Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Artfire Artisan Spotlight Interview October 2010

Please start by telling us a little about yourself and your studio.

My name is Kate Sumners and I am the artist behind Endless Sumners Art.  My mainstays are charcoal and pastel portraits of people and pets; I also love photography and watercolor painting.  My style is definitely realism and I love to put LOTS of detail in my work.  I'm 28 years old and live in Arizona with my husband Brandon and our two Italian Greyhound 'kids' Toby and Scout.  I love art, gardening, hiking, and the outdoors.

Where do you live and what is it like?

I was born and raised in Page, Arizona.  I am surrounded by some of the most striking and photogenic scenery in the world.  The desert Southwestern United States is one of the most sought after locations for many artists and photographers to come and create in. Monument Valley, Glen Canyon, Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, "the Wave" sandstone formation, all of these are just outside my front door.  The rugged, dramatic landscape looks to most like a scene out of a John Wayne movie.  To me, it looks like home. 

Where did you learn your medium?

I had one art teacher in high school in particular who really taught me to trust what I was seeing and then record it truthfully.  He tried his hardest to convince me that I could be a professional artist, but at the time I didn't have the self esteem to believe that I could make a living at it.  A few years after I had graduated, we ran into each other at the nursery I was working at.  I admitted that I hadn't done any painting or drawing in months and he showed up a few days later with a box of expensive art supplies.  He told me he was loaning them to me but there was a condition: I had to produce some artwork and bring it in to his class when I returned the supplies.  If he hadn't made that single gesture, I don't think I would be an artist today.  His encouragement and very direct guidance really made me think maybe I did have some talent and should follow through.  Sadly, I lost contact with him when he moved shortly after that and he doesn't know what an impact he had on me, or even that I am a professional artist now.  I would love to find him and thank him someday.  Mr. Shaw, where ever you are, I'm living the dream. 

What are your goals with your ArtFire studio?

Currently I find most of my portrait clients in person.  Although it is wonderful to meet my subjects in person to really get a sense of their personality, I live in a small and extremely isolated area.  The nearest sizable communities are at least two hours away!  I want to grow my online presence so that I don't have to travel to find clients when I've exhausted the possibilities for expansion in my small town.  The less of my profit I pour down the gas tank, the better!

How did you come to selling online?

In February 2009 I lost my day job to the struggling economy when my banking position was eliminated.  Two months before, two acquaintances had seen my art and asked if I would create some custom pieces for them.  With this fresh in my mind, I decided if I was ever going to try and make a living doing art, this was it!  I started networking and marketing myself as a portrait artist but soon found my community is too small to support a portrait artist on its own.  I knew that I had to find an audience online if I was going to be able to keep doing what I loved.  Artfire is a great site because of all of the emphasis placed on reaching the entire Internet community and not just one web site's shoppers. 

What is the best piece of advice you can give other artists?

Joseph Chilton Pearce is credited with saying "To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." In the past, fear really held me back.  Fear that I wouldn't be good enough, successful, profitable.  But the whole beauty of art is that there is no right or wrong, no accounting for taste.  If you love what you do, if you pour your heart into it and give it your all, someone else will love it too.  Never let fear hold you back. 

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