It's no secret, we love the work of artist Michael McConnell over here at M & R. Earlier in the year we commissioned him to create two Oakland prints exclusively for the shop and couldn't be happier with the designs he did. Michael is getting ready for the upcoming SF Open Studios so we thought it was a great time to catch him in the studio for a few questions.
When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist? Was there a defining moment in your life?
Growing up my parents put me in drawing classes on Saturday mornings. I was always drawn to animals and making cartoons for various make believe projects that my brother and I would play. Originally I had always thought I'd go to school to become a veterinarian, but I'm allergic to anything with fur. So when I was in high school my art teacher said "first person who raises their hand gets a scholarship to CCAD". I just sat there and then she said "Ok Mike, you're going" And I went and pretty much never looked back.
Tell us a little bit about your artwork.
Many cultures have assigned personality traits to animals and I often reference them when composing narratives with my art. I feel that most people are attracted and relate to animals in some way, even if it is being terrified of them. I am interested in the innocent quality of animals and how that can be compared to childhood.
What inspires you? Are you inspired by other artists?
I'm inspired by small happenings. I tend to be a pretty quiet person in social settings and prefer to observe then participate at times. But it is in those moments that you get to see the tiny details. As for other artists I am inspired by Josh Keyes, Dailydoodlegram (on instagram), Courtney Cerruti, Frank Gonzales, and Vanessa Foley. I like all of their artwork and am inspired how dedicated to their craft they are. I would also say that Mark Poulin is a big inspiration as he never just tells me "that looks nice", he's a hard critic and I appreciate that he challenges me.
Which tool/tools in your studio could you not live without?
A number 2H pencil and my electric pencil sharpener.
Tell us about your upcoming open studios. We hear you worked on a fun project specifically for the event.
This weekend, October 26th and 27th, I will be participating in Art Span's Open Studios. My studio is located in the MIssion District in SF, just above Thrift Town (3265 17th @Mission). I will be showing some current work I've just completed, along with some smaller works I made specifically for Open Studios. They are 5 series of paintings (4 in each series) that were created based on a specific set of restrictions that my brother and his friend came up with along with animal suggestions from people on Facebook. They were : only use brown and white, Close up, the cat can not be a cat, the animal is not here but you can tell that they were, and 70's palate. It was a fun challenge and it's a good way for me to think outside my normal practice of art making.
Michael's prints can always be found at Marion and Rose's Workshop, but you should definitely check out his website poopingrabbit.com to see all of his amazing original works.
The view from the back of Michael's studio building. <3