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Rising Star Elisa Rosa Valenti: “Create the beauty you want to see in the world; Create what you love and those who love it too will find you”

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keeping your message authentic and genuine requires slow and consistent growth. Choose the thing you cannot stop thinking about, get good at it and keep challenging yourself. Passion is the fuel that keeps you going when things get difficult. Do this because it fulfills you. Create the beauty you want to see in the world. Create what you love and those who love it too will find you. When a creative fury takes over, allow it to. But when your body needs rest- rest. Pushing yourself to be creative when the energy is not there is a recipe for disaster- it will lead to stress art and that will show in the brushstrokes.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Elisa Rosa Valenti. She is a body-positive and contemporary figurative artist whose work evokes a personal interpretation of beauty, strength and vulnerability.

Through a myriad of mediums and varying flesh tones, Valenti’s signature cubism figures come to life and seem as if they could be any woman. Her work is a reflection of beautiful, luscious women that reveal Valenti’s own battle with body image and her journey to mental health.

Based in Queens, New York Valenti is a self-taught painter who studied fine arts and art history at the High School of Art and Design. She also holds a Doctorate of Pharmacy from St. John’s University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Queens, NY and I’m the daughter of immigrant parents. They settled in NYC in 1969 and worked every day since trying to achieve the American Dream. Their backgrounds and work ethic really instilled in me a strong sense of independence and the need to be self-sufficient at such a young age, while still allowing me to explore my happiness.

Growing up, art has always been a form of comfort and healing for me and I got older, a passion my parents continued to support. I attended the High School of Art and Design in NYC, however, made the decision to pursue something more “stable,” in college.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

After school I pursued a career in pharmaceuticals, eventually working my way up to Pharmacy Director. On paper, I had the dream job and what many would define as success. However, I felt really unfulfilled and constantly distracted by thinking about what I wanted to do — which was painting.

In 2018, I decided to take a step back from my role and pursue a career in art. It’s been about a year and a half now since I’ve focused my time on Elisa Valenti Studio and it’s been one of the most transformative times of my life. Not only have I been able to tell my story in a medium that is therapeutic to me, but my work and story have been a source of inspiration of healing for others.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When I had first started painting, I was doing everything I could to immerse myself in the art world — from attending events to connecting with artists on Instagram. A colleague of mine, Gigi was preparing for the Superfine show and I had reached out to her via Instagram and she ended up inviting me. Shortly after, I started receiving sponsored ads on Instagram inviting artists to apply for the show — I applied, not thinking it would be a possibility and sure enough, I was accepted.

This was really the starting point of Elisa Valenti Studio becoming something bigger. It was my first show and resulted in a collection of paintings that were never meant to be on display. The response from the art community really gave me the confidence to move forward with this career!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Anyone who knows me now knows that when I attend an art show the only shoes I will wear are flats, at least now.

That lesson was learned quickly when I attended TOAF (The Other Art Fair) and wore heels four (4) days straight which resulted in an ankle injury I still feel to this day.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

It’s such an exciting time for Elisa Valenti Studio right now between ongoing projects and upcoming exhibitions.

One of the projects I’m currently involved in is #artistsupportpledge which was started amidst the pandemic to support up and coming artists and makers. I joined the initiative in May creating smaller-scale pieces for the program and internally set a goal of what I wanted to sell. Within a month and a half, I had exceeded my goal which has been incredibly exciting as I have been able to introduce my audience to other artists and makers. However, the most amazing part in all of this is that proceeds from my purchase of these artists have often been given back to communities that need it the most right now — whether the NYC Foodbank or organizations supporting BLM.

Looking ahead, my work will be featured in two digital exhibitions with really great galleries in NYC and LA — and I’m honored to have the privilege of being selected to partake!

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

  • Feeling seen is the ultimate power. My work is a reflection of my own battle with body image and not seeing people like me on screen or in the magazines growing up. Thinking back, there were so many times where I discounted myself before I even gave myself a chance and I think it’s because I didn’t see anyone like me and assumed, I shouldn’t be doing x, y or z. I do believe that if I saw more people like me, my energy would have been different at a younger age. Over the last few years, there has been an incredible shift in society where people are celebrating their bodies and I think the impact has been profound for so many people. It’s okay to love and feel confident yourself no matter what — this isn’t something you should learn later in your life.
  • Diversity is critical. Where I grew up in Queens, I was surrounded by so many cultures and people on a daily basis from food and music to art and language, and we all sat at the same table. It’s beautiful to learn and incorporate the best of other cultures into yourself.
  • The messages we consume shape our thoughts. Studies show that what you are exposed to, on television, magazines and now Instagram make a profound impact on individuals, especially at a young age. The good, bad and different is something we should all be aware of — because it allows you to understand others, empathize and learn with them. When you allow diversity in any capacity you also allow people to see that we’re all far more similar than you think.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • Just start, do not wait for that perfect moment. It took me a long time to realize that the perfect moment doesn’t exist and that each day can bring something new. I had no real plan in place when I decided to invest my time in painting, I just started painting and making art — putting the fear of what could happen, aside. Once you take that first step, you’re already a step ahead.
  • Your best art will come after you push through an awful, difficult or stressful period. As mentioned, I previously held the role as Pharmacy Director prior to involving myself in art full-time. My departure was incubated by an incredibly stressful situation — but with that, I found relief and calm when I painted. To this day, the first Elisa Valenti Studio pieces are ones that I feel so truly represent me as an artist and ones that I feel most proud of.
  • Ideas happen while you are doing, not while you’re thinking. Intrinsically, I am a planner and for the longest time, I wouldn’t execute anything until I had the perfect plan. But as I continued my journey as an artist, I realized that my best work starts simply as an idea and embracing the journey — the fun and experimentation is when the breakthrough happens. It’s how my color-blocked painting series came to fruition; I merely started painting a figure and as it progressed, the shapes and colors came through.
  • You don’t have to say “yes” to everything. Starting out, I felt that I had to say yes to every opportunity that came my way or say yes to every piece of advice that someone gave me. Not only did this result in personal burnout, but also so much time doing things that weren’t right for my business — such as investing in scanning my original pieces for my website and for prints, which I ended up not even using.
  • Be yourself. My career as an artist is a testament to this. While I have been told that so many people see themselves, through my art — more than anything, my art represents me and my story. I have been told to change the subject of my art and paint celebrities because it will help me gain popularity and followers on Instagram. While these types of comments once used to influence me, they no longer do because when my work is authentic and comes from a place of confidence in myself, my collectors respond.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keeping your message authentic and genuine requires slow and consistent growth. Choose the thing you cannot stop thinking about, get good at it and keep challenging yourself. Passion is the fuel that keeps you going when things get difficult. Do this because it fulfills you. Create the beauty you want to see in the world. Create what you love and those who love it too will find you. When a creative fury takes over, allow it to. But when your body needs rest- rest. Pushing yourself to be creative when the energy is not there is a recipe for disaster- it will lead to stress art and that will show in the brushstrokes.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

  • Equality and Slavery Tax.
  • Changing our educational system to cultivate good human beings. Emphasize a curriculum that focuses on the fortitude of character and allows students to flourish in the things they are best at.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mother.

Throughout my adult life, we bickered constantly about work. As an immigrant, she came here to provide a better life for my siblings and me. She knew poverty and valued every moment she could earn money so that we didn’t have to know what that felt like.

As a pharmacist I had two days on, two days off schedule — on the days I was working it would be back-to-back 14-hour shifts, and the days I had off she didn’t understand why I wasn’t working. She felt they were frivolous especially when I took advantage of that time, whether it was salsa lessons, learning a new language or just investing in my hobbies.

It’s an interesting thing now, that I am no longer a full-time pharmacist (I still have my license and work part-time) that my “spare time” is spent working, just on my paintings.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Live for today because tomorrow may never come.”

This quote is inspired, again, by my mother. The latter half of the story from the prior question is relevant to this. As mentioned, my mother constantly worked not only to build that life for us but because she loved to travel. She forged these incredible plans for herself waiting to retire — from updating a home in Sicily and booking trips for, “when she was retired.”

Shortly after she retired, she fell sick and less than two years later she died. She never had the opportunity to see her renovated home in Sicily or go on those trips she saved and so eagerly waited to go on. In those last few weeks, we had a conversation that made a profound impact on me. Mind you my mother was incredibly strong-willed who was rarely wrong and the pinnacle of wisdom told me that if she had known then what she knows now she would have lived her life the way I did because you never know when it will end.

I stayed at the pharmacy a few years after her death, but those words stuck with me. I wasn’t living the words or the ethos I preached by not doing what I love. In 2018, I took the leap of faith — quit my job and started Elisa Valenti Studio and haven’t looked back.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Frida Kahlo. What I find so interesting about Kahlo, is that while she had a passion for art growing up, she really wanted to pursue medicine. Due to an accident, this couldn’t happen, but it did lead to her teaching herself how to paint — in which she used herself, as her subject.

As someone who was in medicine and is a self-taught painter, it would be incredible to hear her story firsthand. Hear how art heals.

How can our readers follow you online?


This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!



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