More from Marian Bantjes
1. From Marian herself: The Difference between Inspiration, Influence and Reference Material and how you should use it...
Inspiration is that unexpected moment of discovery when the mind leaps to a new place triggered by something interesting. That something interesting can be a thing you've read, or seen on the street, or in a book or gallery, or a piece of music, or something really great or something really awful. For me it is often unrelated to my work and is completely unpredictable.
Influence is when you see something you like, usually work that is related to the work you do, and you absorb whatever it is you like about it and either consciously or subconsciously emulate it or somehow incorporate something of it into your own work.
Reference material is when you look at something specific and try to make something like that.
2. From us: Do your research.
As we read through Marian's page of student questions, we noticed something that we've noticed before in other similar situations. So let's have a moment of blunt advice here: If you're interviewing someone, they are giving you their time. Show them some respect by doing some preliminary research. To ask an artist what medium they work in when you could easily figure that out by simply perusing their website tells them that you don't actually care, and that you want them to do all the work for you. And more than anything, it doesn't really teach you anything.
Trust us: Most people DO want to help you, and they are much more willing to do so when you can show you have already tried to learn about them/their subject. It shows that you actually care and are worth the time it takes to engage with. This is true for everything from asking for career advice on a message board, to asking artists questions for a class presentation, to interviewing for a job.
So take our advice ... when you have a project or are wondering about something or want a job, do some research first. The better questions you can ask, the better answers you're going to get.
Image from Marian's website, a vector art illustration for the New York Times