Denver’s Detour Paints Portraits for Jay-Z and David Letterman

Well-known and loved Denver street artist Thomas Evans — who goes by the moniker Detour — recently enjoyed a bit of national (and international) spotlight when David Letterman decided to feature his work at the start of his new show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. The new show, featured exclusively on Netflix, shows Letterman in an in-depth talk-show format with one guest at a time — and as the title of the show suggests, those guests are extremely famous. For each episode, Letterman wants the guest to be introduced with a stylized video or piece of art, created by an artist of his choosing.


We don’t know how (and neither does Evans himself) but Letterman contacted the Denver artist to paint a portrait of hip-hop icon Jay-Z, whose episode will air on April 6, 2018.  Along with that request, Letterman’s people also requested Evans paint one of Letterman himself. It’s not a far stretch to imagine why Letterman (and his people) felt drawn to Evans’ style, technique and individuality.

Looking at Evans’ repertoire of art in the last decade shows the evolution of an artist who not only found his own visual vocabulary but has continued pushing it and changing it for the better. We featured Evans as a Denver artist to watch this year because it seems like no matter what he does, he does it with grace, with skill and with just enough attitude to keep us on our toes.

READ: Denver Artists to Watch in 2018 

When Letterman contacted Evans, he was actually in France and not in Denver, participating in a month-long artist residency at La Napoule Art Foundation. He scrambled at first because his normal materials and tools for creating portraits were left at home, but after finding what he needed, Evans created two outstanding portraits and also managed to film the creation of Jay-Z’s.

About the process, Evans reported “I and another artist at the residence, Melody Copper, shot the video on my iPhone and GoPro. They needed video of the paintings being created. After compiling the footage and uploading it, [Letterman’s people] edited everything and released it Monday. It’s a really good look for me and I’ll be more than happy to add it to my portfolio.”

Jay-Z’s team also directly approved the art of the famous rapper and as of today, Letterman changed his Facebook profile picture to the portrait Evans painted of him. It includes Evans’ name and website for anyone who likes it to find out more. This kind of shout-out from a celebrity of Letterman’s caliber will undoubtedly launch Evans’ career into a new realm. But, we are still hopeful that Evans will stay in Denver, representing Denver, painting Denver’s walls — because we’ve loved him all along.


Photo courtesy of David Letterman on Facebook

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