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Interview with Interaction Designer

What is your name and professional title?

Erin Thomson; Interaction Designer.

What university did you attend and what's the name of the course you took?

BA(Hons) Interaction Design at The Glasgow School of Art.

Why did you decide to go to art school and what attracted you to take a digital course?

Initially I wanted to go to art school to learn/grow as a Photographer - I found that at art school you have the creative freedom to learn by expressing which you don’t necessarily find at college/university. I was offered a place within the interaction design course and it was so new and alien to me that I just had to join…

Did your course include learning about the commercial art world? If yes, how was this done?


Through our research, we found that art students can have a skeptical attitude towards the commercial side of the art industry. Why do you think that is? What are your personal feelings about the art market? How was your transition from art school into the art world?

As my tutor would say - we were studying art not web design… it took me a while but I soon realised that he wasn’t shitting on the commercial art world, it was a way for us as students to open our minds/think outside the box/be creatives with no boundaries - this is how I learned the many artistic/design skills I now have! My transition from art school to work was surprisingly smooth… I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew what I didn’t want to do so I only applied for jobs that would excite me - key point when entering the commercial world when you are used to creating for yourself. Having that confidence/believing in my creative ability is what helped me I think.

What is the difference between the commercial world and art institutions? Did the commercialization and monetization of art change your attitudes towards your practice?

I would say that the commercial world tends to acquire certain skills whereas art institutions (fine art) helps enhance the self expression that can’t be taught. I think my main thought was ‘shit, i’m so out of my depth’ because I was an artist working with developers. If anything the commercialisation of my industry has helped me grow as a coder! I am working towards getting that dream job of creating huge digital installations - but I am using the commercial world to help me achieve this…

As a digital artist and designer, how do you position yourself in the art market? What are some of the challenges you have faced with this medium of art?

I am still figuring that out haha, but I find that interacting with people on these social platforms is a great thing! The art market is mad these days, there are so many talented people in the world, I don’t think it should be seen as a competitive place though. Collaboration is very much at the heart of my work, these creative social platforms are amazing for all us creatives to work together! My main challenge is people thinking I'm a developer, I don’t want to make your websites!

Do you think a lack of teaching about the art market causes a lack of representation in the industry?

If you go to art school with the intention of being a self represented artist/designer surely you would do your research? Maybe I've misinterpretation the question, but, throughout my art school career we were encouraged to showcase our work at exhibitions as well as curate our own. It can be a very vulnerable place when showcasing work to the public, which became a very valuable lesson in how to hold your own when given constructive criticism, as well as to keep level headed when praised. You have to learn how to represent yourself by doing.

We are speaking to students about the art market. What advice would you give to students about entering the art world?

I would say networking is key, if you want something enough then don’t be afraid to ‘annoy’ people.

Finally, What changes (if any) do you want to see in the art market? E.g. Jerry Saltz claims that art fairs are 'broken'. Do you think the art world is broken? 

The lack of diversity immediately popped into my head. I think artists as a whole need to fight for what they believe in. Don’t let corporations dictate your creative process! Likewise, these huge galleries need to wake up and realise that the art market is flooded with talented individuals from all walks of life, they have a platform which has the power to provoke diverse thinking throughout the world.

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