Story Of A Traveller – The Travelling Artist by SUMS
I met SUMS in a cosy hostel in Hanoi called See You at Lily’s. He’s not your regular guy, who you would think to ditch his desk in the TV and Film Industry; he left his job at the age of 40. Packed his backpack and left Ireland with the story of I quit my job to travel the world. However, other than the mission of visiting and opening up the beauty of the world before his eyes, he’s on the road for another reason; To visit each country, paint a wall and leave his own mark.
SUMS is now cruising the world of travelling for the past 7 months. His initial plan is to travel for a year, but it all depends if he will bump into something interesting and settle somewhere for a while.
What is your name, age and where are you from?
I’m SUMS, 41 years old from Drogheda, Ireland.
What made you decide to go travelling?
I had a 20-year career in visual effects for TV and Film until I got to the point where I wanted to pursue my career as an artist. I also needed a time out to get back to the basics, and what better way than to travel the world and soak in all the worldly cultures and experiences. I’ve always wanted to paint murals in every country I visit.
What do you love about travelling?
I love everything; different countries, cultures, people, and nature. Especially, travelling as an artist led me to much different life changing experiences. The people I met, the places I’ve seen, the places I’ve painted; most of these places aren’t on the tourist map. Thus, I get more of an inside look into the real life and people from different countries and cultures.
These kinds of experiences are priceless, and I am grateful I have my art that I can give to people and leave my mark behind. Before I thought to have the big job and money made me happy, but when you see people in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, living on practically nothing, poorer than poor, yet they can smile and laugh, it kind of put life in perspective, that we don’t need all the material things we tend to gather around us.
In your opinion, what is the worst part of travelling?
I don’t think there are any bad parts about travelling. The first time I went travelling was 13 years ago, I was a lot younger and more wary and unsure of places I’d never been to.
This time, I feel, if you are more relaxed and realised that not every country works the same as your own country, therefore patience can be your greatest asset. I don’t really have a plan, like how long I should spend in one place or try to have every date worked out. I see people whizzing through countries in 2 weeks, I wonder how can they possibly take it all in. It’s not all a photo opportunity, as you miss the most important parts by just experiencing life.
One thing that does annoy me is when I see fellow travellers getting annoyed at the local people because the food might be a bit different, the electricity went out, or the WiFi is down. In this case, just stay at home. I’ve been in SE Asia for 7 months now and I can’t rave about it enough. The people really make it one of the best places I’ve been to.
What makes your travelling style unique?
I’m travelling to explore the world and all its beauty. But my main thing is travelling as an artist. Having been painting for 28 years on walls around the world, I realised that I could use my skills to help fund my travels, and also have a totally different experience than the most.
It is mainly bars, hostels and restaurants I paint. This usually allows me to live for free, yet getting behind the scenes of the local people is the best part. I have met some really interesting people along the way, some are now my friends.
So far, I have painted in Thailand; Bangkok and Koh Tao, in Vietnam; Hanoi, Dong Hoi and Nha Trang, in Cambodia; Phnom Penh and Kampot, and Philippines (Manila) will be my next journey.
If you have a message to everyone who hasn’t travelled, what would it be?
Go travelling NOW.
What is your message to someone who would love to travel, but full of doubts?
Life is full of doubts, but travelling should never be a doubt. We get one chance on this planet, one opportunity, go for it. It will change you forever, in the best way imaginable.
What is your main goal of travelling?
To relax, take the world in and to paint as many countries as I can.
Do you have any tips to your co-travellers or people who are about to travel?
To quote the rapper Nas, “The World Is Yours…”
SUMS in the Mad Monkeys Hostel – Kampot and Phnom Penh, Cambodia
SUMS’ trademark is a knuckle with his name on it. Follow his journey as he turns a simple wall into a gorgeous form of art.
SUMS in Booze Cruise Sports Bar – Nha Trang
All photos by Sums
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