The Q&A: Rachell Sumpter

By Peggy Roalf   Monday May 14, 2018

Q: Originally from [where?] what are some of your favorite things about living and working in [your current locale]? 

A: I was born in Los Angeles and raised in the SF Bay area. I now live in Seattle, which retains a lot of its natural beauty, with many lush public park systems designed by Olmsted scattered throughout the city. In addition there are snow capped mountains and rainforests within two hours of downtown. Seattle is almost surrounded by both salt and fresh water; you can walk in almost any direction and run into water. The breezes are beautiful.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook?? 

A: Yes, I keep a sketchbook, an all purpose one. It is for making notes and comics as well as to-do lists, so many lists. 

Q: What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer

A: All of my personal work is created by hand and most of the illustration work is usually digital due to short turnarounds and ease of editing. 

Q: What is the most important item in your studio? 

A: Space, can space be an “item in your studio?” I don't know but if it is it is definitely something I cherish

Q: How do you know when the art is finished—or when to stop working on it? 

A: You just get a feeling when it works. Usually it’s good to have some time to let it rest and revisit.

Q: What was your favorite book as a child? 

A: Goggles by Ezra Jack Keats. Action! Drama! New York City! I loved that book, still do.

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read? 

A: The Power by Naomi Alderman, flipped some switches inside of me.

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose? 

A: Gouache, pencil is nice too. 

Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice? 

A: Having children, obviously, besides that, the natural world and politics. Not in a literal sense, more like all the moving parts. We let some monsters into our house and now we have to keep an eye on them, like playing chess.

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art? 

A: Seeing Kara Walkers exhibit in 1998 at SFMOMA was the moment I realized art could speak in relevant sentences to the lives we live right now. Her work involves history, storytelling and craft that is very deliberate and powerful. It changed the way I see myself, others and art. I am grateful for that.

Q: What was the strangest/most interesting assignment you've taken that has an important impact on your practice, and what changed through the process? 

A: They are all interesting! The last big gig with 72andsunny/dropbox was pretty interesting and fun. I realized that social media was 100% a thing and that how an artist/illustrator handles it will make or break them in the future. I don’t like that, but I’m glad to know. Good feelings/bad feeling's, what goes on the internet stays on the internet.

Q: What would be your last supper? 

A: King salmon. Anything spicy. Sushi. Although if it were really a “last supper” and I was about to be crucified, I think I’d opt for some fresh fruit with a lot of wine. Ha!

Rachell Sumpteris a painter and illustrator living in Seattle, Washington.Her client list includes, among others, The New York Times, Penguin Random House Books, McSweeneys, The Boston Globe, Harvard Divinity Magazine, Royal Ballet, O Magazine, University of British Columbia.

She also is an illustration professor, shows her work in galleries, teaches workshops at museums, enjoys reading comics, observing nature, listening to music and contemplating public art.



Upcoming solo show at Foley Gallery, with opening reception May 18 6-8pm. 59 Orchard Street New York, NY 10002 Info





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