The Colorado Stand Up Project recognizes the art of hip-hop in Colorado

A few months ago, the curious questions started circulating via tweets and Facebook comments. Everyone wanted to know where are these headshot sketches of Colorado's most notable hip-hop artists were coming from? Who was responsible for putting in so much artistic time for so many people?

The answer: Thomas Evans, a talented up and coming artist from Denver, is the mastermind responsible. He's also been working with Hip-Hop Congress, a primarily collegiate (although non-students are welcome as well) association dedicated to preserving education and community culture of hip-hop. Thomas's love and respect for hip-hop culture has shined bright, from his beginnings in Germany to his work here locally. We recently had a few moments to chat with Thomas about his sketch project, known as Colorado Stand Up, as well as upcoming projects with Hip-Hop Congress.

Westword (Rachel Romero): You're probably best known as an artist, and you have used mediums such as broken vinyl records and airbrush paint. How did you get your start within the art world and how do you chose your materials?

Thomas Evans: I always had an artistic ability. As a kid in a military family, I got the chance to move from city to city, and to make friends, and I used my talents in art. I became serious about art right after moving to Ramstein, Germany. I experimented with many tools, including 3D programs.

It was only when I used my first airbrush gun that I thought I found my go-to medium. Years after learning new airbrush techniques and about a thousand airbrushed shirts later, I moved to doing art on canvases.

This move allowed me to learn more about the traditional artwork and how the art community works. Ever since then, Ive been focusing on bringing a hip-hop and music into traditional art.

The way I choose materials is very simple. The cheaper and more accessible the material is, the more likely I'm willing to work with it. I really love working with the vinyl records because not only are they cheap, but they have so much meaning in terms of how they revolutionized America.

Ww: Most people have seen your pencil sketches of local hip-hop icons on Twitter and Facebook as part of the Colorado Stand Up project. What inspired this project, and how did you chose the people that have been featured?

TE: The sketches are actually made with a Prisimacolar pen set. Its about $10 at a local craft shop. Its a really powerful tool if you know about shading. I used them do a job I had for Vitamin Water, and decided I wanted to explore the pens more because the design turned out pretty dope.

While looking for a project that would bring the community together and represent all elements, I came up with a Colorado pride concept to work off of. For some reason if you're a dope artist and from out-of-state people give you love, but if you're a dope artist and [from here] local people take you for granted. This project had to counteract that. So I designed this project to show as much love and appreciation to the local community as possible.

Ww: Rumors have been flying about an eventual Colorado Stand Up launch party and also a screen print of the movers and shakers that you have drawn. Will there be an eventual end to the project, as a whole?

TE: Yep, there will be a shirt made with all the sketches and possibly a poster. We want people to go home with something they can represent the community with. Its similar to the Colorado version of the New York Yankees cap. When people wear it, they represent Colorado hip-hop to the fullest.

We plan to finish the project in mid-September and have a release party in October, before the cold weather comes, and this will give us time to gather sponsors. We will definitely let everyone know about it when we get a concrete date.

Ww: As a founder of Denvers chapter of Hip-Hop Congress, whats your vision for the association now and looking forward?

TE: This chapter of Hip-Hop Congress has far exceeded my expectations as to what was possible. Park jams, B-Boy competitions, MC battles, graffiti classes and deejay workshops organized by Hip-Hop Congress have helped foster a new generation of Colorado talent.

I honestly only got it off the ground and exposed Denver to the organization, but the leadership of Carlos Montoya, DJ Lazy Eyez and especially Spenser Bernard, have propelled Hip-Hop Congress as a go-to entity for the local community. If the organization is to keep on its current course, there is no telling to what heights we can grow the Colorado community.

See all of Thomas's sketches on the Colorado Stand Up Facebook page.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Rachel Romero