This week, Art&Seek tips the Q&A hat to fellow arts reporter and new media renaissance man Justin Flowers. You might have seen Justin acting on stage (recently in Circle Theatre’s Incorruptible) or encountered him in his day job with the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Art&Seek listens to Justin’s weekly podcast, This Week in the Arts, which he produces with his partner and fellow actress Dana Schultes. (A&S boss Anne Bothwell once took a turn in that spotlight.) And now it’s time to turn the tables on Justin for this week’s Art&Seek Q&A:
Art&Seek: Is this weird that I’m asking you questions since you’re used to doing the asking?
Justin Flowers: Maybe a little. Not too terribly. I guess I’m relieved that I’m not being recorded.
A&S: What do you use to record your podcasts?
J.F.: I use Skype, and I have to hijack the audio through the computer to a different program to record it all.
A&S: You do several podcasts?
J.F.: I do two at this point.
A&S: One is This Week in the Arts. What’s the other?
J.F.: It was the first one I started with a friend from college. It’s called A Semi-Modest Proposal. It has nothing in all in relation to This Week in the Arts. It’s me and a college buddy having a conversation once a week – that’s what it comes down to.
A&S: Did working on that give you the idea for This Week in the Arts?
J.F.: I knew I wanted to do something with audio, and I knew podcasting was a medium that I wanted to work in. Starting out a couple of years ago, there was very little information about what tools to use, so I just called my friend and that got me started playing with it and learning the rules and how things work. But I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something serious with the medium.
A&S: Did you know it would be arts based?
J.F.: So much of my life is entrenched in the arts. Dana and I both work at nonprofit arts organizations during the day, and we’re both stage actors at night. I guess shortly after getting started with podcasting, I knew it was going to be arts based.
A&S: How do you find your subjects?
J.F.: Dana does a lot of that. She’s the producer of the show, which means she goes and she finds people. But we watch the news and we watch what’s coming up, and now we’ve gotten to the point where people are actually sending suggestions. That’s the best part. It makes it so much easier.
A&S: Your Facebook page lists your interests as “acting and technology.” They seem like distant fields. Do you bring skills from acting into the podcasting project?
J.F.: Definitely. You listen to yourself when you’re actually the voice on it.
A&S: Have you done on-air acting?
J.F.: I’m primarily theater based. When you’re on stage, you have to be clearly understood, you have to be able to enunciate your words and you have to be able to separate the consonants from your vowels. It’s the technical side of performance; you have to be understood, you have to be clear and you have to be interesting.
A&S: It sounds like you have a genuine interest in the technology, that it’s not just an acceptance that this is where things are going.
J.F.: I follow technology as much, or possibly more, than I do local arts. I’m fascinated by it. With my podcast, the technology I’ve used for it has changed probably eight or 10 times, trying to find the better way to do it, the faster way to do it. Now I’ve gotten to a point where I can hit record on my computer, I can play the music, I can do the intro, I can talk to the person, I can outro from it, I can play the outro music and hit stop on the computer. And if I want to, I can send that file directly up to the Internet for the podcast. So it can be as easy as that.
A&S: Did I read correctly that you were in the Marine Corps?
J.F.: Yes indeed. I don’t come from an arts background at all. I wasn’t into that in high school. In the military I was a radar technician, very science- and math-based stuff. I was planning on majoring in math when I came out and went to college. I ended up taking a performance acting class on a lark, really loving it, getting a scholarship and following that path. I feel like all of that has led me to being able to do things like this podcast, know what I mean?
Being interested in technology has led me to these mediums that exist on the Internet, and the Internet as a medium. The performance side of it has led me to being a part of the medium, too, a voice thing. I don’t know, maybe. At this point I’m psychoanalyzing myself. Perhaps I should stop.
The Art&Seek Q&A is a weekly discussion with a person involved in the arts in North Texas. Check back next Thursday for another installment.