We sat down with Connie Rose, British surrealist painter making her mark in New York City.
I found Connie Rose while browsing one day through Instagram in search of inspiration. Connie is a British artist creating surrealist art as well as very much realistic portraits. The clash of those two seemingly opposite styles make her an artist hard to miss.
In her two years in New York City she managed to work with Bushwick JunXion and Yeshiva University. Most recently, she designed the cover art for up-and-coming Hip Hop artist Dot Demo.
In her Lower East Side studio/apartment we talked about the beginnings of her art career, meditation, inspirations and what’s next for Connie Rose.
How did you get into arts?
Ok, so I went to Chelsea Art School and it was the number one art school I wanted to go to in London, because it allowed you to be free with what you chose to do. They didn’t make you do like, just painting or sculpture, you could do anything. And actually they told me not to paint there, because they said, “you’re already good at that, try something else.” I was doing more portraiture and so, I actually left that and tried installation and film. And I went around the world interviewing people about open relationships, and sex experts, and psychologists. Because I love psychology and science and everything around that, and that’s always the theme in my work. And then I went to Vancouver for a term, came back to Chelsea, finished there, and then I started getting portrait commissions and then I declared myself self-employed and then I started visiting New York and just fell in love with it. The thing that I really love about New York, compared to London, is that it has artist community. And in London I didn’t really have that. Here there’s a lot of artists and we can get together and talk ideas and we paint together and there’s always an exhibition to go to. And I like how my friends are really motivated to work hard and I can see that they’re going somewhere.
How do you differentiate between your two styles?
My portraiture when you get up close to it, it looks like a painting. And I think I make sure that it does because I don’t see a point in painting something that looks exactly like a photograph. But they’re both a very different process. The portraiture is very slow and concentrated, although, the abstraction surrealism can be that too, but it’s more dynamic.
Which one do you prefer?
I think, essentially, they both bring me something very unique and different. But I probably prefer the abstraction surrealism because I feel like it taps into more deep part of me and expresses that inner essence that is indescribable with words.
Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from life, everything. But recently, in the last seven months my self-growth and my art has gone up. […] Because, I gave up drinking. Just to live like more even and healthy lifestyle and not have those ups and downs. And it’s also because I’ve been meditating every day for three years. And recently it feels like the meditation has allowed me to go deeper. Also because I’ve combined it with breath work to consend my mind into… It becomes very visual, well, like a hallucination and I can see these images. And then I paint them.
Who are your idols?
Well, idols I would say… I don’t think I can be a surrealist painter without saying Salvador Dali. I love Chuck Close. And I also really like Charlie Immer, he’s a young surrealist painter. And many artists I see in Hi-Fructose magazine.
Do you want to explore other art forms?
I’m always leaving myself open to exploring anything that the idea needs. So if it needed to be a sculpture I think it would. But at the moment I feel like there’s so much to explore with paint that I’m very satisfied and nourished with that. And each painting I do leads to the next one. And I can take something from one painting and use it in the next one if I think that works.
What are your career goals??
I was talking about it with a friend the other day, because when people come for a studio visit it’s always hard to explain to them just how focused and ambitious I am. Because, you know, it can come across as very arrogant. But I’m so focused, and I really, really want my work to one day be at the Whitney and MoMA. And one of my other goals is to have my work on the front cover of Hi-Fructose – I would love that. One of my goals was to do an album cover, and I’ve just done that. I just also have this vision of being a very old artist and having like a big retrospective and young artists coming to me and saying that they’re inspired by my work because I’ve had that feeling with other artists. That’s my goal. And I would love to have enough money to invest in other artists and give them the ability to create art. That’s my goals.