An Artist Interview: Ray Sumser

Interview, Lifestyle

Over the weekend, my friend Joy from Minneapolis was visiting me. It was so wonderful to see a familiar face in the city. We had so much fun trying new foods and going to places I haven’t been to yet. We visited the Chelsea Market and there happened to be a mini-art fair going on. Suddenly I found myself in an intriguing artist discussion. It was like a perfect “podcast” moment.

Ray Sumser is a cartoonist and shared with me a little of his story. I gleaned the following points of inspiration.

The Artists Way of Life

When Ray first started out, he forced his income to be all from his work. How disciplined of him. At first he lived in a very tiny room where the bed barely fit and slowly he worked his way up to a more comfortable living situation. That was very inspiring. I think everyone needs to find that fire to have under their butt so that they stay driven. Here he is ten years later and his lifestyle is completely sustainable by his artwork.

Finding your community. 

I asked him where he found his network of people who want to pay him for his work. The burning question in my mind for the past month! He said that he is a musician and meets many people through performing. This got me thinking about what my community could be. Still figuring that out but yet again my answer is that I need to find out myself. No two artists paths are the same. None.

One Artists Success 

He told me a story of Picasso and how he went to restaurants with all of his friends. Picasso would order the entire menu and then sign the check big and fancy. The staff at the restaurant refused to cash the check since his signature (autograph rather) was so valuable so he was never charged for eating out.

Wow, what a place to have arrived. You are not only alive to see the success of your art but you also reap the benefits of being known.

I didn’t choose the artist life, the artist life chose me

Is there something that you’ve always loved to do but have avoided it for some reason? For Ray, he was a cartoonist in highschool but dismissed it and decided to study other art mediums in college. Once he finished college, he realized he couldn’t avoid his true passion and love anymore. For me, that was photography. In highschool, I fell in love with it but ignored it after a while. It was refreshing to empathize our surrender to our talents. Sometimes our art chooses us and we must choose it in return.

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