A recently completed mural within the Edison District’s walkable community paints downtown Overland Park as the new hub for Kansas City, said Evan Brown.
The commissioned piece aims to grab attention, as well as signal the client’s vision of an up-and-coming space for a new generation of residents and workers who are driving the metro forward.
“I’ve been living in this area my whole life and so I kind of know how to map everything out,” the Crossroads-based “Doodle Dood” artist said of the process behind the expansive, black-and-white, deconstructed piece.
Edison District is home to Strang Hall, a chef collective-style food hall concept, as well as retail and office space near downtown Overland Park’s burgeoning residential and entertainment scene.
In planning stages for about a year, Brown’s now-finished mural is the culmination of critical word-of-mouth and public exposure that has buoyed much of his career success so far. The Edison District leadership team reached out about the project after seeing a similar map mural of the entire KC metro being painted by Brown in the Opus Group’s lobby in Kansas City, he said.
“They were in the office at the same time and they ended up thinking that I was a good fit for their new building,” he said. “Actually, the architect designed the lobby around where my mural was supposed to be.”
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It’s the latest in a string of commissioned murals for Brown — the maker behind Doodle Dood LLC artist studio — who brought color and life to such high-traffic hot spots as Parlor and the Iron District during milder pre-pandemic economic seasons.
“I don’t ever set up a projector — I freehand everything,” he said. “Actually, my entire business is freehand. I start with the roadmaps and then I fill in the space to map out where certain elements of the city would go, and I’ll just do quick drawings on the buildings in that location. So the whole framework is built in before I even start drawing the map elements.”
Muscle memory, body of work
Brown’s freehand drawing is supported by built-up muscle memory that comes from his almost three-year-long challenge to himself: draw every day.
He’s now nearing 1,100 days.
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“It’s kind of like a sport where you just don’t get good at basketball until you dribble a thousand times a day,” Brown said. “I do have a traditional education in illustration and animation [at the University of Kansas], combined with my interest in the doodle art style — which I think is pretty popping in the art industry right now.”
While the artist views painting on canvas as a priority, mural work has become a lucrative part of Doodle Dood studio’s business, he added, noting a new mural for the Harbortown Villas duplex complex in North Kansas City is now in the works.
“My end goal is to be primarily a painter, but the murals have grown on me a little bit as a source of income and they’ve served as a way for me to make a quick income as I continue to build my body of work for galleries and art fairs and whatnot down the road,” Brown said. “In the past year, I’ve done three or four commission paintings.”
Click here to follow Brown’s work on social media.
Mixing the palette
“Murals are just a piece of the pie, really,” he added. “I have my own apparel brand where I’ve partnered with a local screen printer. We have our apparel in Bunker and Halls out in Crown Center as well.”
Earlier this year, Brown signed a deal with Hallmark to introduce the clothing brand into 13 of its local stores as well, he said, noting prioritizing the business’s opportunities has been top of mind in 2020.
“Back in school, I really wanted to get into kids books and I actually wrote my own kids book and illustrated it, but I had set it aside so that I could spend some time building my brand. I’ve recently put a lot of emphasis on getting that book together,” he added. “I have some dummy spreads and paintings that I’ve been working on.”
Whether he seeks a publisher or has the book produced himself is up in the air as Brown considers his plentiful career options across a wide range of mediums and outlets, he said.
“That’s why I say that the murals aren’t going to be my end-all-be-all,” Brown said. “But they are fun.”