Who is Martin Eaton? The Restless Pioneer Who Has Finally Found His Home

Tomorrow’s Vig Exhibition 2024, My Gallery NYC, Brooklyn, New York. Courtesy: Caleb Lee Adams

Martin Eaton is a polymath of sorts, and his story reads like a cautionary tale of early success and burning too bright, too young. Eaton left high school before graduation and started a creative design agency at 21. It was a thriving success until the recession began. In a final attempt to regain control of his life, he moved to New York in 2011 where he became depressed and began self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. That being said, this is a story with a happy ending- although one can’t help but feel that this is only just the beginning for the serial entrepreneur. Today, Eaton works as a writer, curator, and director, perhaps best known for his @tomorrowsvig, an Instagram account boasting over 45,000 followers. The Instagram account showcases the work of artists of his choosing, including painters, sketchers and graphic designers. Eaton has used this account not only to platform lesser-known artists but to provide a visual component to accompany his short stories, which he shares in the captions. 

These stories are simple snapshots of everyday life that expose something challenging but profoundly human. In his short story, Rush Hour, Eaton speaks from the perspective of a woman who has been sexually assaulted on the train. It’s an all too common experience that is hard to put into words. But Eaton gives it his best shot- capturing the unjust and humiliating experience that, shockingly, one-third of women will experience at some point in their lifetime. In BEG, a story even more harrowing than the last, Eaton depicts the final moments before a young man takes his own life. Frankly, it’s not for the faint of heart. The picture that goes with this story is equally as intense- depicting the moment that the man pulls the trigger. It could benefit from some kind of trigger warning- but Eaton is clearly determined not to shy away from tragedy. 

Martin Eaton/Nikke Naeme, Rush Hour, 2023. Courtesy: Tomorrow’s Vig

There is joy in his work, too. In his short story titled Worms, Eaton speaks from the perspective of an aging grandfather helping his grandson in the garden. Whilst it’s a sad story that ultimately results in death, it is also an achingly beautiful story about love and the joy that can be found in our brief time here on earth. A grandfather looks into his grandson’s face in his final moments and observes, “his smile, with teeth missing, is warped and beautiful through the jar between our faces.” It’s this scene that the artist has illustrated, the accompanying imagery bringing the warmth of the story to life. You can almost smell the mud. 

Martin Eaton/Jose Antonio Fundo, Worms, Tomorrow’s Vig 2019

It is intriguing also to witness Eaton’s ability to empathise with unlikely candidates- in every story Eaton writes from the perspective of somebody else. In one story he writes as a mourning mother, in another a young boy on the playground, in another, an aging grandfather. 

What is evident throughout all of Eaton’s projects is his innate desire to collaborate and champion the work of others. For Tomorrow’s Vig, Eaton has worked with over ten emerging artists, providing each one with a space to flex their raw talent. In the captions on Instagram, Eaton describes how he came to collaborate with each artist, detailing the creative collaboration that unfurls between them following his commission of their work. True to Eaton’s entire ethos, he embraces the challenging aspects of collaboration- disagreements, oversights, and successes are all part of his painstakingly truthful practice.

Mott & Spy, 2023, Cork Publishing Inc

These stories have lived online since Eaton first began sharing them several years ago, but this week, he launched an exhibition of select stories and images from his forthcoming coffee table book. It’s a collection that doesn’t aim at the highbrow; instead, it offers an antidote to living a fast-paced life under late-stage capitalism. It’s easy to predict that this book will be a success. One only needs to look at the comment section on Instagram to see how many people relate to the gritty subject matter in Eaton’s stories. 

This is not the first time that Eaton has made his dreams manifest. In the eerie silence of 2020, Eaton spent his entire life’s savings on producing Mott & Spy, a film about four idealistic freshmen who resurrect a famed newspaper to fight their corrupt university administration. It’s a quirky production, and whilst amateur, the film has the unmistakable verve of indie cinema and the polish of a Netflix series. The film’s leads are determined, full of heart and overly ambitious despite the odds stacked against them- much like Eaton himself. 

In the careful and sanitised landscape of the art world, it is refreshing to see Eaton’s work in all of its necessary chaos. If there was a rulebook, Eaton seems to have thrown it out of the window a long time ago- and it doesn’t appear that he is looking back. 

Written by Emily Burke

Martin Eaton, 2024, My Gallery NYC, Brooklyn, New York. Courtesy: Caleb Lee Adams

Tomorrow’s Vig is on view at My Gallery NYC until 13 March 2024.


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