Service to the art community doesn’t have to end when one leaves the doors of TJC. Some are constantly trying to put more artists out there in any way they can. Derrick White, a TJC art professor and Art Department chair, writes a monthly article for EGuide Magazine, a Tyler based publisher that highlights interesting events or people in the area. White uses his articles to showcase local artists or art related events in an effort to bring exposure to both the artists’ works and the places people can view the works on a more personal level.
“One of our adjunct professors, her sister-in-law, is the publisher of EGuide Magazine. It’s an events guide here in East Texas, and she was writing for EGuide. She did an article on me back in 2014. But she also had three small children at the time, and she became too busy to continue writing. And so she asked me if I wanted to take it over. And so I took it over on a temporary basis to see if I would like to do it, and so I’ve been doing it on a temporary basis for the last nine years,” White said.
Originally, White was helping a friend out and keeping their work alive, but it became more of a personal mission to him. According to the EGuide Magazine website, White’s first article for the magazine was published in Oct. 29, 2014 for the November issue of the magazine, meaning White is coming up on nine years next October.
“It’s been fun; I really enjoy it. I love to promote the visual arts in East Texas. I think they go underrepresented a lot of times,” White said. “You know, there’s a lot going on in our community that a lot of people don’t know about and one of the main things is the visual arts, and the exhibits, and the events and the opportunities for people to not only see and experience but also collect and buy and support these visual artists that we have in our area.”
White tries to hone in on local events and artists because he believes those artists should be able to make a living anywhere without having to move to a big city in order to keep the lights on. He hopes his work can help be the difference for an artist trying to decide between trying to make it somewhere they are already comfortable and moving away in an attempt to have more reach.
“He’s really an amazing writer; he can make anyone sound interesting. He’s a creative writer just like he is in his artwork, just amazing,” said Paula McDermott, a TJC art professor. “I love reading his articles about the local artists and local events.”
There are times where White interviews other TJC faculty because he finds immense pride in the art faculty being professional artists. White isn’t just helping former and current TJC students, he also tries to get people to explore the work of TJC professors and staff.
“It’s not a hard and fast rule but it’s kind of a restriction I put on myself, I try not to write about current students. I want to write about students after they’ve left TJC and hopefully have gotten at least their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree,” White said. “I like to focus in and spotlight students that are staying in the area and staying committed to visual art.”
The importance of exposure and a strong resume are not lost on White, as he actively attempts to find young and promising student artists to feature. White has made exceptions in the past. Sometimes there are certain students who just captivate White with either their raw talent or their ability or contribution to the arts who haven’t left TJC or who haven’t attained their degree yet. Another form of exception is when White covers events.
“I attend a lot of art events and art shows and art festivals, like Edom Art Festival and different things like that. So, I try to network and learn about and meet and greet other artists and take their business cards. So, I keep a running list of different artists I’d like to feature at some point, and that list just keeps getting longer. So, you know, until I can’t write anymore, or I run out of artists, I’ll just keep going,” White said.
White’s ambition and determination is fueled by a list of connections with other artists that is constantly growing. The events bring in new artists every year, so instead of having to seek them out individually, White has places full of talent he can scout as well as the event itself being an option to cover.
“I have a series of about 10 questions that I asked the artist or people that I’m interviewing, and it just gives me some insight and understanding of who they are and what their creative process is,” White said.
Unlike White’s strategy of going with the flow whenever he is making his own art, White has a concrete plan of questions to ask whenever he is interviewing someone. He talks about the artists’ history with the subject, how they got into making art, what art means to them and even some of the uglier sides of art such as frustrations and fears about their career.
“The most common frustration with art making is time, time and space. Especially for aspiring visual artists that leave school, because they no longer have access to some of the tools and equipment like maybe a kiln, if they’re a ceramic artist, you know, they go home and live in an apartment, they don’t have a place to spread out and do their painting or ceramics or what have you. So, time is a big issue that can be an obstacle in creating art, space is a big issue. And then I’d say probably on the list of top three, the next one will probably be resources or money,” White said.
Art is equally as relaxing as it is frustrating according to White’s interviewees. They talk about the hardships of setting time aside to create new works that are directly linked to the resources they have and the money spent trying to make it. Additionally, one artist may find themselves with time and money, but White said without space and resources, the other two factors they do have do less for the artist.
“I’m not a journalist. I don’t even consider myself a writer necessarily. I just consider myself a promoter. I want to promote the visual arts that we have in East Texas,” White said. “I want to promote these artists and give them an article that they can send to potential collectors and clients and people that are interested in their art and learning more about them. And hopefully, it’s something they can add to their resume or you know, their website or what have you. To help people learn more about them and the art that they make.”