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Meet Gay Summer Rick

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gay Summer Rick.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Gay Summer. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As far back as I can remember I have always identified with artists. Growing up in a creative center, New York, I was always surrounded by artists, and the role models in my world, for the most part, made a life for themselves in the arts and sciences. Creativity, invention, discovery just seemed natural to me.

Fast forward through a creative childhood, I pursued formal education in the arts with some science thrown in because I found it fascinating, and I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The harsh reality hit me a couple of years after graduating. No more scholarships and grants – I had to make a solid living. After a couple of years of just getting by, I decided to pursue a Masters degree in Business Administration and work in the science field, which I also loved, while maintaining my art practice.

Consumed by expanding global roles in the biotech industry, albeit truly fascinating and stimulating, my art practice shrank dramatically. Then, totally frustrated with the lack of creative outlet, one evening over dinner with one of my brothers I said, I can’t live without it anymore. I need to create. He just looked at me and said, “So, do it.” Funny how that simple catalyst changed my perspective. So, after that I made it work doing both for about 10 years. Didn’t get much sleep, but it filled the creative void.

My work began to sell fairly soon after jumping back into the arts. I was able to apply my business degree and experience working in the corporate world into managing my art business. I ultimately shifted to primarily focus on my art practice and art business.

Based in Los Angeles, now a fast-growing art center, I observed the behaviors of successful artists, researched outlets for selling art, both traditional and novel, and wrote a formal business plan. I followed that plan and made it work.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
For me, finding a balance has always been a challenge. When I worked in corporate and also had my art practice, as I mentioned, I didn’t get enough sleep. Those were crazy times, and I am happy to have a more normal schedule. But, what really is a normal schedule for an artist? There is the time to think, create, produce work, and run the business end of things. It takes a lot of time! I do something related to my art practice or business just about every day, but that’s what it takes right now to make it all work and I’m okay with that.

Another challenge for me was to figure out how to create and sell enough work to meet my financial objectives. Employing the process that I do, it could take 2 to 3 months to create a painting. I had to figure out how to work on quite a few paintings at a time for the numbers to work out. I don’t compromise on quality and I create the work myself, so it is an ongoing challenge, but it’s working.

I rely heavily on a small number of galleries to sell my paintings. I find that a gallery relationship is a kind of like a marriage and that marriage takes trust and respect, good communication, a clear understanding of objectives, shared values, and ongoing nurturing. I would put “finding the right partners” into the “challenging” category. It isn’t an easy task. I’m happy to have my work with a few galleries with whom I have long-term relationships. I would like to establish a few more to expand my presence in other key markets around the world.

I’d like for it to happen sooner rather than later, but I take these relationships very seriously and we need to make sure we get it right so that everyone, and by everyone, I mean artist, gallery, and art collector, is happy.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My business, which is primarily my art practice, currently revolves around painting. I capture the unexpected beauty in commonplace elements within the urban landscape. The paintings describe a quiet vibration of life where cities meet the sea. It’s kind of dreamlike, yet familiar. You may have been there; you are there.

Having spent most of my life in New York and Los Angeles, these two cities feature prominently in my work. I love to travel and do paint other places, usually places where the urban landscape ends and the sea begins. Last week I was in New York for the opening of a gallery exhibition. Nearly every person who stopped to talk about my paintings used the words “luminous” and “calm”. There’s something about the atmosphere by the water. I’m drawn to it.

Environmentalism is important to me, and I strive to be a good steward of the environment in my art practice. About 10 years ago I started painting with palette knives. No brushes, nothing to clean up. This process ultimately allows me to use all of the oil paint that comes out of the tubes, and aside from protective gloves almost nothing from my studio goes to landfill, nothing goes into the water. I’m happy about that!

One of the things that makes me feel particularly good about what I do is that the work isn’t about me. It’s about you, the viewer. If I can give you a calm moment or transport you to a place where you forget where you are and just breathe, well, that’s golden.

What were you like growing up?
When I was very young, my mother would park me at the local corner lunch counter while she went to the market. It was there that I developed an unlikely friendship with an elderly gentleman who was an artist and architect. My family quickly recognized how special he was, and warmly embraced this interesting man.

We often visited with him in his home. It was like visiting a museum – paintings, drawings, sculpture, and books everywhere. His small yard was filled with magic – bits of broken tile, colored glass, wildflowers, and a cat. This man had such a strong influence on the way I looked at objects, color, and light. It helped establish the foundation for my interest in exploring a creative path. I feel very lucky to have had that experience so early in life.

I also feel extremely fortunate to have grown up where I did, in New York, and then spend many years in Los Angeles. Two diverse, crazy busy, dynamic cultural hubs. It’s kind of funny, but I have also sought refuge from these places by heading up to the roof. In New York, I would climb up on the roof and watch the glow of the city lights in the night sky. In LA I stand on the roof deck off my studio and look out at the ocean and the dynamic sky. Some of my greatest inspiration has come from these rooftop moments.

I continue to count my blessings for not only being part of a family of talented artists but also being surrounded by a lot of bright, creative friends. I am constantly learning and applying lessons from exposure and new experiences.

Pretty lucky, I’d say.

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