of a scene: Popular Country Music. I am not talking about the old school "honky-tonk" style of country played at Carol's Pub; or the alt-country music played at the Hideout. No, I am referring to straight out of Nashville, US99-playing, Keith Urban-loving, Country Music. I fell in love with artists like Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley, and Reba McEntire—becoming enthralled with the voices, harmony, and songwriting—while I was in college. I made the decision to pursue this passion after graduation.

Mindy Rose Schwartz

How important is it for you to update your skills on an ongoing basis?

UPDATED NOVEMBER 23rd: Mindy Rose Schwartz receives the 7th annual Achievement Award from The Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Charitable Foundation for the Arts. 

Bob Sloane, Harold Washington Library

How can the Harold Washington Library archives be useful to artists?

Bob Sloane currently heads the Art Information Center at the Harold Washington Library Center. He is in charge of the dance collections, and has programmed more than 350 live dance performances in the last 18 years. Here he speaks on the library archives, how they preserve Chicago's dance history, and how artists can submit works for inclusion.

Mark Nelson

How can art-making impact social and political issues?

The projects I have created for the last 22 years are the direct result of having been raised overseas as a resident guest in other people's lands.

Frederick Holland

How can an art practice have a political/social impact?

From a historical perspective, images were often used to glorify a God or successful citizens (who served as an example of behavior that one should emulate) or to celebrate a hero (who sacrificed in service to the state). The relatively high cost and specialized skills needed for the production of imagery precluded the creation of artworks that challenged the existing powers.

Lee Tracy

Effective business strategies for an artist?

It is important for artists to take things seriously; so seriously that we must enact a thoughtful plan to set ourselves up in a sustainable environment.

Laura Weathered

How Can Artists Create a Cooperative Housing Project?

Artist finds dusty, unused space, convinces landlord to rent space, improves the raw space with the help of friends, neighborhood gets trendy, rents double, artist moves to another neighborhood. Repeat the scenario every two years. How many years do you put up with this cycle of dust and grime, and working in a really, unhealthy raw space? Artist gets tired. It costs too much to make art anymore.

Claire Pentecost

How can art-making impact social and political issues?

I collaborated with Critical Art Ensemble and Beatriz daCosta to create a project of public science using Monsanto's patented RoundUp Ready (soy, canola and corn).

Lifeline (installation) by David A. Parker

Mentors Must be Sought

Mentors offer invaluable inspiration and guidance, but they must be sought out.

I had been brought up with the notion that making art or being an artist was not a viable way of life in today's America. Worse, I knew no artists already practicing with whom I felt a close kinship or with whom I might study.

Victor Maldonado

How Did You Transition from Local to National?

My short career as an artist has been rewarding, transformative and demanding.


Artists in Conversation: | Page 5 | Chicago Artists Resource


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