Interview with Tom Phelan
How long have you been instructing here?
This is my fourth year teaching here.
What is the art school for you?
It’s a private and unique higher education system to get ideas of different art practice. My job is to give the students an overview into different techniques of printmaking.
What is this year’s topic being dealt with in your workshop?
I don’t have one set topic, I have one or two small themes for the second year, the third year students have to have their own idea/ theme that they are exploring for their diploma.
What significance does the artistic process have in your work as an instructor at the Vienna Art School?
Now that the school has bigger rooms and more equipment, it is easier to move forward and focus on what you are doing. You can expand more your teaching, have more options with techniques. Overall, it helps people develop. As a teacher, I also want to improve, to have content students, and give them a feeling that they are learning something and developing.
What do you do if one of your students has the feeling that he or she is not progressing in the process?
When I see them having problems or getting frustrated, I talk to them and usually tell them to look at some art and relax. Focusing can be difficult, and usually they are just tired from focusing too much. They probably have outside jobs as well, which makes them physically tired. A major part of my job is helping to motivate them as well as teaching them the techniques.
When do you know that the artistic process is over?
I have been printing for 30 years now, but I’m still learning, so there isn’t really ever an end to the process. You learn by making mistakes!
The workshop printmaking is guided by Eliane Huber Irikawa and Tom Phelan, both artists and experienced instructors.