Landon Richmond is best known for his painted art from his website and gallery, “Know No Truth,” and has a unique style that could be described as a blend of Salvador Dali, Tim Burton, and Marilyn Manson. This fascinating work focuses on darker aspects of life, whether that's depicting famous horror icons, omens of evil transmitted, or just the macabre.
As mentioned on his website, “Landon Richmond was born in the jungles of Florida, where he spent much of his youth fighting tigers, cyborgs, and dinosaurs. It was during those years of endless battle that Landon picked up a love of painting. His love of painting made him put down the spear and pick up the brush.” While this may cover the “No truth” aspect of his biography, the rest is the “known truth.”
Richmond’s mystifying work is not for the faint of heart, yet his “dark surrealist” art is hard not to stare at. He communicates what the essence of surrealism is through his own craft, explaining, “It’s dark on the forefront, those elements of darkness are used to tell a broader story connecting the abstract thought to the more concrete reality we live in.”
Richmond views the world as an indifferent and meaningless place, emphasizing that it is up to us to find our own meaning. For some, it might be a craft, it might be a person or family, and for others, it's religion.
“Because we have a meaningless, indifferent universe, that means that it's our goal in life, our purpose to create our own meaning and find our own path.”
Despite his focus on the grim and the morbid, Richmond considers his work as being “true.”
“People used to tell me my art was dark when I first hit the scene. I didn't know what they meant. To me, it was just normal and obvious stuff,” Richmond said. “But despite initially seeming dark, I feel my art is very much about being true and not superficial.”
He described himself as an eccentric and occasionally difficult child. Like many children and teenagers that grew up to be artists, he wasn’t immediately understood by everyone. It was 80’s slasher horror films that made him interested in the macabre.
“The first thing I drew was Godzilla destroying a city, and rivers of blood, which was very concerning to every adult in my vicinity,” Richmond said. “I was quickly drawn to horror movies even though I wasn't allowed to watch them as a little kid. I would go to the supermarket and there was a monthly horror magazine…I would look at those pictures and imagine in my head what those movies were about, which was usually more twisted than the movies themselves.”
The art of KnowNoTruth is not understood by everyone, and that includes Landon’s family. He mentioned his brother still thinks he “just paints skulls all day,” while his parents didn’t fully understand his artwork either. Despite that, his family has expressed withstanding support for his career in art, as they taught him the valuable lesson of how to run a business.
“I can be charming, and I was a good salesperson, but the more nitty-gritty aspects of business decisions weren't something that I had hardwired into me,” Landon said. “I was incredibly lucky to have a business-oriented family to help guide me to a functioning system. It doesn’t matter how much something sells if you can’t manage the money.”
His work may be dark, but it also sheds light on true feelings that are felt by most people. The unique surrealist artist acknowledges that not everyone will comprehend his work, but he lives by his own mantra, “if everyone understands you, then you're not doing it right.”
Richmond’s creative process is unique as well, as he focuses on the end goal at the beginning. He employs a “five-minute-rule.” This process is based on painting for five minutes, and at that mark he determines whether or not he sees a future in the work. He explains, “if I keep going, I do risk the possibility of ruining something I'm working on.”
This process speaks to the great challenge for many artists, knowing when work is actually finished and how to problem-solve while working.
According to Landon, “Every brushstroke you do can either make or destroy your painting. There have been a lot of paintings where it was pretty much done, but I wanted to do one more thing, and with that one thing, I ruined it.”
“I really do think there's an art to knowing when something is done... and that applies to painting and to other things, relationships, cooking a meal,” Landon said. “Sometimes we end too soon or too late, but those times where we stopped at exactly the right moment... Those are the best results.”
Before finding success in the world of art, Landon dropped out of college and initially sold art on the street in Boston.
His first day on the streets wasn’t an immediate success. “I was there for eight hours, and I didn't sell a single thing… and to me it was so crushing. I felt like quitting,” Richmond said. “Right when I was about to pack up, this guy that I barely knew, walked by and said, ‘oh my god, I love this. I need to buy one of these.’ And I sold one piece, which may not sound like a lot, but it blew my mind…all it took was that one sale.”
The following day there was a similar situation of not selling anything for nearly eight hours. He once again considered quitting. He wondered if the customer from the previous day only bought his work out of pity. While he felt discouraged at the end of the day, someone bought a piece from him and called his work “awesome.” After this sale, he knew he could do it from here on out.
Landon returned the following weekend and sold about 30 pieces of art, leading him to sell in more than just one area. As his self-confidence grew, so did the support of his artwork. He hired college students to sell his work on the streets of Boston. “It kind of became this underground thing,” he said, recalling that it “started its own art movement with other artists joining along.”
This success led Richmond to open pop-up galleries and kiosks in shopping malls. He eventually opened a gallery on the same street where he first sold his work about a decade later. Everything went well for about a year and half, until there was an electrical problem that caused a major fire in his gallery.
“This was a roaring Inferno with smoke so thick, you couldn't see past your elbow. I didn't want to abandon my art, so I kept trying to put out the fire before I realized if I didn't leave this building, I was going to die. When I evacuated that building, my hair was white from all of the ash. And then with hundreds of people behind me I watched my dreams literally burn down.”
While the property was insured, much of his art was lost, adding even more emotional trauma to this experience.
“What do you do when you watch your dreams literally burn down? For me that was just rebuilding your dreams.”
Landon opened an art gallery in Sarasota, FL and eventually transitioned to mostly selling work online and at arts and crafts shows. Despite having found continued success, he still plans to open another gallery in Salem, MA when “the time is right, as well as the location.”
Despite the grim appearance of Landon’s art, he views finding light in the darkness as a recurring theme in his work, and aims for beauty even if it isn't pretty.
“I think that a lot of people just want to be in the light right away, and they don't realize that the light is at the end of the tunnel. We have to struggle... we have to be challenged. We have to face failure and painful, scary dark things to reach true light," Richmond said. "Any light that's in front of the 'tunnel' is very superficial. You know what's in between us and what we want, are challenges and hardship. And I think my work is about being in that darkness trying to reach it (light)."
Lost, but In Memory
By Adam Spector, Feature Writer
Samantha Fencil, Editor
Visit Know No Truth: http://www.knownotruth.com/
Follow Landon Richmond on Instagram: @landon_richmond
Follow Know No Truth on Instagram: @knownotruth