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Shawn Conn

From a very young age Shawn knew that he was going to be an artist all of his life. He spent countless hours drawing imaginary creatures and the worlds they inhabited. While attending the Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in both painting and illustration, Shawn was challenged to push the boundaries of his understanding of what constitutes art.

 

After serving in the Army, ​Shawn embarked on an almost 30 year career as a successful tattoo artist, becoming known for his fine art style of tattooing. He's also maintained a busy freelance illustration gig with clients such as, Cutting Edge, Varese Sarabande, Warner Brothers and Topps. 

Through all of his years, he never lost his love of painting. He participated in numerous group shows from 2006 to 2013, exhibiting from California to Thailand. In 2017, after taking a 4 year mind clearing hiatus, Shawn decided to focus more time on his art career and now tattoos part time. His artwork hangs in numerous private collections.

Shawn lives and works in Rochester, NY as a full time artist and tattooist.

 

Artist's Statement

"The Universe was looking for artists, so here I am."
 

A defining moment in my life as an artist came at the beginning of my junior year at RIT. My painting class instructor had a guest speaker at one of our classes. He was a graduate painting student and he was talking about the MFA program and about his experiences as an artist. At one point I remember him telling us that he was a waiter and would probably be a waiter for the rest of his life in order to maintain his artistic principles. I was stunned. In that moment I made a promise to myself that I was going to do whatever it took to be a full time artist. I understand that, that decision was basically of torpedoing a fine arts career and getting gallery representation and I accept that. 

 

I have what I like to call creative ADD. I love so many different art forms and art styles and often have headed down a path, made progress and then sabotaged myself when a shiny, new direction to take my career catches my interest. I know that I'm not alone in this constant struggle as a creative. No matter the discipline, visual arts, music, writing, filmmaking, etc. there is always the promise of an exciting and fulfilling new project, or direction. Most experts and "successful artists" all agree that the key to being successful is to focus on one particular niche and find the market for your art. I don't disagree, but I know that path will never work for me. I'm an overachiever, a workaholic and my brain is always going 150 mph, being flooded with ideas for art, or new ways to make money from my art. Every move I make, conspiring to fulfill that promise I made to myself all those years ago, in painting class.

Juggling what is essentially three separate careers, as a fine artist, tattooist and illustrator isn't easy and I have made many missteps along the way. And sacrifices. Some, life changing and heartbreaking. But, I chose this path and I'm not known for giving up, so I keep moving forward and staying focused... on everything.


Music is an integral part, in the creation of my art, invoking a particular emotional state as I go through my creative process from start to finish. Music can be the gateway to our innermost emotions and most authentic selves. I listen to everything from dark ambient to alternative pop, classic rock to classical and trance to bluegrass. Music helps me to feel more connected to a particular painting, tattoo, or illustration. Helping to fuel my creative process and fully immerse myself in whatever I'm working on. I dance when I paint, tap my feet and nod my head when tattooing and have thrown the "devil horns' on more than one occasion while working on an illustration. 

I make no excuses for the rocky artistic journey I have chosen. And I make no apologies.

Solo Exhibitions

2019:

-December Featured Artist, Mendon 64, Mendon, NY

-Windows Into Darkness, Whitman Works Co., Rochester, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019:

Magic & Mayhem, Whitman Works Co., Rochester, NY

2018:

-Solstice: Studies in Light & Dark, Whitman Works Co., Rochester, NY

2017:
-Fairy Tales, Milkcrate Space, Hanover, MD

 

2013:
-In the Realm of Dreams and Fear, Longwood Art Gallery, Bronx, NY

 

2011:
-Here Be Monsters, Space Gallery, San Francisco, CA
-The 40 oz Show, MF Gallery, New York, NY

 

2010:
-Level 13: Video Game Art, Altered Esthetics, Minneapolis, MN

 

2009:
-6x6x2009, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Rochester, NY
-Art Awake, Pixley Warehouse, Rochester, NY 
-Superheroes & Supervillains, Look At This Gallery, Chang Mai, Thailand

 

2008:
-Art Awake, Studio 55, Rochester, NY
-6x6x2008, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Rochester, NY
-Freedom & Resident Artists IV, Altered Esthetics, Minneapolis, MN
-Monster Mash-up, Club Pearl, Rochester, NY

 

2007:
-The Board Show, Space Gallery, San Francisco, CA
-Resident Artist's Show, Altered Esthetics, Minneapolis, MN
-CPopportunity!, CPop Gallery, Detroit, MI
-Dirty Little Secrets, Altered Esthetics, Minneapolis, MN
-Forbidden Art: Finance of Expression, Copenhagen, Denmark
-The Last Gasp, Washington School of Photography, Bethesda, MD

 

2006:
-The Guerrilla Art Show, Altered Esthetics, Minneapolis, MN
-The Dirty Show, Detroit, MI
-Dia De Los Meurtos, AKA Gallery, Oklahoma City, OK
-A Carnivorous Delight, Gallery Noir, Los Angeles, CA
-The Art of Horror, Altered Esthetics, Minneapolis, MN
-International Art Money, Permanent Collection, Denmark
- The Sugar Coated Show, The Pop Shop, Lakewood, OH
-The Last Big Thing, Baltimore, MD