- Where are you from and where do you reside?
- I was born in Manhattan and live in North Salem, NY
- How long did you live in Manhattan?
- I lived in Manhattan for a short while in the beginning and then came back to live there for 17 years. I’m not sure if Manhattan is essential to who I am – but it has influenced me. We’re all a product of our environment and for many of my ‘young adult’ years Manhattan was that environment.
- When you leave the studio, where is your favorite place in the nearby?
- Creating art in a studio is voluntary isolation. Yes, it’s thrilling and stimulating but it’s just you, the canvas, and the studio. So – after spending hours by myself inside, I like to be with anywhere outside with my kids.
- What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
- Naming my pieces! It’s always a challenge to put a ‘label’ on a piece.
- So how do you name your pieces? Some titles are evident in the work, others not so much.
- Sometimes I name a piece to serve as a verbal reminder of the visual – to make it kind of ‘sticky’. Here We Go USA! is a good example of that approach. Other times the name picks up where the art left off, which hopefully gives the work a broader meaning and tone. For example, Call of the Wild gives the piece a tone and feeling that would be very different than if I named it Here Doggy, Doggy.
But in the end, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, right?
- Are there any aspects of your process that are left to chance?
- I plan out all of my pieces – but the actual execution of the art is spontaneous, stream of consciousness, and left to chance.
- How important is spontaneity in your art?
- Very. It’s a critical element that makes my work distinctive and I personally enjoy the spontaneity.
- How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
- I’ve strived to make my work simpler and simpler over the years. I think going forward I might evolve to add a little more detail. But – I’m not sure if I’ll be happy with the result. We’ll see.
- What was your work like before? Did you use color or modeling, or have you always been using strictly contour lines?
- I’ve always stayed loyal to the line. That said, I am working on evolving the work to include color – but in a minimal way. I have been thinking long and hard about color and my lines. So long that some people have become impatient with me.
I’ve always stayed loyal to the line.
— Sayan Ray
- What are some themes you find recurring in your pieces, intentional or not?
- So far I’ve kept my work fairly loose and haven’t allowed my work to be closely associated with any specific themes or motifs.
- How do the different elements of line and contour come together in your works?
- Well my work is all line, shape, form, contour, etc. and I try to achieve a kind of harmonious balance in my work. There are times when I intentionally experiment with discord or an imbalanced look – but I’m usually not satisfied with the result.
- So harmony is important to your work? Sounds like a theme.
- It does! Ok – harmony it is then.
- Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?
- I’m inspired by artists who work hard and are dedicated to their work – whether they are musicians, actors, or writers – I take inspiration from all of them.
- Speaking of non-visual artists, do you take inspiration from music or literature?
- Absolutely. In fact, many of my pieces are named after books and songs like Call of the Wild (Jack London), Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday), and Well, You Needn’t (Thelonious Monk).
- How has your day job influenced your work/practice?
- I work as a Creative Director at an advertising agency in NYC so my day job has been very influential. We are always trying to get our message through quickly and efficiently and I guess I try to do that in my personal work as well.
There are times when I intentionally experiment with discord or an imbalanced look – but I’m usually not satisfied with the result.
— Sayan Ray
- Is there an object in your studio that you’ve always had? Or is there anything in your studio right now that you enjoy looking at, artwork or otherwise?
- No. I deliberately keep my studio empty of anything that doesn’t have to do with my art. The space is clean and spare – like my work.
- What’s next for you?
- I just bought a house in the country in Westchester and I would love to build a studio barn in the pasture behind the house.
- Very Jackson Pollock. Have you ever made it out to the Pollock-Krasner house in Long Island?
- I haven’t but I really should. Over the years I’ve read about the house and seen so many great pictures of it. It takes you back to a time when artists really struggled to remain viable. Jackson Pollock painted in that barn in the winter months with no heat.
By comparison – if the wifi in my studio doesn’t work I get agitated.