Interview with Cover Artist Sunny Ray

July 21, 2016

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Russell Dickerson has been a published illustrator and designer since the previous millennium, creating works for many genre publications and authors. He has also written many articles for various organizations in that time including Apex.

This month’s Apex Magazine cover artist is Sunny Ray, a multifaceted artist working in digital painting and illustration. Many of her pieces are driven by the stories that she loves to write, leading to new paintings and animations. “The Fire,” this month’s Apex cover art, is part of a concept for a story about a boy who can use the sky like a touchscreen.

The Fire

APEX MAGAZINE: On the DeviantArt page for “The Fire,” the first comment makes a great point about people staring at their devices these days, adding “we should be looking up, not down.” With films like Interstellar offering similar advice, do you hope that someone seeing this piece will be inspired to try something bold? How do you see your work helping others to take a bigger step into new things?

SUNNY RAY: I would like to think it would inspire people to try something bold! I think people may interpret it differently than I do, however, as the basis of the message in my mind as I was painting it is if you are going to go out, you might as well do it with a bang, like a brilliant sunset before the dark. We’re only here for a short time, so we might as well go out bright and loud. Either way people interpret this painting, whether it to be looking up and reaching for the stars, or if they interpret it as going out with a bang, I can see this work pushing people to ignore the limits and go the distance!

AM: With being a student of both design and animation, does creating a piece like “Breathing Galaxies” start with the focus on the climactic image, or planning the overall animation and message? How might the message of a piece change over the time the animation takes to run its course, and how does the art style versus the design technique influence that?

SR: To be honest, that piece only really started because I saw a picture of the subject (danisnotonfire) that I really wanted to recreate in an aesthetic style. This was a test of my abilities to not only recreate realism from a photograph but to also add an expectant element of animation in a still imagery. But, usually if I am going to start an animation like that, I have an idea for the image I want to create, then I will play around and try different things with the animation. The message might change depending on the animation or the animation furthers the message. This piece you only see the message because of the animation.

AM: In the descriptions of a few of your DeviantArt pieces, you mention having a rough week. That’s something many artists and creators, even in my own personal experience, work through seemingly more than the general public. Does creating new art help you work through any life issues? Are the colors you choose or the style you are creating with affected by your emotions as you work?

Monica dream by Sunny Ray copy

SR: Yes, definitely, making art has helped me through my struggle against life. Of course the only reason I have the experience and the passion for art was because of my weakest moments. It’s one of my biggest comforts that if everything were to go south, I’d know I’d at least have my art and stories there in the end. For me, however, I don’t think my style or the colors I choose are really affected by my emotions as much as the concept of the piece. I have color schemes that I’m partial to, like, I prefer a warmer palette over cool colors.

AM: As a student, you have to often follow particular assignments and plans. When you work on personal pieces that don’t have that structure, do you approach the ideas any differently? Do you prefer the openness of your own choices, the rigidness of a structured assignment, or a bit of both?

SR: I jump right into personal projects. It could be three in the morning and if an idea hits me that I like then I will start then and there and work through the night on it. Unfortunately, I do not have quite the same vigor when it comes to my assignments usually because I don’t have the openness of the choice. In one of my classes, we were assigned to create a twenty-page magazine featuring articles, ads, and visuals in a group. However, my whole group neglected to show up for class so my teacher let me do the magazine on my own per request. While all the other groups struggled with the rigidity of having to agree on a topic and self-create all the content within the time frame, I flew through that assignment faster than any other assignment because while there were requirements I had to fulfill, I got to make all the choices while the other groups had to adhere to their group decisions.

AM:  On the DeviantArt page for your beautiful piece “Fallen Angel,” you mention your improvement in painting wings. When you look at your own works, do you look at them more from the aspect of the vision and content, or the techniques that you used to create them? Are there interpretations or critiques of your pieces from others that you wouldn’t have expected?

Fallen Angel by Sunny Ray

SR: When I look at my work, I think I see both. Sometimes I look back on them to see where the vision and contents came from while other times I will look back to see my technique and how I can improve in future works. I think to use old works as references for future pieces. My friends and followers have told me that my art inspires them, which is something I never had expected my art to be able to do. Other than that, however, I haven’t gotten any interpretations or critiques that I wouldn’t have expected, or none that come to mind.

Sunny Ray

Sunny Ray is studying web design and animation, and plans to continue painting and personal art projects. She also has several stories and books planned for the future, including more about the boy from this month’s cover. To see more of her work, visit and

© Russell Dickerson


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