Photos by Lauren Dunn.
Pittsburgh-transplant Dylan Lavier Evans, also known as LAVIER, is a Boone, N.C.-based graphic artist, musician, producer and all-around insatiable creator. When he isn’t pouring himself into some meticulous illustrative excursion, or eeking deceptively saccharine sounds out of brainy electronics (which is most of the time), one is likely to spot him lounging proverbially outside of the Espresso News coffee shop in Boone, with a crew of endearingly odd so-and-so’s gravitating around him.
AMPLIFIER’s Devon Tuttle chatted with Evans about cutting his teeth as a young artist in Pittsburgh, the charms and limitations of a one-horse town’s art scene and not quite knowing what to say when his peers bring up Dragon Ball Z.
[Devon Tuttle] First of all, I’m new to this. Is there anything in particular you’d like to ask me?
[Dylan Lavier Evans] [He laughs.] Well, how did you first get involved with AMPLIFIER?
[DT] Well, I was the sound guy for an AMPLIFIER-sponsored show at our local burrito joint, Black Cat, and it’s at events like those where I’ve met people like Seth Trump and Chris Deverell who have also contributed on behalf of Boone. I am a relative stranger to AMPLIFIER, but here I am trying on a new hat. But, enough about me.
[DLE] Yeah, that’s all the questions I’ve got. [He laughs.]
[DT] So, who are you, Dylan? That’s a loaded question, I know. Think of it more as an elevator pitch, if you will. 20 words or less… Go!
[DLE] I’m a musician and visual artist. I try to live pretty much 100 percent in the music and art realm, so those two descriptors really define me.
[DT] Cool! That was more than 20 words. I’d like to try something a little different by letting you guide the interview. What is a question you’d like to be asked? A good starting point.
[DLE] Damn it. [He laughs.] Perhaps, “Tell us about your artistic background.”
[DT] Right on. Tell us about your artistic background with the addition of: Why Boone?
[DLE] I’ve been drawing since I was very young. I actually am really awful at talking about Spongebob, Dragon Ball Z, kid stuff, etc., and I think it’s because I spent most of my time doodling instead of watching TV. I don’t think that’s really a good or bad thing, just kind of funny now that references to those things go right over my head. I became serious about art when I got involved in my high school’s art program and started doing various design things for a band I was in. After a while, I started branching out and doing work for other bands as a way to make some income and gain experience. While doing commission work, I also took time to build my personal portfolio and spent the semester after I graduated high school to do several art shows in the Pittsburgh area where I grew up.
[DT] Man, I wish I spent more time playing a damn guitar in stead of watching Dragon Ball Z. Good for you, man. Did you have plans to go to school for art?
[DLE] It was actually a really big decision for me not to pursue art as a major in college. Music plays an equally large role in my life, so I instead came to Boone to attend Appalachian State for their music industry program. So far it’s been really great. The people here are super receptive to both my art and music in comparison to a big city like Pittsburgh, where it can be easy to look over.
[DT] I can definitely see that. Smaller communities seem to bolster artists a bit more than the metropoles of the world. So, it seems like your art and music are pretty inextricably interwoven. Personally, I think that quality can really set an artist apart from his/her peers. Is it too predictable to ask about your influences?
[DLE] Predictable, yes. But I feel like it’s to be expected and you can’t really be blamed for it. [He laughs.] This one’s actually tricky for me due to my embarrassingly small knowledge of famous artists.
[DT] No, that’s good! Just talk about whatever the hell influences you—that’s atypical. Perhaps your music influences influence your visual art, too?
[DLE] Honestly, I was a super bad student in art history. I feel pretty weirdly about it now because questions like this always stump me. [He laughs.] I’m really into Swoon and Shepard Fairey. They both carry a strong message with all of their work. I’m more influenced by small time artists who I’ve met along the way. Boone has tons of people who are killing it at what they do and that always inspires me to stay on my game. This is going to sound very, very typical, but things in nature also creatively inspire me. I’ve had the opportunity to see so many gorgeous things down here and a lot of my work is like a mental snapshot of those sights that I idealize in order to capture a certain mood.
[DT] That totally makes sense. Have you experienced an ungodly Boone winter yet, though? Do you think that will… inspire your work? Because you know, it’s coming.
[DLE] Yes, I have. I think there was a wind chill of -20 when I came down here. I actually walked a mile from my dorm to a house show on my first night in town and that really gave me a taste of how winters would be. [He laughs.] Mentally, winter tends to affect me negatively because I spend my time being holed up indoors. That being said, more time indoors means more time creating. So in that sense, I guess it’s a positive thing.
[DT] Yes, that Boone isolation-hibernation complex has certainly gestated some interesting local creative output over the years. So, we know some of what influences you, but how would you describe the particular style or vibe of your own art, visual or otherwise?
[DLE] I work almost exclusively in pen. My work is very detail oriented, and working in pen allows me to have the most control over my lines. I like to work small (usually 5 x 7 inches), again probably because of the precision involved. As far as subject matter is concerned, I love serene landscapes. I tend to get stuck on things for a few months at a time and then move on from them. Lately I’ve been working with lots of flowers, trees and other plant life. I enjoy hand lettering as well, and it’s something I wish I had the opportunity to do more in my commission work because it’s such a rewarding process. In contrast to my feel-good, natural looking work, I sometimes go off the deep end and make some really dark and sarcastic pieces. It’s a great way to be honest and true while remaining passive.
[DT] I guess creating something to be viewed and thought about actively by an audience is sort of redefining “passive.” I certainly get a mellow vibe form your work at cursory glance, but it definitely seems to have more intent than the neatness or serenity of the imagery conveys.
[DT] Tell me more about your experience in Boone and North Carolina. We’ve heard some of the reasons why you dig it. Can you think of any limitations? Do you see yourself being here for a while or do you have your sights set on other things?
[DLE] Hmm, that is a good one. Honestly, a lot of people here joke about it being a trap—which I think could be true because it’s such an awesome place. I feel like we’re on the edge of being a real commonly known art and music hot spot. I think everyone who lives here knows it, but I feel as if people from all over are going to take notice of how creatively rich this place is. I really hope that happens because I’ll never have a need to leave. That being said, I do plan to travel a good bit in the coming years just for sake of seeing and experiencing new things. Though, this place is and will be my home base for the foreseeable future.
[DT] In the interest of brevity, do you have any closing remarks or additional information for anybody interested in perusing your art and music?
[DLE] This is a bit paraphrased, but: Ever since I first came to Boone, I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about AMPLIFIER. It has always seemed super well put together and professional. It’s a huge honor to finally be a part of it, after admiring the organization for so long. Future plans with art include taking on more freelance work and doing more with my musical project, LAVIER. I’m trying to work to a point where I can pay bills solely from the income I receive while creating and performing. Big thanks to Seth Trump from Boone/AMPLIFIER, as it was his idea to put all of this in motion, not to mention he’s just a killer dude in general. Maybe this would be a good time to say something about my Etsy shop, where folks can buy original works and prints: dylanevansdesign.etsy.com.
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