Self taught artist, Elizabeth Sutton, has made her mark on the New York pop art scene in only a little over a year. When asked why she started making art, she said it came from a practical place. “I wanted to be more intellectually challenged, financially independent and have something that is entirely my own.” Sutton, who graduated with honors from Baruch College with degrees in business administration and marketing, infuses her art with the same precision and character that shape her as a person. “I am a bit obsessive. Once I start something, I must finish it. This need to be exacting penetrates many of my pieces.” Sutton’s art is geometric yet whimsical. She is a master of pop color and believes that precision leads to beauty. This embrace of her natural traits and aesthetic instincts lends a refreshing tone to her pop art pieces.
Sutton started as a casual artist. “I made a few pieces for my home. I wasn’t thinking bigger picture in the beginning” she said. Her work started receiving attention when she posted one of her first paintings on Instagram. She had hung the artwork in her son’s nursery and, within a few days, she had requests from friends and strangers to make more art. She also hung her work around her Upper East Side apartment, inviting more requests for commissions. “Cooking gourmet meals twice a day was one of my creative outlets for a long time” said Sutton. “Sometimes, friends would attend these meals and notice my artwork. Many of them would inevitably ask if I was willing to do a piece for them.” Soon, she was making gifts and being commissioned. The attention grew from there. “In the beginning, when a piece was to be delivered to a friend or client, it might sit in the lobby with the doorman for a few minutes. Building residents were asking where the painting was from and if I was willing to do a piece for them. I was getting requests to make pieces after five minutes of the painting sitting there and so I knew I had something special” said Sutton.
When asked what her work life balance is, she laughed. “Some days it’s more personal, some days it’s more life. Some days you just don’t sleep.” Working 70 hour weeks in her Long Island City studio is standard for Sutton, a mother of two. When asked about her inspirations, Sutton replied confidently. “I love artists such as Deborah Katz, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, but the inspiration comes from within, from my own thoughts. I love color and am constantly inspired by new patterns.” Sutton employs the use of knives and tape to keep her work exacting, yet she allows her natural ideas of beauty to guide her pieces. “There is beauty in precision. But I also work intuitively. Aside from my Icon pieces, I don’t plan how a piece will turn out.”
Sutton has many styles of work. Her signature pieces are her butterflies – sparkly, colorful and fun, they are a favorite for enlivening any room. Her geometric abstractions and icons are also bestsellers and are getting recognition amongst collectors and celebrities. They are exacting and complex, the array of colors or images leading the viewer on a journey around her canvases. Both her butterflies and her geometric works are purely from personal inspiration while her Icon series, in which she reimagines famous faces, employs a more studied and preemptive route. “My Icon pieces are more planned out. I use a computer program to figure out the best angles and then I decide on colors.” While Sutton does many pieces for general exhibition, she is often busy creating pieces for clients. “A lot of my work is custom. I like listening to my clients and seeing what and who they like. If you like James Bond or Twiggy, I can make an Icon piece that you will love.”
One of Sutton’s biggest breaks came when she was on vacation with her family. Ryan Serhant of Million Dollar Listing had seen her work and asked if she could create a few pieces to help stage a new development in TriBeCa. “There I was, sitting in Costa Rica, planning how to get these paintings to Ryan within two weeks. It was a big deal. Thankfully, I pulled it off” said Sutton.
When asked how she markets herself, she assured this author that she networks relentlessly as well as receives orders simply by posting to Instagram. “People see my work and reach out, asking if I can make them a piece. Sometimes it is very natural, other times it’s a hustle” said Sutton. When asked about growing her business, she responded as an artist with a degree in business and marketing would. “I want to penetrate the market more. I paint, I network, I am very busy. I just made 4 new hires to help with the expansion of my business.” When asked about her connection with Exceed, Sutton said, “Exceed is a great organization that has a lot to offer someone like me. They have great contacts and supporters and I look forward to working with them.”
Earlier this year, Sutton participated in the 2017 Architectural Digest Design Show and donated artworks to the 92nd Street Y’s Annual Fundraiser as well as Lenox Health Greenwich Village. Sutton hopes to soon expand into more restaurants and hotels, with an upcoming installation at Michelin-starred Sushi of Gari’s 46th Street location. Sutton is also in the process of creating custom artwork for an in-store display at Bergdorf Goodman for Bari Lynn. Her work is currently available online at ElizabethSuttonCollection.com and is on display at Beautique, next door to the famed Paris Theatre.