THE ART PLUG EDITORIAL: ELIZABETH SUTTON
7 DAYS OF POSITIVITY WITH ELIZABETH SUTTON
BY JOHN OLDANI - MAY 29, 2018
Over the weekend, Elizabeth Sutton Collection in collaboration with Marcel Katz and The Art Plug announced a release of seven limited edition prints promoting self-awareness, with partial proceeds to benefit Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The seven different prints will represent the days of the week, each one conveying a different emotion paired with the appropriate color. A positive title will accompany each print describing the emotion of both the color and day.
“My brand is super positive,” Elizabeth Sutton said. “I’m only choosing positive words to go along with the color.”
These prints are meant to be versatile; able to be switched out in any room on any day of the week, providing you with a positive change of scenery in your home or office. Often the key to a productive week is maintaining an upbeat outlook while visualizing success. These prints aim to harness that positivity with vivid color alongside relevant attributes.
Each print comes in two sizes (12x12 inches and 24x24 inches) and will be available for 7 days throughout the next 8 weeks starting on June 3rd at www.monsieurmarcel.net.
About Elizabeth Sutton
Elizabeth Sutton is a visual artist that stormed the scene with her vibrant work reflective of her personality and strong attention to detail. Her paintings are free spirited in nature, yet methodical in their technique, blending mathematical proportions with color and energy. “My art is extremely reflective of my personality,” Sutton said. “It is what I consider ‘happy art’, full of color and extremely meticulous.”
Once she found her knack, Sutton’s work ethic quickly made her a force in the industry. “October 2015 is the first time I picked up a paintbrush,” she said. “January 29, 2016, is when I received a call from Million Dollar Listing’s, Ryan Serhant, who asked me to stage one of his new luxury developments with artwork. That’s when I knew that art would be my new career and I really started to hustle.”
Sutton’s hustle became even more apparent when she started designing an entire collection of home accessories and décor while planning a fundraiser for Art Start, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged youth nurture their creativity with the help of local educators and artists. “I believe that doing acts of kindness are what make us happy and confident as individuals,” Sutton said.
Philanthropy links seamlessly with Sutton’s brand, and organizations like MADD are extremely important to her. She created a brand potent with vivid colors and images, drawing inspiration from both the positive and negative experiences in her life. Her spirited personality and uncanny motivation give her a leg up in an industry filled with talented artists, but her work stands out - filling the viewer with genuine emotion while lighting up any room they are placed in.
Learn more about her story and work in her in-depth conversation with The Art Plug:
What inspires you to be so driven in your craft? How long would you say you've been building your brand?
I am extremely ambitious. I started to work at a time in my life when I was going through some very difficult and serious struggles including severe financial loss, illness and ultimately death of my father-in-law, a miscarriage, and a crumbling marriage. I had lost my happiness for years and I was trying to get it back. I realized I wouldn’t be able to do so unless I became financially independent, and having just started my career, I was nowhere near that situation yet. I painted throughout my entire pregnancy with my second child (some nights until 2-3am), up until the day I gave birth, and was working while in labor and responding to emails before I even got discharged. I left my ex when my baby was three weeks old. I was not in any financial position to leave and I knew I’d be walking away from financial benefits in order to keep an amicable relationship with my ex for the sake of my children, as they were my number one priority. That’s when my hustle became exponential. I started designing an entire collection of home accessories and décor behind the scenes, planned a fundraiser for Art Start to get some good vibes back into my life, did a number of brand collaborations including one for Bari Lynn Accessories that got picked up by Saks, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, and Harrods, and I opened my own pop up gallery in the West Village.
Then I experienced what I consider to be the worst tragedy in my life and the most difficult obstacle to overcome both personally and professionally. On December 10, 2017, I lost my dear friend and art assistant in a tragic accident on the last night of Art Basel in Miami. Following my birthday celebration at the Wynwood Hustle Chic Pop Up Gallery, my two art assistants, Juan Salazar and Pedro Valerino, were hit by another car while my car was parked on the shoulder of the highway. Valerino suffered serious injuries, and Juan Salazar, may he rest in peace, lost his life two days later and left behind a toddler daughter and a widow. My life and business were in a very precarious state and at the time I did not see any light ahead. I didn’t realize it until a few days ago, but I think the accident pushed me to work harder than ever. The feeling that I need to make him proud, that I need to do whatever I can to take care of my team, who stand by my side day and night supporting my hustle, but mostly what drives me every single day are my two beautiful, happy, sweet, brilliant children – the desire the show them my strength, work ethic, determination, but also to teach them empathy, positivity, passion, love and gratitude.
Your art has versatility. You can switch different pieces out - different colors/images, and it will change the mood of the room completely. Was this versatility intentional or did your style come naturally?
When I first began my career, I considered my artwork to be more decorative – I’d paint works that were vibrant in color (because to me, color equates to happiness) that would uplift the spirit of the space and home it lived in. I’m a very aesthetic individual and I personally like when artwork compliments the style and vibe of the room, so I focused on creating works that were versatile. And as I honed my technical skills, my artwork became more detailed, more involved, and more personally tied to my life. I used my work to heal many pains I’ve experienced and to express many emotions, but I still never lost sense of versatility when it came to color and appeal. I want as many people to relate to my work as possible. Now, I paint my own photographs and the photos I choose to paint are moments that are very striking to me. I created one of my latest bodies of work, the ‘Love Series’, after falling in love for the first time post-divorce. I think you can see a true evolution of my artwork, for the better.
Part of the proceeds will go to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, why exactly was this organization chosen?
As I mentioned, I lost my dear friend and art assistant, Juan Salazar, this past December, during my Hustle Chic Pop Up in Wynwood for Art Basel – also when I met Marcel. On the last night of the fair, I held a birthday celebration in my gallery. Juan and Pedro, my assistants, had driven my artwork down from NYC to Miami in my car earlier in the week. I had launched an initiative called Hustle Chic, which essentially encourages collaboration instead of competition. Juan and Pedro helped me with everything – not just my artwork. They helped me get through my divorce, which was, at the time, the most challenging moment of my life. As a thank you, and in true Hustle Chic fashion, I offered them the opportunity to hang their artworks in my gallery – I gave them wall space as well as VIP passes to all the fairs – and told them to go network and bring clients back to the gallery (Backstory – Juan and Pedro are both talented artists in their own right, but speak no English and therefore have trouble selling and promoting their work.). We were all having such an amazing first Art Basel experience, and then tragedy struck. At 2:40am, Juan and Pedro left my gallery to drive home for the night.
The plan was this – I was flying home at 5:30am to get back to my kids, and the guys were supposed to dismantle all the artwork the following day and drive back to NYC. You know that saying ‘Man plans, God laughs’? At 3:20am, as I was literally turning the key to the door so I could walk to my Uber and head to the airport, I got a call that my car was in an accident. I thought they had accidentally pressed the SOS button. Two minutes later, I got another call – my car was in a serious accident. I’m going to spare the details of what followed, but essentially, my car was pulled over on the shoulder of I-95 and was hit as a speeding rate. My car was totaled, my two assistants were rushed to separate trauma units, and Juan Salazar did not survive. My entire life, I’ve been vehemently opposed to drinking and driving. I have an ex who would do it all the time and I’d tell him to pull over and I’d go pick him up. In fact, the last conversation I ever had with Juan was asking him how he planned on getting home, as there was champagne at the celebration, and he was driving my car. He told me he had one glass of champagne much earlier in the night and he was completely safe to drive. Juan was always responsible. I used my best judgment to assess, and he seemed totally fine. When I arrived at the scene of the accident, the officers were completely obnoxious and insensitive. When I arrived at the trauma unit, I asked the officer if they were checking the blood alcohol levels of both drivers and he said no. I was alone and in a state of shock – I didn’t exactly know what to do in that moment. I wish I had pushed the officer, because to this day, I am left without answers. Though nothing was ever confirmed, it is my personal belief that somehow alcohol was involved in this accident. Nobody hits a parked car at that speeding rate if you are paying attention to the road. I include philanthropy in almost every business endeavor that I pursue, and I always try to align the specific endeavor with a cause that makes sense. My attorney who helped me with the accident had actually mentioned to me, the day before we reached out, that he was involved with MADD. And then it clicked – Marcel and I needed to do it. Miami is still a very difficult place for me to be, and I think aligning myself with MADD will help my healing process.
What are some other causes you have contributed to?
Throughout my life, I’ve been involved in various organizations – Chai Lifeline and Migdal Ohr were at the top of my list. I did respite volunteering for Chai Lifeline at Sloan Kettering Hospital before I had a career. When I was going through my divorce and was in a bad place, I knew I needed to do charity. I spent 3 months of my life, alongside party planner Michelle Farber, planning a fundraiser for Art Start, an organization that provides creative therapy via art, music, and dance, to at-risk teens and homeless youth in NYC shelters. Together, we raised over $35,000 and tons of awareness for the organization. Immediately following the accident, I created a GoFundMe campaign to help raise urgent funds for Pedro, who was in critical condition in the hospital and was unable to work for a month, and for Juan’s family back in Cuba.
Through my social media, my amazing and supportive Instafam, we raised over $38,000. I had never felt more supported in my entire life. I don’t think I would’ve been able to resume my life again had I not done whatever I could do to try and help, though nothing could ever bring Juan back. I am also doing a collaboration with international coffee and juice chain, Joe & The Juice, in which we will be raising more funds for both Art Start and Juan’s family through the sale of a unique print I am creating for the collaboration. As I am now releasing my first-ever limited edition prints, also involving philanthropy – MADD. I hope we sell, sell, sell so we can raise as many funds as possible. And lastly, I will also be donating 10% of proceeds from the sale of ‘Angel Watching Over Me’ to Juan’s family. ‘Angel Watching Over Me’, which I renamed after the accident, is one of the last artworks I ever created with Juan - I will never sell it – but I hope the sale of these prints can generate some much needed funds for his family back in Cuba, making sure his daughter is forever taken care of is top priority.