4 June 2013-We were in Tower 7 yesterday morning when we ran into well-known local artist Sean Ruttkay, the wizard behind the Elemental Digital Art® curtain. In standard fashion and not breaking stride, Sean strolled into CDM soaked and cloaked in his standard uniform of a black oversized tank top, clearly unaware that it was raining Cats and Dogs. He was hanging some of his new pieces of art up in the restaurant. I asked him if I could get an Instagram® shot of him in the rain with his work (it’s fully weatherproof and perfect indoors or out) which he courteously obliged.
I know Sean and his work from my days as a surgeon and have been a fan for a while now. His art was a perfect fit for our new office at the time. It has since become heavily sought after by some of the biggest businesses in town. While we stay in touch through all sorts of social media, it was great to see him again in person. My partner and I had wanted to corner him for an interview, but of course he can’t be cornered. Sean has his own game going. Like the rest of us, he’s the protagonist of his own life. What’s different and what I think is behind his shine is his super drive and – positive attitude, both contagious in the best way.
Sean grew up in D.C. and his home beach was Ocean City, Maryland. At an early age he quickly ascended the ranks, finding himself at the top of the lifeguarding game. This opened some doors for him financially. Conquering significant adversity, he graduated with honors from high school before making the trip to Wilmington for college. Initially in pursuit of a marine biology degree, he ultimately found himself seeking something that was important to him. He earned a degree at UNCW that enabled him to teach special education students. Sean enjoyed teaching until his art called him away. In spite of his cool appearance, Sean has worked hard and paid his dues. Initially restrained by the dollar-desperate world, he broke away and has been working full time on his art for the past three years. We catch up a little, and after the niceties, Sean was kind enough to invite us over to his studio today. Best field trip since 5th grade.
Sean’s an artist in every sense of the word. He’s also a friend, father, mentor, son and surfer-entrepreneur. At thirty-two, with a toddler and his wife Cornelia at his side, the world’s literally his oyster. Quite simply, the guy’s got class. He’s made it a habit to share his life and techniques with countless aspiring minions over the years. He told us that his advice to all of them was to, “Figure out what you love to do, and do the hell out of it.” I thought that was sage advice, and was going to do that myself, when I realized I already was. Sean is a master in the art of living. Making a distinction between what is his work and what is his play is elusive. He has it down pat. He’s been imbued with a solid work ethic from his mother and father, an accountant and artist respectively. Sean took direction from his father early when settling on media. Eager to give credit where due, he points out that his father helped design his company’s logo, which can be seen on everything, everywhere, all over town.
Sean’s work is fantastic. Think East Coast Clark Little (if you don’t know who that is consider looking him up). Sean’s photographs and work speaks for itself. It’s hard to go into any of the finer establishments on the Beach or in Town and not see his pieces showcased. They’re visually pleasing and aesthetically soothing, each reflecting the tedium involved with getting the perfect shot and making it into the work of art it becomes. Sean’s an experienced waterman himself so the transition was natural. Sean’s expertise in the water has enabled him to get set for the best shots possible, and his knowledge and experience with the media he chooses has enabled him to live out his dream of being an artist. Simply put, he followed his own advice and, “Figured out what he loved to do, and then did the hell out of it.” He spends countless hours training himself on art history and new techniques. There’s nothing static here.
I love Sean’s genuine demeanor. What you see is what you get. He’s perpetually stoked and it shows that he loves what he does. During the majority of the interview we just hang out with him as he bounces from thing to thing -. It’s not chaotic though. In fact, I don’t think it could have been more relaxed. Sean’s fun to be around, and has a great business head on his shoulders too. It would be hard to spend any time around him without becoming more educated. He’s super bright, but plays it off well. Today, there’s no sales pitch, although I intend to pick up some more pieces of his. Whatever’s left that is, after his larger clients have narrowed my selection (if any are left). It’s no problem though he tells me, he’ll have plenty more ideas. His career is just beginning and certainly the best is yet to come..
We think he’s a Star and a great asset to the entire community.
Look for Sean’s work this summer at The Annex:
Mid-Summer/July-Sunworshipper Art Show
End of summer/early fall- Benjamin Project Art Show