Brief Encounters

2017 Roundup


Over the course of 2017, we asked our interviewees what they would most like to ask their fellow artists. Now, their questions have been answered.

Our first annual instalment of Brief Encounters includes contributions from cartoonist Kate Beaton, filmmaker Anna Biller, artist Olafur Eliasson, composers Disasterpeace and Tarik O'Regan, and authors Lisa McInerney, Kamila Shamsie, Preti Taneja, and Madeleine Thien.

Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton is a cartoonist best known for the comic strip Hark! A Vagrant. Her book of the same name was chosen as one of the top ten fiction books of 2011 by Time magazine, while the follow-up, Step Aside, Pops, topped The New York Times graphic novel bestseller list in 2015. She is also an award-winning author of children’s books (King Baby, The Princess and the Pony).

Is failure more valuable or less valuable than success? (Eric A. Anderson, video game developer)
Failure is more valuable in the beginning, as long as you don’t stop right there. Failure teaches the gift that success really is.

Anna Biller

Anna Biller is a filmmaker. Her second feature film, The Love Witch, a horror comedy about a woman who uses magic to attract men, was selected as one of the best movies of 2016 by IndieWire and The New Yorker.

Do you believe there is such a thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in terms of the quality of art? (Amber Arcades, dream pop musician)
I believe there is an inherent value in works of art. For instance, if someone doesn’t like Shakespeare, the fault is in the reader.


Disasterpeace is the alias of Richard Vreeland, an electronic music producer and film & video game composer (It Follows, Fez). His soundtrack for the game Hyper Light Drifter was selected as one of the best albums of 2016 by FACT Magazine. He was named as one of forty rising film stars of 2018 by The Guardian.

Can ideas be owned? (Claire Carré, filmmaker)
Many of us try to protect ideas from practices we disapprove of, but ideas do not grow in vacuums and cannot be truly contained.

Is it moral to ignore the news? (Salvatore Scibona, author)
Morality is not a monolith. But if we share any sense of it, I think it’s basic. Be grateful. Be kind. Love one another. Give back.

Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson is the artist behind the widely acclaimed The Weather Project, a 2003 installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, London. His other artworks include the 2007 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion (with Kjetil Thorsen) and his series of interventions for the palace and gardens of Versailles in 2016.

Is your art’s narrative predetermined, or is it formed during the creative process? (Blanck Mass, electronic musician)
An artwork starts as a felt feeling. As it is put into words and given form, it evolves – until finally it leaves my studio, becomes yours.

Lisa McInerney

Lisa McInerney is an author. She won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016 for her debut novel, The Glorious Heresies, which traces the impact of a murder – committed accidentally by the elderly mother of a gangster –on five misfits with ties to the Cork crime world. The follow-up, The Blood Miracles, was published in 2017.

People usually expect ‘creative types’ to speak eloquently in public or in interviews. Do you ever feel like you're talking utter shite? (Evie Wyld, author)
All the time. But I’m learning not to worry that my experiences aren’t worthy or my words aren’t valid. So long as it’s honest shite, right?

What compels you? (Ann Marie Fleming, filmmaker)
A bizarre sense of duty towards the people who live in my head.

Which emotion gets you into the most trouble? (Smith Henderson, author)
Righteousness. I have very fixed ideas about merit and justice. And then I'm contradicted by reality, which makes me bilious.

Tarik O’Regan

Tarik O’Regan is a composer and two-time British Composer Award winner: for Sainte in 2005 (Vocal category) and Threshold of Night in 2007 (Liturgical category). His album Tarik O’Regan: Threshold of Night, performed by choral group Conspirare, received two Grammy nominations in 2009.

How much do you procrastinate? (Nadifa Mohamed, author)
I will answer this, most likely identically to how I would have responded instantly, yet (as with my composing) first I need to feel the exquisite agony of time expiring before making my mark: ‘a lot.’

Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie is an author who, in 2013, was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. Her seventh novel, Home Fire – a contemporary, cross-continental reimagining of the Antigone – was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2017.

How much of your work borrows from other artists, and where do you draw the line? (Lusine, electronic musician)
Much more than I know, I’m sure. My rule is: look at other artists’ lines, think about how they drew them – then draw your own damn line.

Preti Taneja

Preti Taneja is a writer, broadcaster, filmmaker, and human rights activist. Her debut novel, We That Are Young, a reimagining or King Lear set in modern Delhi, was selected as a Book of the Year in 2017 by The Guardian and The Spectator.

Does knowledge of your mortality affect your art – and if so, how? (Annie Hart, synth pop musician)
My relationship with mortality is extreme. It makes me write more fearlessly, on my own terms. More compassionately too, I hope.

What do you love about making art? (Julianne Pachico, author)
Beginning. And when choices I’ve made early on start asserting control. It gets intense. There’s nothing like that feeling.

Madeleine Thien

Madeleine Thien is a short story writer and novelist. Her fifth book, Do Not Say We Have Nothing – a multi-generational epic that follows two Chinese families from the beginning of Mao Zedong’s reign to present day – was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize and 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

What do you love about making art? (Julianne Pachico, author)
Its restlessness. That questions give rise to a new shape in the world, a shape which allows other ways of sensing, thinking, and living.

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