The Act of Imagining: Valerie Suter’s Literary Paintings

Moved by her love of reading, artist Valerie Suter creates a whimsical series of writers' portraits.

Dylan Thomas Gif

Scrolling through Instagram, we came across a whimsical animation of the poet Dylan Thomas speaking the line, “somebody’s boring me.” The rest of that anecdote goes like this: “Somebody’s boring me. I think it’s me.” The video was decidedly cheeky—and the painting was beautiful. The eye-catching image made us wonder if there were more writerly portraits, and who the artist was behind them.

Born and raised in New York and now currently based in Los Angeles, artist Valerie Suter studied visual art at Central St. Martins College of Art & Design in London and has a B.A. in Modern History from McGill University in Montreal. Her paintings, on writers and other artists, have been exhibited in New York, London, East Hampton, Montreal, and Los Angeles.

Suter is also an illustrator for Lena Dunham’s newly-launched Lenny Letter. Her most recent piece is a portrait of Ellen Pao. We spoke to Suter about her inspiration for the series, her favorite books, and her advice to aspiring artists.

“Photographs of authors sometimes fascinate me because they seem to capture a person lost in thought or in the act of imagining, perhaps offering a glimpse into the mysterious act of writing itself,” Valerie Suter told FYNTR. “I’m really interested in tangible vs. intangible image-making and the similarities and differences between visual and verbal realms of creativity. Painting writers lets me draw a connection between two disparate worlds that I wish would overlap more often.”

If you like what you see of her work here, you can see it in the flesh as part of a group show at Los Angeles’ Co-LAB gallery on February 27, 2016. For those outside of the L.A. area, the paintings are available for sale online at Suter’s website, But keep your mitts off the Virginia Woolf! We call dibs.

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