Elizabeth Sutton standing in a colorful doorway.

Among the vibrant works of art produced by Elizabeth Sutton (’11) is a painting of a vintage, big-finned Pontiac convertible cruising the boldly colored byways of Cuba. Its title: “Driving to New Destinations.”

In a sense, you might even say that’s the theme of Sutton’s life. Her unexpected career transition to an artist led to the creation of the enormously successful Elizabeth Sutton Collection, a luxury fine art and design company that offers Pop Art–style paintings, prints, home décor, and fashion accessories.

But back in 2015, creating an art business was not at the top of Sutton’s mind. She had just experienced a number of personal and financial setbacks and had not yet made a career for herself despite some earlier work in marketing. She was hungry to launch a new chapter.

Then, what she calls “a happy accident” occurred. Her longtime love for arts and crafts led her to create some wildly colored geometric acrylic paintings while renovating her son’s nursery. Posting photos of the designs to Instagram, the self-taught artist immediately received requests from followers to create custom paintings for them.

Then came a game changer in 2016: real-estate broker Ryan Serhant, the star of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing, featured Sutton’s paintings for a Manhattan property on his show. It positively rocked Sutton’s brand. Celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and singer Andrea Bocelli became enthusiastic clients.

At this point, the recently divorced mother of two knew she needed to scale up, and the marketing and finance principles Sutton learned at Baruch’s Zicklin School of Business kicked in. “In order to create a business from my art, I needed to go beyond the original paintings—which took an enormous amount of time—to a scalable product,” she says. “Baruch fostered an environment of independence, for us to be self-motivated individuals. I invested what money I had in research and development, and I reached out to my contacts.”

Alumna Elizabeth Sutton sitting on a bed with art hanging in the background.

Mentorship from friend and designer Bari Erber, founder of children’s accessories company Bari Lynn, provided an informal crash course in licensing deals. Products Sutton designed for Erber were soon picked up by Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

As an ardent home cook, entertainer, and decorator, Sutton also had a keen sense of tabletop and décor trends. She began developing lines that now include everything from plates to napkin rings, wallpaper to carpets.

Sutton’s award-winning creations have been featured in designer show houses and in the pages of Forbes, the New York Times, and Architectural Digest, among others. And in fall 2023, her new studio and first retail space will open in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

One constant in many of Sutton’s designs is her trademark butterfly. “It’s symbolism for my life, hope, and transformation,” she says.


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