There are all kinds of different street artists and graffiti artists in Denver, when you start looking hard enough you notice the things that set them apart, some have amazing text or lettering, others have amazing characters. But one in Denver, is well known for transforming walls here with vibrant colors and paying tribute not only to heroes but simply to friends as well.
That man is Thomas Evans from Georgetown, South Carolina, better known in Colorado and the world as Detour.
Raised in the military shuffle, he became an avid collector of not only things from everywhere but also experiences and moments, all of which play into his gigantic portfolio for the art he does now in Denver.
Most know him for his gigantic swirling portrait murals across America and the portraits he did for the David Letterman show, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction." But did you know he constructs musical instruments that are also contemporary art and can be played by the public? Or that he worked with Ancestry.com and Paul Hamilton on the “They Still Live Project”? Maybe you saw his book, Be The Artist: The Interactive Guide to a Lasting Art Career, at your local bookstore?
Make sure you check this guy out as he is making waves in the art world on a global level and is still taking time to beautify 5-points, and sit down with the Library in-between projects to answer some questions about books and art.
Detour on Art, Books, and Libraries
- What book as a kid, influenced your imagination to pick up a crayon and begin making art?
I was always making art but I can definitely say that Dr. Seuss really inspired me when I was growing up to be I think like most artists I was fascinated with Dr. Seuss and the strange illustrations that were in all his books but I liked the stories of the Goosebumps books and was also really into coloring books, for obvious reasons. I think the 3 of those kept me busy until my early teens when Marvel dropped the X-men. I loved the stories of the misfits of superhero world and they were really the beginning of me picking up pencils and pens to try to emulate the characters and colors that those comics brought into my creative world at that age.
- What book are you currently reading that influences you in either a creative way or a professional way?
Currently I am reading one of my favorite authors, Malcom Gladwell and his awesome Talking to Strangers novel. It studies miscommunication, interactions and assumptions people make when dealing with those that they do not know. He uses examples from history like, the trial of Amanda Knox; the Brock Turner rape case; Sylvia Plath's death; to show what is called "Default to truth" or the trusting nature of certain humans and the effect it has on their environment.
- What do you think is the most important resource that Libraries provide to you as an artist?
I love that Libraries have online learning resources. I have used them so many times to learn stuff about computer programs and secondary language tips. It is cool to have free education resources like that, that are just a click away. I have also made use of the historical archives in the Western History department to research pioneers in the building of the city as well as architectural movements in Denver’s past. The vast archives and helpful staff in that department are a lifesaver for research into the city of Denver.
- What is your current/favorite/most-used branch of the Denver Public Library?
The Blair-Caldwell Library is my favorite for a few reasons. It is like 2 blocks from my studio so it is a go to for research as well as offering a gathering place for artists and project people to meet and discuss ideas with a sort of 4-walled Google around them if any questions arise. They also have the African-American Research Library upstairs, which is true gem for not only the culture but also for researching or just reading about some of the amazing African-Americans that helped shape our nation and Denver.
I would love to get some of my pieces in that Library someday.
- If you were offered a gigantic wall on the outside of a Library, what would your paint to display what a library means to you?
Normally I wait until I am in front of a wall to see how it feels to me and take stock of what is going on around us as a city and a country before I decide what I am going to paint. I feel like a character I would love to put on a Library would be Paul Hamilton; he served the Five Points neighborhood as a Colorado State Representative from 1969 to 1973 and has one of the biggest collections of African art in the US. I collaborated with him and Ancestry.com to create “They Still Live,” an exhibit that combined photography, African art and ancestry and think he deserves a giant wall in Denver. What better place for a teacher and art-collector than the side of a Library, the man is a walking resource.
Ex Libris: Denver Artists is a series featuring local street artists, focusing on their connection to books and the importance of libraries to the artistic community. Series concept and interview by Sean Ryerson.