I first started the ASKtheARTIST project back in 2012. ASKtheARTIST is an educational journalism project that focuses exclusively on the arts. Powered by volunteers, the project hosts weekly, live streaming interviews and lessons with viral (or web famous) artists and creative companies from all parts of the world, including practicing fine artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, designers, animators, game designers, art education professionals, and art historians.

What makes the interviews and lessons somewhat unique is that, rather than using a formal interviewer to issue questions to the artists, it relies on the fans or the viewers to ask questions to the artists in real time via the web. The interviews and lessons are conducted online using live streaming audio and video services, like Ustream.TV. All events are recorded, and then stored in a public archive, which is readily available and always free for anyone to access online.

The idea for the ASKtheARTIST project originally evolved out of my experiences teaching art classes in the public school system for a number of years. Unfortunately, while I feel that most art classes in public schools are useful for teaching students the technical basics and aesthetic fundamentals of various artistic subjects, I often found that the content of many lessons could be a bit archaic or out of touch with what modern high school and college students are seeking to learn about the arts and the contemporary creative industries.

For instance, while it is important for students to learn about the old masters and about traditional art practices, many students who are interested in pursuing a career in today’s artistic industries can become disengaged in learning about the arts if they feel that the the content is not relevant to the types of art and the types of artists that they are most interested in. Worse still, many students report that they fear their art classes in high school (and even in college) are not thoroughly preparing them for the ever-changing job trends in the contemporary art fields.

ASKtheARTIST’s goal is to try to bridge the gap between what is taught in creative classrooms and what is going on in the modern creative industries by hosting these educational interviews and lessons with a wide variety of popular industry professionals. Additionally, we aim to host interviews and lessons with contemporary artists or creative companies that are more well-known to younger audiences (particularly “viral” artists or those popular on the internet) so as to further engage and encourage creative students in learning about the arts and in pursuing their careers. All ASKtheARTIST interviews and lessons are recorded and then saved in our public archive to be reviewed by any up-and-coming young artists, or to be used by art educators to support their curricula within various classrooms around the world.

I started the project two years ago with help from a team of creative volunteers. Initially, all the artists we interviewed heralded from AtA deviantART and were mostly well-known in the fields of illustration, animation, and fine art. The interviews were also held in real time via a chatroom, and the volunteers recorded or transcribed the interviews for storage in our public archive.

In just one year's time, we conducted live interviews with 25 talented and popular artists. Our efforts were noticed by the staff at deviantART, and our project was promoted numerous times via deviantART’s official social networks. The first wave of the ASKtheARTIST project concluded in a culminating live panel discussion among at least 10 of the viral artists held via AtA Facebook and attended by 180,000 viewers.

After a lot of work, the ASKtheARTIST project has recently reopened and has been revamped with many new features. Through a brand new series of seven actively associated project groups, we have now expanded the ASKtheARTIST project to be inclusive to a wider variety of artists, including musicians, filmmakers, and writers. We have also expanded our project to incorporate live streaming art lessons with viral artists, in addition to interviews.

Furthermore, the platform is now being hosted on The Free Artists Network (or FAN), which provides us with the primary portal for the project. New connections with the team members at Ustream.TV have also helped support us in utilizing their audio- and video-streaming services to host the interviews and lessons online.

Our ultimate objective is to host one live interview or live lesson every day of the week (or one per week for each of the 7 aforementioned categories of art) and to record these and store them in our public archive for all to freely access.

As you might imagine, the renovation of this project took a great deal of planning, organization, and labor on my part. I had to design and develop a system for obtaining, training, and organizing volunteer labor. This included creating application forms and releases; determining how to review applications; establishing on-boarding processes for new volunteers, which included designing and developing an extensive online training module; and developing systems and processes for volunteers to collaborate and coordinate their work with one another. I also had to design and develop training modules to guide artists through the live interview or lesson process.

I established all the platforms for the project, including our expansive networks and live-streaming channels. I also designed all the graphics and media utilized within the projects. Lastly, I had to consider means of obtaining sustainable funding for the project, so I also developed a Patreon Campaign to obtain ongoing support for our endeavors.

The redesign of the ASKtheARTIST project required about 2.5 months of work in total and about 2 weeks to fully train the volunteers. Because the mission behind this endeavor is so significant to me and becasue it has positively impacted numerous creative students and artists, I was particularly pleased to have had the privilege to manage a large-scale project like this one.

"I've been following Krisha Moeller 's work for over a year, and have found that she's a great inspiration. Her professionalism, interaction with the online community, and positive expression go hand-in-hand - leading to her projects being beneficial and pleasant for everyone. Her "ASKtheARTIST" is such an excellent idea and brings a lot to other artists like myself. It's well planned and executed - taking everyone's questions and directing them to the interviewee in a timely and respectful manner in a live chat. I would be glad to work with her on any project." -- Zach Adam Karpsten (Contract Artist at Studio Voltz)