Sayan Ray

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?

Here We Go USA

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.

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