We had the good fortune of connecting with Donnie Evans and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Donnie, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from Durham, North Carolina. Durham is a small city and there was never much to do other than party or get in trouble. When I was in high school, I was part of the party scene. After a while, it got old to me. I grew up and I wanted a change. Art had always been something I loved so I decided to take it more seriously. A lot of people who I grew up with are on bad paths in life or no longer with us. I knew I wanted something different for myself and I felt that through my art I could accomplish bigger and better things. I am thankful I made this choice because it led me to all the opportunities and people I have in my life today. My decision has also changed how people from my hometown view me. Instead of the party guy I am a dope artist.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My style of art stands out because of the way I draw portraits of people who inspire me. I draw them in graphite pencil, but do the background in color. Normally when an artist paints or draws a portrait, it is usually all color or all greyscale. I like drawing the faces in graphite pencil because it draws attention to the person featured. Beyond my portrait style, what sets me apart is that I am a networker who loves to talk to other artists as a way to further expand my craft. I got to where I am today because I got tired of wasting my life away. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I had to make a change. I was lost and art was the light the guided me towards the place I was truly meant to be. The best piece of advice I could give anyone thinking about making a similar change is, don’t be afraid to take risks. Confidence is key. Have the confidence to make the change, to take the next step, to want better for yourself, and to give yourself better. If you walk away from this article only remembering one thing about The Artist Donnie Evans, remember this: my art is about supporting and underscoring all of the immense beauty that is Black culture.
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?
If my best friend was visiting Durham for the first time, I would take them to the Tobacco Road Trail in the morning. Then we would go to the Museum of Life and Science and stop by a skate park on the way home. Later in the day we would go to a Durham Bulls baseball game. From there we would hit the bars. We would start with drinks at Boxcar, an arcade bar, then head over to Motorco. We would stay out all night and take some sunrise photographs at my favorite, downtown rooftop before heading home.
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?
First, shout out to my grandmother. She is the main reason why I am an artist. Ever since I was little, she always encouraged me to draw and create art. She even came to my very first art show. I also have to shout out my cousin Torreeka, who played a big part in me becoming an artist. She always pushed me to improve my drawing through practice. Growing up, we always used to draw together. Ryan Newman is one of my biggest inspirations because we both have the same upbringing as far as both of us being in the party group, then growing out of it and moving away to pursue our craft. My friend Ezra played a big role in my art career. He came to almost every show that I have ever had. He has always supported me. He always tells people about my art. He is an all around great guy.