Suns draws inspiration from a wide-range of sources. He says, “I always was engaged by cartoonists and book illustrators: Dr. Seuss, John R. Dilworth, Frank Frazetta, Shel Silverstein, Aaron Mcgruder, Butch Hartman, and countless graffiti artists. I used to watch trains pass on my grandmother’s porch just for inspiration. As I got older though, I started pulling any and everything from my environment.”
Cannabis has helped Suns become more relaxed about the creative process. It allows him to let natural creativity be his guide, rather than forcing his will onto a piece of art. He says, “I’ve become a lot more loose in my approach to a piece. It clears the anxiety of wondering if it’s gonna come out right. My worries are shed and I zone out in a creative trance. The piece may not come out how I wanted, but the experience is still gained.”
During the creative process, Suns’ thoughts follow an associative pattern focused on the subject of the piece: “I pretty much think of whatever I’m drawing. Say I was drawing a tree. My thoughts go something like, ‘tree … branches … leaves … roots …’ ” Rather than dwell on if he is “getting it right,” Suns shifts his focus on understanding his subject matter, finding that this leads him down the right path.
Suns values his independence, preferring to stand on his own rather than be associated with a particular group of artists. He says, “I’m selfish with the artistic spotlight and wouldn’t want to have my art mainly known about through a group of artists who truly don’t have anything to do with each other.” However, Suns does see value in collaborating with other artists, “with who you deem worthy of working with.”
Working with affordable, everyday materials (ballpoint pens, children’s watercolors, permanent markers, and ink) he believes that, “It ain’t the tool, but what you do with it that matters. It’s very possible (and common) to have a bunch of expensive equipment and still be a shitty artist.” He also highly enjoys incorporating poetry into his art.
Although Suns’ art career has been devoid of colossal mishaps, he has endured ups and downs: Exhibit hosts have canceled on him suddenly. Venue owners have found his art too edgy to exhibit. However, he has persevered and stayed true to his inner vision: “I’ve made all of the decisions regarding the art and have been doing exactly what I wanted since I started. I feel like the biggest mistake you could make is giving away your creative freedom.”
Elaborating on these lessons learned, he feels that artists should not be too influenced by the opinions of critics (even those of praise): Rather than be motivated solely by positive feedback, Suns lets his own passion for creativity dictate his output. He says, “I’m gonna make art regardless of sales, likes or even supplies. There have been times when I was too broke to get a sketchbook. So, I just drew on brown paper bags, receipts, envelopes, etc.”
Suns considers focusing on art rather than income or recognition the key to his version of success. He says, “Just letting people know that I make art—that knowledge goes a long way, and the more people that know of your existence, the more likely they are to consider you for art services.”
Suns advises other artists to hone their craft by simply practicing “over and over. If you like drawing circles, just keep drawing circles—and eventually you’ll develop some variation and complexity in your pieces.” Additionally, he recommends that artists don’t pigeonhole themselves into a particular style, but to “just create stuff that feels good to create. The skill will come with experience. I used to not want to mix my cartoon style with my graffiti style, but now I let the styles mingle and have been creating much more dynamic and original art.”
Ultimately, Suns believes that power lies in the spirit of the individual. He says, “The determination must come from within.”
Official site: cateal.wix.com/tealsuns