Conor Collins – Art

Conor Collins is an artist whose provocative work has gone viral more than once. We featured Conor back in 2015, and you may already have seen some of his portraits on Twitter and Instagram. Conor takes hateful statements and turns them into art. His Tom Daley painting composed of homophobic tweets directed at the Olympian diver was one of his most successful viral pieces. He also took a Vanity Fair cover of Caitlyn Jenner and recreated it using transphobic tweets directed at her. Oh, and there’s that Trump portrait too.

We decided it was time to check back in with Conor and see what’s happening in his creative world.

In Conversation

What inspired you to use negative comments to create art?

I wish I could say I had socio-political reasons or some deeply connected idea based on some historical tradition of typography. But in truth, I think it’s just because when I speak, I tend to talk very fast and about three things all at once, so people don’t always understand me. So, I thought if I just simplify this and show society exactly what the rest of society is saying, without me saying anything at all, then maybe I can communicate what I am trying to say easier. It’s my attempt at reflecting the best and worst of society back at itself.

Have you ever met Tom Daley and do you know how he feels about your Daley Portrait?

Bizarrely I haven’t, but the day after it went viral my parents did meet him. I thought they were pulling my leg when they texted me saying, ‘just having dinner with Tom Daley.’ Then minutes later they sent me a pic of all three of them together. He does like the piece. I’m also very happy to have given the piece to someone who is a HUGE supporter of the LGBT community and the arts. I refused to give it to ANYONE for years, as they had to be someone who cared about more than just a painting.

Are you looking for love, already involved, neither?

My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over three years, which writing it surprises me. It’s flown by. Our personalities are a little chalk and cheese in many ways, but I am head over heels with him. It takes a special kind of person to put up with all my arty nonsense thoughts 24 hours a day. Plus he makes me laugh like no one else.

Can you tell us a little more about your choice of materials to paint with?

I originally used unconventional materials, not due to creativity, but poverty. I couldn’t afford paint or brushes. So using materials like Nutella or sweets, or cows blood just made economic sense. I do think I have a keen interest in the material of a piece, but only realized this because my other half pointed it out to me a couple of months ago. I genuinely didn’t even notice there was anything odd about it. But, I think I like for the whole piece to be a reflection of what I am trying to say, materials and all, and not simply the image.

What’s your next big project?

I will be off to Belgium in early October to Exhibit at the BOZAR – Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles (I had to Google how to spell that) for five days or so, which I am looking forward to. Mostly due to the waffles and beer, but also the art world there is really interesting and accepting.

However I do want to produce a solo show soon, which would be unlike anything anyone has tried before. But these things do cost money. So until I have saved enough pennies for what I have planned, or a lovely wealthy person offers to lend a hand. I think it might be a little while till it’s up and running!

Conor will be part of ACAF The Accessible Art Fair held in BOZAR October 5th-8th this year. To view even more of Conor’s artwork or to support him you can visit his website.

Photo by Robert Gershinson


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