Step 2: The Interviews

In July, I had the opportunity to interview residents of Singapore and mural artists. When I first went into the process, I thought it would be a straightforward discussion, and that my interviews would yield similar data. Surprisingly, it didn't--and boy, am I glad.
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To answer my primary research question, I am interviewing residents, artists, and curators from Singapore to get their perception of the function, impact, and content of murals as they have progressed from its beginning days, to now when Singapore has experienced rapid globalization, which has inspired its goal to be a global city for the arts. 

When I started the interviews, I told myself to be ready to hear different and contradictory answers, but in the back of my head, I still felt like my interviews would yield similar data. I think this feeling comes from fear of being "wrong" or having a contrasting opinion in research. But if there's anything I've learned in this process, it is okay for the process to prove this outcome. Research, beyond educating a broader audience, is also about fostering discussion between people with diverse backgrounds. While some of my resident interviews opposed my argument, I realize that this opens up more opportunities to not only make my argument more concise but also to acknowledge and discuss the logic of each viewpoint.

I've also learned that doing interviews can be a very daunting experience. Talking to someone with whom you have only corresponded virtually removes that email wall that I will confess, I became very comfortable sitting behind. The key I've learned from these interviews is to make it a conversation, and actively engage and integrate your questioning with the interviewee so it doesn't feel like an interrogation. I realized that when I implemented this in my interviewing practice, the conversations I had with some artists and residents were incredibly insightful and enjoyable-- so much so that I spent time conversing with an artist for nearly two hours because they were so interested in my research, and I was interested in their philosophy on Singapore's mural art. 

However, this doesn't mean that ALL interviews you do will be as insightful and mind-opening. Sometimes the energy you put out doesn't get reflected, but it is necessary to keep going with the natural progression of the interview. Either way, the experience will offer some insights to your research, and if not, your professional development. 

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