Art Attack

This artist's paintings of Conor McGregor have gone viral

Geo Thomson talks to The42 about his career and how his Notorious artwork went viral.

IMG_1474 Geo Thomson with the first two of his McGregor Trilogy from UFC 189.

GEO THOMSON IS a busy man. So busy in fact that he was forced to turn his phone off last night because he wasn’t getting any work done with all the Twitter, Facebook and email notifications he was receiving.

This makes a nice change for the Scottish artist who only a few years ago admits to struggling to make enough to get by.

While things have improved a lot in recent years, Thomson says he has never experienced interest like this.

The reason? Conor Anthony McGregor.

“I’ve done a lot of Conor McGregor paintings, he’s one of my favourite fighters to paint,” Thomson told The42 today.

“Since the weekend, It’s just blown up. I’m actually trying to paint another McGregor painting right now and I can’t do it because my phone hasn’t stopped going off with Twitter and Facebook.

“I actually turned it off last night ’cause I was sick of replying to people. I eventually just had to copy and paste a reply to everyone saying ‘look, they’re not for sale at the moment but I’m going to be painting a lot more in the near future and just keeping checking my social media for details.

“And I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like this before, the impact those paintings have had.

“The reason why people are so interested in him, I think, is because he’s just a regular guy and everybody can either see a part of themselves in him or they want to be him. I’m too old for fighting now, but he’s the type of person I would like myself to be.

“It’s his confidence, the way he’s carried himself and I’ve followed his career, he’s been like that since the early days in Cage Warriors and everybody knew he was special then and he’s proved it now.”

IMG_1456 Thomson at work in his studio. Geo Thomson Geo Thomson

And though they’re not for sale just yet, the artist believes — based on his other work — a signed McGregor piece would be worth in the region of “ten grand”. That’s Sterling too.

He has not always had it this good mind:

“It used to be tougher. When I first started doing this it was going really well but then the recession hit.

“I really struggled when that kicked in and I was robbing Peter to pay Paul and I was literally selling stuff just to buy materials to be able to paint the next one.

“But I weathered the storm and, right now, I always seem to have a waiting list [of commissions] so it’s great.”

Despite his early start in the art business, Thomson flirted with other careers before making his way back to painting.

“I’ve always been into art, even when I was at school I was selling paintings. I joined a studio when I left school at 15 so that’s, what, 30 years ago now.

“I had my own business when I was 18 and I kind of fell out of it, got back into it, fell out again and eventually went to art college when I was 26. I got a job after that, working in an office but it just wasn’t for me.

“Then I was a chalkboard artist and, about eight years ago I suppose, I started to do paintings. I’m a big sports fan, a big Celtic fan but I’m also a big boxing and MMA and I love my UFC.

“I just graduated into doing the sports paintings from that.”

Thomson’s first sporting creation was of Mike Tyson, who has since become a fan of his work and the 45-year old says that painting and meeting sports stars still gives him some butterflies, even if he’s gotten more used to it over the years.

“When I first started off I was more interested in movies but my first painting would have been one of Mike Tyson.

“It was amazing to meet him but he’s dead quiet. I’ve met him a couple of times now while he’s been signing stuff and he’s told me he loved my paintings so that’s great.

“I’ve done a lot of boxers. I’ve painted Barry McGuigan and Steve Collins. Collins was great, he came into my studio and he was a great laugh.

“A lot of people on my waiting list would be sportstars and celebrities and when you first meet them or talk to them on the phone you’re a little overwhelmed but then you realise how nice they are.”

“I still get butterflies the odd time mind.”

IMG_1462 Thomson with another of the McGregor trilogy. Geo Thomson Geo Thomson

As for how Thomson creates the images, you can sense his frustration that there are those who suggest it’s just image manipulation.

“My style has sort of slowly evolved over time and there are a few people who have a similar style to me but you can tell their work has been manipulated in Photoshop or something.

“I use acrylic on canvas and you’ll have people on MMA forums and stuff saying that I haven’t actually painted it, that I’ve just manipulated a photo or something but they are paintings.”

knockoutartcouk / YouTube

And while Thomson has at least one more McGregor piece to complete, he also has other UFC interests including both Michael Bisping and Stevie Ray who fight this weekend at UFC Fight Night in Glasgow.

“I’m friends with Michael Bisping and he’s going to sign a few I’ve done of him at the UFC event this weekend and I actually sponsor a few of the UFC guys like Stevie Ray who is also fighting on Saturday night.

“I’ve been sponsoring him since he was fighting in front of 300 people so it’s great to see him in the UFC.”

You can see more of Geo Thomson’s work on his Twitter page.

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