Donny Conrad has created quite a name for himself with his one-off illustrations. I’m sure you probably own a few shirts featuring his killer artwork, as he works with many companies and independent brands within the industry. Donny possess the ability to bring motorcycles to the forefront while surrounding the topic at hand with killer vans, babes, or a snippet from the road that we all know and enjoy. Please take a moment to get to know the ever-talented Donny Conrad.
Name: Donny Conrad
Business Name:...I draw stuff
Current location: Williamsburg, Ohio
Tell us a little bit about yourself: As of the last four years, I have been a freelance illustrator. I live with my wife and four dogs in a small rural town east of Cincinnati. Along with being a motor junky, I am also an avid fisherman and nature wanderer.
When do you feel that art became a vital part of your life? Since I was in second grade. That’s probably my first memory of drawing and being relatively passionate about it. My mom used to be bummed when she’d ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. My answer was “a trash man or a cartoonist.” Trashman because at the time they used to ride on the back of the trucks, and frankly, that shit looked like fun. Cartoonist because drawing was all I did when i wasn’t skateboarding or BMX’ing. A musician was my third answer. Nevertheless, it was was probably hard for my mom to be stoked for my future.
Who were your influences growing up? Oh man! Non-graphic art related. Mostly skateboarders and musicians; Duane Peters, Mike V, Jason Adams. Just a bunch of dudes that I thought were badass. I’ve always considered skateboarding to be its own art form and it’s practitioners to be their own individual artists.
Art speaking? Non-music related? Uummm...Rat Fink used to terrify me as a kid. I blame that solely on those old creepy Chuck E. Cheese robotics. But Ed Roth and his monsters really spoke to me. Other than that, I didn’t have many idols or influences. I was always actively seeking something that spoke to me and didn’t involve anyone else. Currently, my influences have gone through the roof. Frazetta, Vallejo, Bakshi, Mucha are the standard around my studio.
What types of services do you provide? My main bread and butter is shirt design. I’ve always been a fan of killer shirts, so applying my art to a shirt has always been cool to me. Then it became a passion and now it’s an obsession. As well as shirt design I also do stickers and other printable art. Often I work on a digital pad, but now and then I get commissioned for wall art, which is always refreshing. Ink and watercolor have always held a special spot with me.
I'm sure you love every design you've created thus far. What are some of your personal favorites and why? Recently I got a chance to work with the man Danger Dan. He is the owner of MCshopTs.com which is a monthly shirt subscription dealing solely with motorcycle shops across the country. So I did a design with Lane Splitter Garage out of Phoenix. I was very proud of that design. I was extremely happy about drawing a cab over a semi. I finished up a shirt with Chopper Swapper for their 5th Anniversary. Designs like that one and the dragon slayer design I did with Death Co. allow the fantasy art nerd in me to go to town while still maintaining my love for motorcycles. I’ve also been working with my dude Joshy Robots. Joshy does a lot with vintage Porsche’s but in a vagabond way. We’ve put out a handful of shirts recently. It’s been enjoyable to apply my ideas and influences to something like a Porsche. I think it’s the contrast that I really enjoy. It’s like riding for two days to a swanky ass restaurant. Walking your unwashed ass inside and sitting down with class to a $100 meal for one. It’s the most adult form of “fuck you” I can think of.
Do you prefer to have free range when creating artwork or do you enjoy input? I enjoy my customers to have a little understanding of what they want. That’s not saying that I don’t enjoy those who come by with a blank idea. When customers come by with a general idea, subject matter, feeling, vibe, color palette ..whatever! It just helps me narrow down my thoughts. When it’s completely free, I feel like a lot of things get rejected. People don’t know what they always want, but they always know what they don’t want.
When it comes to drawing motorcycles which make and model do you enjoy drawing the most? I think it has something to do with growing up in the early ‘80’s in South Jersey. When I think about a motor that I think is THE motorcycle motor for me, it’s almost always a shovelhead. To me, the general shape, the rocker boxes, tranny. If I had to sketch a motor from memory with no reference photos, I think I could get the shovelhead and all of its components down pretty accurate.
When did motorcycles enter your life? I was always around them as a kid. My uncle had a Harley and where we lived had a pretty big club scene. Motorcycles have always been around me in some form or another. I started building my first project when I was 19 or so. Hot rods and vans have always popped up in between bikes. But bikes have always seemed to be the epicenter. I think when it comes down to it, I’m just a lazy ass, and I like things that move on their own power.
What do you currently ride? Currently, I have a 1995 sportsturd. A few medical conditions involving my back left me with a tight wallet and a hardtail that needed a new home. So I bought a “new” bike, left the suspension stock and pretty much tried to make it as cool as possible on a budget. I’ve seen worse. Hah
If you could ride on one stretch of road in the world where would it be and why? I’d ride my happy ass right down to Cape Canaveral. Board the next outbound rocket and get the hell off this rock. Too many people, not enough humanity.
Who inspires you at the moment? Artistically speaking, that list is huge. I usually take a lot of inspiration from music. I’ll change my tunes to help me convey a thought when I’m drawing. Illustration-wise, that’s a bottomless pit of names. The artists I follow heavily and have taken some form of inspiration from lately or within the duration of my career are: Jcruz, Burney (batdog), Matt Wilkins, Russel Murchie, Nisse, Amos Basilo, EZwheelin, Bossdog...this list can go on for a while. I am addicted to this work. I very heavily follow it.
How did the Conrad / Vulture Skateboard come to life? My good friend John with Volatile Merch and now Volatile snowboards (and skateboards) got ahold of me about some new deck designs. I had designed that vulture a couple of months before with no real home. Just wanted to try out some new ideas and colors. So we struck a deal and we came up with that skateboard. They’re nice boards. 100% maple blanks, solid graphics. I love them!
Do you have anything in the works that would interest our community? Oooh goodness...yes! But! I can’t really divulge all the info. Let’s say, I’ll be working very hard in 2019. Sleep is the cousin of death.
What is the hardest part about keeping creative? I can’t say I’ve ever felt like I lost my creativity. I have, however, felt like I’ve come close to being burnt out. I’d say it’s not easy to lose my creativity, but my motivation? Now that is a hard thing to keep sometimes.....Jazz cabbage and long walks in the woods. That solves most mental hiccups.
What do you consider as a perfect day? Honestly, I’m pretty chill. I don’t normally like to go where people go. I’d say some of my more favorite days start off with me getting my kayak in the river around 6 am. Fishing and floating til around 2. Go home, take a nap with my wife. Wake up, make a good dinner, and then ride in the evening for a couple of hours. Come home, get interplanetary and draw for 5 hours. That’s a solid day for me.
What is your best, have-to-go, can’t be missed, local establishment, and why? Oooh man...I live in Clermont County Ohio...uummm... Holtsman Donuts. Because donuts.
Would you like to thank anyone? This list is huge and will never be completed and that means a ton to me. First off my wife/color separation software. She puts up with a lot and has always had my back. The Mulligans, Phil and Jen, Andy and Kelly at Working Man Co, Willie, Tommy, Tramp Cycles, the Nielsens, Savannah, Cailin, John at Volitile Merch, the clam jam fam, ..everyone that’s ever bought a shirt I designed it a piece of wall art or a motorcycle tank. All the companies I’ve worked with throughout the years. The fact that people actively seek me out and commission me to do work for them. That truly means the world to me.
How can our readers see more of your work? Instagram: conrad_sr Facebook: Artist Conrad