As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and Denver’s residents are encouraged to stay at home — local artists continue to step up and inspire their communities through their work. One of these creators is Laura Thomas. Thomas’ mediums of choice are tattooing and chalk. Yet with the former closure of tattoo parlors, Thomas has spent the last couple of months focusing on her chalk skills. One of her works — titled “Hope Isn’t Canceled” — was recently covered by local news stations and shared extensively on social media.
“I felt the fear, frustration and depression from so many people over social media that were struggling during the beginning of this shutdown,” Thomas said. “I wanted to create something to remind people of hope, something to possibly take their minds off of their current troubles and be distracted by beauty instead. I created the design of ‘Hope Isn’t Canceled,’ prepared for its creation and made sure I had clear skies ahead. Then, I did what I do, and brought it to life.”
Thomas’ piece quickly received widespread attention from Denver’s residents. From being featured on television news stations — to having people stop by her home to take photos of her creation — Thomas is surprised by the support she has received.
“I wanted it to lift people’s spirits, but I had no idea how many people it would touch, let alone how far it would get,” Thomas said. “I’ve received responses from all over the country from people that saw the national news segment of my piece, thanking me for what I created, thanking me for reminding them of hope, that anything is possible.”
While “Hope Isn’t Canceled” is the cause of the uproar in attention Thomas has received — she has been an artist for years. Before the chalk and even before the tattoo ink — Thomas used art as way to express herself during her childhood.
“Art was my escape, my creative passion throughout a rough childhood. The older I got, the more apparent it was that art was my truest form of expression,” Thomas said. “Those that know me very well, know I have had in my short life a very hard life. I have overcome and survived things a lot of people don’t survive. I know in my heart that without art, I would not be here.”
As Thomas progressed into her adolescent years — she realized how difficult it can be to be a full-time artist. Having works entered into galleries is no easy feat, Thomas recognized. She, therefore, focused her attention towards tattoo art.
“It was the one art form at the time I could see an artist could make a living doing,” Thomas explained. “I ended up being at the right place at the right time and was offered an apprenticeship at The Blue Door Tattoo, where I have been an artist at for 14 years now and many more to come.”
Thomas also regularly does commission work for local shops and restaurants. But since the pandemic, Thomas has had to put much of her work on hold. Yet while social distancing and public health measures have caused many artists to struggle — Thomas still manages to look towards the positives. She wants to encourage aspiring artists to use this time to focus on their passions.
“Connect with like-minded people that share your passion and goals,” Thomas said. “Something I remind myself of often is there is always a way to figure out a problem, to overcome an obstacle.”
After completing “Hope Isn’t Cancelled,” Thomas has focused on a new project — starting her own business. While the full details have not been secured yet — Thomas hopes her business will be a way for everyone to create chalk art from home.
“It is more than a business or a passion project, it is my gift to the world, my hope in sharing art and helping people enjoy creating art as well,” Thomas shared. “It is a business that I will strive to push to a level of success that eventually I hope will also help other artists make money from as well.”
As Thomas continues to navigate the murky waters of the pandemic — one belief that keeps her motivated is the idea that art can create positive change.
“I have always felt since I was young, leading up to the woman I am today, that art, my art, and all forms of art holds the potential to change the world,” Thomas said. “Holding that belief close to me has been a driving force for my career and determination as an artist. It has taken me further than I could have imagined, and now, at this moment, I believe further than I could have dreamed. I don’t know what will come next, but I am ready.”
Laura Thomas can be contacted for commissions through her website. She can be found on Instagram. Her work can also be found for sale through the ILA Gallery. Finally, Thomas can be contacted about tattoo information through The Blue Door Tattoo.