Rand Carlson

All children are artists. When I was a child I’d draw on my mother’s grocery lists, and when family would come over I’d draw everyone. Most children stop drawing when they’re 12 or so – I never stopped.

I was born in the fall of 1949 in San Mateo, California. Our eventual family of five moved around the San Francisco Bay Area – Palo Alto, Mountain View, and then to Cupertino in 1963. I started cartooning in eighth grade and published my first cartoon in 1966. All through high school I did art projects of various kinds with friends. After graduating, I went to art school in Oakland and was pulled into the scene that was unfolding in San Francisco.

I moved to Tucson in 1971 when a friend enrolled at the UA and soon grew to love the high desert and all the adventure it offers. I started painting outdoors while camping in the late 70s, experimenting with mediums and subject matter. 

I majored in architecture, but back in the day you could audit upper division art classes at the UA, and I did so to experience the talents and auras of Doug Denniston and Bruce McGrew, both influential UA art professors and heroes of mine. 

After graduation, a series of art director jobs propelled me into the thick of a creative renaissance in photography and illustration in Phoenix in the 80s, where I was fortunate enough to meet and work with some amazingly talented people. I began to paint seriously in the early 80s. After a few years, I started a freelance graphic design business and moved back to Tucson, where I began painting primarily landscapes. I’d go fishing with my friends in the White Mountains and I’d always take a little kit with me. It became a habit – since then I’ve painted everywhere I go.

I’d never stopped cartooning,  and I was lucky to find receptive editors – I’ve drawn a local comic strip, “Random Shots,” for the Tucson Weekly since 1987. 

I married in the mid 90s and my wife and I moved to Sedona, where my studio abutted the forest boundary with incredible views. My painting ramped up substantially in Sedona, but we moved back to Tucson after a few years. I missed my Tucson people.

In 2003, I began working in repurposed tin I found in thrift stores using car letters scavenged from wrecking yards. After working for years as an art director and illustrator doing art on computers, I wanted to try producing 3-D objects. The Tin Art is a sort of translation of my 2-D work. Its unexpected success startled me into the world of small galleries and art fairs. The pandemic put a halt to most of that, but painting remains a constant. 

Single since 2004, I am currently cabin-hopping in forests – mostly in Arizona – with my dog Abbey.