For my second interview, I decided to talk to Lester Merriweather again. Because both Amanda and I approached him, Lester suggested we meet in person at a coffee shop. I wasn’t sure if I should have pre-prepared questions, so I spent a couple days thinking about the subjects I would want to discuss, as I figured it would be casual and could be more of a discussion rather than an interview since he seemed so laid back. Amanda typed up questions, so it was a good balance whenever one of us was thinking or writing, the other would ask a question.
I was mainly interested in why he chose to stay in Memphis and what he thinks about Memphis in the realm of the art world. Lester is from Memphis, went away for undergrad and then returned and ultimately stayed in order to stay closely connected with his family. I was glad to hear he shared my opinion of New York. A lot of artists see living in New York as the ultimate goal, but it is unnecessary. It is great to visit, Lester does often, but there is no need to pay exorbitant rent for a tiny apartment in a city that has far more artists than the galleries can accommodate. Lester said that Memphis is great because it is affordable, even to get a separate studio space, and the art community is fairly small so it is easy to get acquainted. There is a shortage of galleries and good spaces to show, however, and so he mainly shows out of town.
I also asked how exactly he stays in contact with the people he meets at shows or residencies. I didn’t know if this meant personal emails or what, but Lester said he mainly sends out show announcements. He finds physically mailing show cards works better since it is more tangible and people sift through email quickly. Sending out fliers shows your development and reminds them of you and your art. We also discussed how he has changed mediums and Lester said that it is important to not just make something beautiful, you need to engage the viewer and always be developing your work. So when you send out those fliers people should be excited to see your new work.
I was a bit nervous about meeting in person, I though I might be awkward or something, but having Amanda there in the same situation was helpful, and Lester isn’t that intimidating. I will definitely try to do more in-person talks in the future.