Leah & Channing Smithson | Episode 636
Visual Artist Leah Smithson and Specials Procedures Technologist, Channing Smithson, partnered together to found the creative collaborative CLSS Studio. Leah and Channing strongly believe that purposeful art and design improves our lives. Leveraging both Leah’s many years in the arts field and Channing’s medical experience, they use their distinctive perspectives, through fine art & ceramics, to transform environments into spaces that nourish inspiration, because genuine, passionate people can change the world.
Number 1 brand in America for a reason. Skutt.com
For all your ceramic needs go to Georgies.com
What is the nature of a good question?
Leah: It made me think as you were talking and giving your experience I was thinking the reason that people really enjoy talking to you is because you care. And I was thinking that also helps to ask a really good question..I am not saying people who don’t ask good questions don’t care, of course,…but I am just saying if you meditate with me I am actually quite shy but I will sit and meditate on what this person does and when I find when I really care about what they are doing it helps me come up with better questions. Questions from the heart. I feel like that’s what you are doing when you ask questions. Even on this interview, you are asking things you really care about and you really care about the people you are talking to too. So I think that when you ask questions like that people realize, Oh he really wants to get to know me and he’s enjoying the conversation and he cares about some of the things I care about and that I am talking about, and it makes the person feel good. So I think that is why your questions are really good and I think that is what we try to do when we prepare for our interviews as podcasters.
Channing: And when you think about using questions you can arouse and maintain the interest of the people that you are actually speaking to. So sometimes what we will do is we will ask rhetorical questions that kind of like stimulate a mental response to people. It kind of gives then a little bit of curiosity. So yeah, definitely, asking questions is really essential to the conversation. And I was thinking about, especially in this, it helps people to really reason on a subject, just like you were saying earlier, What if people don’t get it? What if they don’t get that art actually helps people? When we use key questions to really help draw them up it helps them to reason on a subject. I remember some of our interviews, before the interview the artist or the ceramicists totally disagreed with us but when we kept asking questions it really dug in deep to their heart and they would say, You know something, you are actually right. And they would agree with us at the end of the discussions. So yeah, using questions is essential.
I like to know things but in a conversation if you already know the answer it’s kind of pointless to ask the question, So is it okay to slip into just being ignorant when you are asking questions and not showing any form of, I know it all?
Leah: Our nieces and nephews listen to our podcast and so even though we may ask a question, like we don’t know the answer the reason is because we are trying to ask it in a way that would teach our nieces and nephews something so they can learn from the person that we are interviewing. So I think, of course, I think there are different ways in approaching how to ask that type of question, but I think it can be appropriate myself.
Channing: I totally agree with her.
Do you ever have a point where you ask a question and you already know what you want your person to say?
Channing: Yes. (Laughter) Like you have an ulterior motive, right? Yeah, definitely. Sometimes we can ask people questions that really get to their heart, like you already know the answer, but you really want the person to really reason in on the subject and actually come to their own conclusion and use their own research. So yeah, you can definitely do that.
Leah: Or like what we were talking about earlier, some creators don’t necessarily think what they do is very important. So sometimes what I do…I shouldn’t be letting out my secrets…but one thing I will do, I will try to ask their experience, When you did this public art what was the feedback that you got? So I try to help them think about details and I am hoping that as they talk about the details that maybe they can see how what they are doing has an impact on people. Sometimes it works about and sometimes not so much but still it’s fun.
Channing: And when you think about artists, artists have a really difficult time trying to describe their process or even trying to describe what they wanted to do in a particular art piece. We find that we have to be careful with using tactful questions.
Leah: Just sometimes, of course not all.
Channing: Yeah, that doesn’t embarrass them either.
There is a tendency to go straight for the facts, but the facts usually aren’t all that interesting. So how do you dig past the surface and get to the ulterior motive for the intentions behind the facts?
Leah: One of the things I try to do is I try to spark something with them emotionally where they are telling more of a story. So even though it may be presenting a fact or we ask a question and maybe it causes them to give us a fact then we try to ask them another question that helps them tell us a story that supports why they feel the way they do.
I have a real question that is the last question. How long of you guys been married?
Channing: About 21 years.
I want to know, what is your favorite date night?
Leah: Anywhere we are travelling. I feel like that is our favorite but what do you think our favorite is?
Channing: There is a really nice restaurant in downtown Echo Park, Pine and Crane. We just really enjoy going there. It is a Michelin rated restaurant and we enjoy a lot of their dishes. It’s like a little mom and pop restaurant but that is one of our favorite date nights.
Leah: So usually ones that involve food, basically.