By Kody Ford
Randy Conner paints with a sense of irreverence found in seasoned artists. But he’s just getting started, having only begun to paint seriously in 2010. Still, his style and imaginative eye have propelled him rapidly in the San Diego art scene.
An Ohio native, Conner attended the University of Arkansas for two weeks before realizing that college life wasn’t for him at the time. He headed back to the Buckeye state. Boredom spurred his foray into the art world although he’d long dabbled in drawing everything from monsters to superheroes. After only two months of painting, he was offered an artist residency and solo exhibition at one of the biggest art galleries in San Diego. He packed his bags and Conner said that things haven’t slowed down sense.
“[T]he gallery gave me a private studio to work in for a month and then at the end of the month they had a show for everything I’d painted within that month,” he said. “It actually was pouring rain the night of my show, which in San Diego is rare, so people tend to shut themselves up inside when that happens. But a bunch of people still showed up and the response was great.”
Conner’s art has a day-glo color palette, one that the artist swears is not influenced by mind-altering substances.
“I think a lot of people assume that I must do a lot of drugs,” he said. “In a way it’s funny, but on the flip side it’s a little sad. Can’t people be creative without drugs? I don’t do any drugs; I barely even drink. I think my brain is weird enough already. As far as color choice, I just love a lot of color.”
Animals tend to be Conner’s subject matter.
He said, “I have absolutely no rules as far as what I’ll paint, but I find myself drawn to animals. Especially deer, zebras, and ants. I have no idea why. I think deer are so creepy and fascinating. I swear they’re aliens. Other than that I’m interested with human and animal skeletons. I just think they’re really beautiful somehow.”
Like many artists these days, Conner has come to rely on social media, particularly Facebook, to sell his artwork. He said that he has sold around 50 paintings with some even being shipped to Japan.
“I’ve been getting a ton of people on my page lately and I have no idea where they’re coming from,” he said. “I think the best thing anyone can do to attract lots of attention is to create good, honest stuff. But really the greatest reception has come from people stumbling upon my Facebook page. I sell 90% of my paintings through that page.”
The extra income helps Conner with his other venture. Currently, he is completing his English degree at San Diego State University. While it might seem like balancing painting with school is a chore, he feels that there’s no issue.
“Painting is the opposite of work to me,” he said. “By that I mean that it would be harder to NOT paint. I’m lucky enough to live with artistic roommates so the fact that my paintings are everywhere is not a problem. It’s such a part of my life that there’s no need to balance anything.”
Other artists have little influence on Conner. He says that he finds more inspiration in the music of Beethoven or the words of Albert Camus and Charles Bukowski. As for America’s Poet Laurete of the down and out, Conner feels that Bukowski provided the perfect mantra for his creative style.
“Bukowski was always saying, ‘Never try.’ To me what he was saying is that you should never be forcing anything out of yourself. If you’re trying too hard to please people or impress them with whatever you’re creating, it’s not going to be genuine, and I think people can see through that kind of shit. More importantly, if you’re creating for other people, you’ll end up not liking your own creations, and if that’s the case, then what’s the point? It’s important to not lie to yourself,” he said.
Conner harbors no firm plans of the future, besides art and school. He plans to continue taking things one day at a time, barring any cataclysmic events in the cosmos.
“I have no idea what’s next. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” said Conner. “I just want to keep improving. I sometimes think about how the sun will eventually explode, destroying all evidence that humans even existed, including all of my paintings, so while I’d love to have my paintings in museums next to Van Gogh’s work, I know that what really matters is right now. I don’t know if that made any sense, but I’ll pretend that it did.”
To see more of Conner’s artwork, visit his Facebook page.