'If I hadn’t fallen in love I might never have known I was an artist'

In my third year training as a classical tenor I fell in love with a visual artist. His use of colour and the drama of catching someone’s style and laying it for all to see on canvas captivated me. I started painting next to him just to spend time with him. I travelled through more styles than I can remember; watercolour, clay, screen-printing. None were for me. Before long I let my feelings known to him but they were not reciprocated. Devastated with broken heart, after a day of panic attacks I returned to my blank canvas, dipped my hands into pots of blue ink and smeared them over the canvas. It was a mess, but it was an expression of what I was feeling. Which I suppose was apt considering I too was a mess.  For the first time I had finally found out what my style was. It wasn’t the materials I used…it was what I wanted to say. Over the next few days I couldn’t stop sketching and painting. Before long I had realised….I didn’t just fall in love with him…I fell in love with art.

When I first started selling my pieces they sold for around a week’s dole money. Then as the years passed my style has progressed and evolved as I have become centred in myself and what I want to express. I’ve never had an agent and despite countless emails and door knocking there wasn't a gallery that was willing to hold my work for more than a couple of weeks. So I decided to skip the middle man and simply exhibit my pieces through social media (facebook, twitter, tumblr etc). That’s when something special happened. I started getting noticed. More than I could have anticipated.

Since choosing to focus on exhibiting primarily through social media I have exhibited in major galleries such as Pallant House Gallery, been shortlisted for art prizes including the New Light Art Award, Saatchi Showdown Drawing Prize, The Celeste Art Prize and the Outside In National Art Prize, as well as had a painting unveiled in The House of Commons. Now owners of my art included 2 golden globe winners, Cultural Attachés, a gold medal Olympian, Sir Ian Mckellen, the author and actor Stephen Fry and the billionaire fashion designer Giorgio Armani.

My portrait of Tom Daley (2014) went viral and for a brief period was the most talked about image on the internet. It featured in TIME.com, The Independent, BuzzFeed, and even caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres whose article on it was shared over 100,000 times within 2 days of being posted. More recently my portrait of Caitlyn Jenner (2015) made news both nationally and internationally. In the first 24 hours alone it was seen by over 1,000,000 people and appeared in Cosmopolitan, The Hollywood Reporter and MTV. In one week it was seen by more people than visit the MOMA in 3 years. My portrait of Donald Trump (2016) became one of the most viral images of the American Election featuring on the front cover of Newspapers both in the US and across Europe. Without a single gallery exhibiting them these 3 images combined have been seen by tens of millions of people.

If I hadn’t fallen in love…I would never have known.

“A truly complex and emotive individual, Conor Collins is name that is being whispered in high circles amongst inspired art collectors and we anticipate that his work will soon be noticed not just on the UK stage but Globally, as word spreads of this unique and intriguing artist. Definitely one to watch” Andrew Scott – Cloud Gallery

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“ I could look at your work all day. Everytime I looked I saw something new” Art historian Roger Cardinal

'The only portait I could have hanging in my house'  Actor and Writer Stephen Fry

© Conor Collins  Images cannot be distributed or copied without prior written permission

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