We are excited to welcome in artist Tim Conlon who joins us for his debut RUN Great Northern available exclusively on 1xRUN in two hand-embellished editions. We caught up with the prolific graffiti artist to discuss the latest piece in his photorealistic series Blank Canvas which has found Conlon replicating the tiniest details of trains right down to the rust, paint chipped logoing and graffiti. Read on for more behind this series and be sure to grab a copy of Conlon’s debut RUN while you still can…
1x: Tell us a little bit about this piece, anything immediate you would like us to highlight about this painting?
Tim Conlon: This painting replicates a section of a Great Northern Railway (GN) boxcar. The now defunct railway company traveled across the northern United States from St. Paul, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington. They used a Rocky Mountain goat as the mascot because their passenger and freight trains traversed through Glacier National Park where these mountain goats are common. In the 1950s, the Great Northern Railway marketing department came up with “Rocky” for the animated goat used in television advertising which ultimately was painted on their rail cars.
The “Glacier Green” paint color on the Great Northern boxcars was meant to represent the actual color of glacial run-off water in Glacier National Park and Banff National Park in Montana and Canada.
1x: Was this piece part of a recent theme, series or show that you had? If so how did it fit into that given grouping?
Tim Conlon: This piece is part of my ongoing Blank Canvas series. Using spray paint as the medium, the paintings are scale studies combining typography, abstraction and trompe l’oeil. Each painting is different, but most paintings in the series include a railroad logo, elements of graffiti and the natural rust and weathering of steel. This is the 69th painting in that collection.
1x: What materials were use to create this piece?
Tim Conlon: Like all of my train paintings, this is painted almost entirely with spray paint. I also use some paint marker and acrylic to build up the rust.
1x: When was this piece created?
Tim Conlon: Over a year ago we first talked about doing a release, so I started putting together designs back in DC for a new painting and a couple of G scale trains. During that time I got a place in LA, so I ended up painting everything in my new studio out here.
1x: Tell us how the idea and execution came about for this painting?
Tim Conlon: I start out doing research on train companies and their logos. I also spend time in freight yards and I look at archived photos. I had been wanting to paint “Rocky” for a while and was waiting for the right project to show up. This seemed like a good opportunity.
1x: How long did this piece take to complete?
Tim Conlon: I started painting in February, but got sidetracked with an art project for the lobby of a new hotel in New Jersey. I returned to it in May and the painting itself took about two weeks.
1x: What do you feel is unique about this piece compared with your other work?
Tim Conlon: In the same way that I like to resurrect old freight train company logos that have long been forgotten for my canvas paintings, I like to bring back some of those “cartoon modern” style characters on my G scale model trains. “Rocky” is a mix of both of those worlds.
1x: Why should people buy this print?
Tim Conlon: Over the years I’ve had a bunch of people ask me to do a print of one of my train paintings. The original paintings themselves are fairly large because I try to keep them to the scale of a real train. Now is your chance to get the first one.
1x: Describe this piece in one gut reaction word.
Tim Conlon: Goat.
1x: When did you first start making art?
Tim Conlon: I’ve been making art since I was a child. I started painting graffiti about 20 years ago. My professional art career started about ten years ago.
1x: What was your first piece?
Tim Conlon: My mom recently gave me a framed drawing of Mickey Mouse that I drew for my grandmother when I was six years old.
1x: What artists inspired you early on?
Tim Conlon: As a kid I would sit and draw while watching Saturday morning cartoons. Max Fleischer, Hanna-Barbera, and Tex Avery era cartoons would definitely be an early inspiration.
1x: What artists inspire you now?
Tim Conlon: My friends who started in graffiti and have also transitioned to successful gallery artists inspire me the most. It’s fascinating to see what they come up with and the path they are on.
1x: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what? If not then what is your environment like when you work?
Tim Conlon: It depends upon my mood and what I am focused on painting in that particular moment. Sometimes I want music and sometimes I prefer silence so that I can work through some decisions. My taste in music varies, but I usually come back to listening to east coast hip-hop, punk and Led Zeppelin.
One of my friends, Matt Fulchiron is a stand-up comic so I listen to his podcast a lot. He put me on to Bill Burr and Michael Rapaport who also do funny, wild podcasts. I like the Legends Thursday Graffiti Podcast as well.
1x: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it?
Tim Conlon: Honestly, I am not sure. I have a lot of prints and original pieces from friends who are successful artists in their own right. I don’t have enough wall space so things have to get rotated. Some pieces were given to me and some I purchased through the galleries that represent them. Even though I could go directly to them to commission or trade work, I think it’s important to buy from a gallery to help support and build their professional career. And yes, I’ve kept everything.
1x: What was the last piece of art that you bought?
Tim Conlon: Lead Sled by my BA crewmate, Mike Giant. I bought it right here on this very site!
1x: Any big shows or events coming up that you’d like to share?
Tim Conlon: I’ve been doing the art fair circuit this year. I had pieces at SCOPE in New York and then Basel, Switzerland. Market Art + Design in the Hamptons just finished up, so Art Basel Miami in December will be next. I’m working on a big project with Roger Gastman, but I can’t say anything more than that. Maybe in 2017. There are a number of privately commissioned pieces that I am catching up on now.