We had the good fortune of connecting with Connor Muhs and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Connor, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I love this question. So many people will tell me “I can’t believe you would just move across the country without any family or friends. I just could never” or some variation of that. Most people will think of a courageous person and figure they are sure of themselves, that they know what they’re doing. The truth is, you must simply do, roll with the outcome, and grow from it. Courage comes after the act of doing and ONLY by doing. The more experience you have with “doing”, the more confidence you have in yourself that you can handle whatever the outcome is. If you find yourself without much self-assuredness, it could be because you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to try something “insane” or hard. Odds are, you can handle it. Have faith in yourself that you will adapt and overcome. In relation to my career, the whole journey has been a blind leap of faith. From the first time I decided to tattoo myself in my college dorm room to three years later, moving to LA to work as a professional artist in the most competitive, saturated city in the country. If I hadn’t decided to take that 27 hour drive to an unknown future, I wouldn’t have made the progress I did or learned near as much as I have in my time here. I can confidently say that I am a better artist because of who I’ve decided to surround myself with. Was the move hard and scary? Absolutely. Did I make it and even have a bunch of fun on the way? Absolutely.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am most interested in the human anatomy in relation to art. From a very early age this interested me. I was always drawing contour lines across my body before I knew what contour lines were. In school I took every art class I could, finding a particular passion for life drawing, or drawing the human figure. This led me to a bachelors degree in graphic design and an itch still to scratch with the human form. It was then that I got my first tattoo and it was like a lightbuld went off. I knew immediately I could and would do that (tattooing). Professionally or recreationally, I had no idea at the time. My tattoo career took on a life of its own pretty quickly, as I was a man obsessed. All my schoolwork slowly became about tattooing in some way or another; my body covered in fake ones, real ones, doodles draw on from lunch that day. It became an my life frankly, and I quickly exhausted my resources in my small college town. I saw an opportunity for bigger things out west and decided to make the move. The decision was easy, the move was difficult. The first shop I was at in riverside was less than hospitable. Don’t you hate it when that happens? I was pretty discouraged. And then the pandemic hit. I was holed up in my little LA apartment selling tshirts and watercolor paintings of flowers to housemoms on instagram. One day I walked into the nicest shop in town, clean white walls, big looming mirrors, colorful, carefully crafted masterpieces hung on every wall. I asked for a job and told them I’m willing to work. And work I did. Dark hearts, the name of the shop was under new ownership and my simplistic, minimalist style was appreciated and even considered creative. I was flattered and surrounded by great artists that care about their art. I’ve been here now for 1 year and 8 months and have loved it. I’ve learned a lot about myself and tattooing while out here, but once again I feel as though I’ve exhausted my potential here. Don’t get me wrong, I love the people I’ve met, but LA just isn’t the goal anymore. I’m moving south to San Diego tomorrow (nov 29th). Starting in a new shop and new city all over again. Part of me is tired and wonders why I’m doing this to myself again but I keep reminding myself how nice it will be to be a short walk to the beach and all the cool new artists I will meet and work with. It’s really a perfect example of how easy it is to feel like you’re drowning when you’re going through it but I know in the end its the right decision for me and my happiness. All of this to say, keep going, keep pushing. If you don’t like something, change it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to Mission beach in San Diego for a day of lounging in the sun and surfing in calm waves. Another day we’d hit the botanical gardens and Huntington art galleries in Pasadena. Boardeners on Hollywood Blvd., a fun little kink bar with the best burger I’ve had in LA. Finally Mount Baldy for a beautiful 7 minutes in heaven with Mother Nature.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Dark Hearts Tattoo in CA for giving me my first shot here out west. Ink Machine in Lincoln, NE for giving me my apprenticeship.
My friends and family who have been supportive me pursuing art even when its hard or confusing.
Monica for giving me the motto “I can, I will, I must” that drives me forward everyday.
Photos by me or Art Meza @artmezatattoos