Elke Reva Sudin is a multi-disciplinary artist living in Brooklyn, NY. While she works in traditional media like paint, she's also embraced technology and made it an integral part of her work. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to found NY Drawing Booth, an event entertainment company that brings artists to weddings, corporate shindigs, and more to create individual portraits on the fly using iPads. It's like a photo booth, but instead of a camera behind a curtain, there's a live artist to capture your likeness—and just like a photo booth, you can go home with a souvenir photo printed for you right at the event. We talked to Elke about her art, her inspirations, and how she navigates the sometimes squiggly line between producing meaningful art and making a living as an artist.
Elke Reva Sudin
What are you currently working on creatively?
My latest project is a new business called NY Drawing Booth which provides sophisticated two-minute portraits hand drawn by top artists on iPads using pressure sensitive styli. The artists (myself included) must be able to do a two-minute portrait with good style while mingling in the crowd of swanky events. This business has allowed me to draw so much more than I do when working on just a few illustrations or one big oil painting. I love working quickly and producing a LOT of work.
How do you balance being an artist with running a business? Do you find that entrepreneurship has made it more difficult to be creative, or has it fed into your creativity?
I find the business end of things to be very creative. Instead of a sketch to finished painting, each element of the business is like each element of a series of paintings. When all of the elements come together you get to step back from and marvel at how it all works together to accomplish something more than the sum of its parts. In the same way you would while doing a painting, you also step back and assess what is working and what isn't. I find entrepreneurship to be very exciting because there are always new challenges and new elements to incorporate into the process. Just like artistic mediums, the more you have experience with these other elements, the more of a master you become at them and how they work together and better ways to strategize.
Much of creativity comes from analyzing the world around you and seeing everything from an outside perspective. In business I get to see what I am creating from the perspective of so many new audiences, from event planners, to the attendees, and for my crew of artists. People have no idea how many elements are involved to provide a strong creative product from the presentation, the technology involved, and the delivery.
Elke drawing at a wedding
What are your favorite tools online (apps, software, services) for getting stuff done?
Procreate (drawing/digital painting app)
Jot Touch stylus from Adonit
Seamless (if I don't have to cook I can get more done!)
Uber (to transport artwork and myself!)
Google apps: Mail, voice, docs, YouTube
Square's new cash app (for paying my artists and getting paid for small gigs)
What inspires you?
Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Edo period
Nature (the woods, the beach)
Instrumental music with intricate melodies. Complex melodies are the same to me as complex line drawings and colorful paintings.
My husband (more on him at saulsudin.com)
Female CEO role models
Watching plants overcome their struggle to grow
Gustavo Klimpt, Egon Shiele, Hokusai
You're handed a plane ticket good for one destination anywhere in the world. Where are you going?
Japan. Many of my influences come from the art styles that grew from there. From brush and ink paintings to Japanese woodblock prints to contemporary brightly colored densely collaged compositions, they relate both to my classical techniques and my contemporary, media-driven, high energy style. I want to see the high voltage Tokyo, the calmer countryside, the lifestyle, the mannerisms, and taste the local food.
One of Elke's portraits. Uncanny, no?
Fill in the blank.
I can't live without: Shabbat (The Jewish day of rest. Includes no use of phones and other electronics for the 25 hours, but a lot of eating and nice walks).
The thing I look forward to most every day is: lunch
I can't stand it when: people chew loudly. (It is actually a real condition called Misophonia. I am not alone!).
I feel the most creative when: I see inspiring work by other artists that can achieve what I can't do (yet) but I understand how they got there.
If the Internet stopped working, I would: call my mom.
You can reach Ms. Sudin at her website, ElkeRevaSudin.com