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Shawn Conn

From a very young age Shawn knew that he was going to be an artist for the entirety of his life. Having spent a good number of his formative years living on a farm, Shawn developed his appreciation for nature. He grew up spending hours outdoors, exploring, hunting and observing. During high school, at the urging of his art teacher, he made the decision to pursue art as a career.  While attending the Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in both painting and illustration, Shawn was challenged by his professors to push the boundaries of his understanding of what constitutes art. It was during these years that his passion for abstract realism evolved.


Life took a turn and Shawn entered the Army before completing his degree. Affter serving in the Army, ​Shawn embarked on a 30+ year career as a successful tattoo artist, becoming known for his fine art style of tattooing. From 2007 to 2018, he also maintained a side hustle as a busy freelance illustratr with clients such as, Cutting Edge, Varese Sarabande, Warner Brothers and Topps. 

Through all of his years, he never lost the love of painting that was fostered during his time at R.I.T. and created art whenever his schedule allowed. In 2006 Shawn became serious about painting and 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 painting career and made the decision to tattoo part time. His artwork hangs in numerous private collections.

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

To view Shawn's CV, click here.



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

I'm drawn to paint subject matter that makes me wonder what it will look like after going through my creative process. Ever since my days in art school, I've been obsessed with merging my love of abstraction with my need to paint things as I see them. Abstract realism allows me to approach my art in a loose, playful way while maintaining a grasp on the structure of the subject. My career as both a tattooist and illustrator have fostered an interest in iconography and conveying a particular meaning, or feeling in a singular image. The impetus for my art is a culmination of years of experimentation and strongly influenced by the artists who blazed new trails. The Impressionists, the Abstract Expressionists and the artists of the pop art movement. 

The process that I use to create is oft times more important to the evolution of an artwork, than the finished piece. That's not to say that I don't have an end vision in mind when creating. But, I find that the steps that I take to get to that final version are integral to a painting's completion and thereby infer that each layer, every texture, color choice and brushstroke although seemingly abstract and chaotic, are in fact quite deliberate. 

I work primarily in acrylic, introducing mixed media to create motion, or texture. I have also begun to explore ways to incorporate digital painting into my creation process. 

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 tap my feet and nod my head when tattooing and if you catch me in the studio at the right time of day, you'll find me dancing in front of the easel. 

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