Evan Namkung is a Bend-based mural artist who is known for large, graffiti-style murals that utilize a bright and vibrant color scheme. Across Central Oregon, people can find examples of his work decorating and bringing life to many once-boring walls.
As a child, Evan was always creative, even if his creative pursuits were not necessarily artistic. “I would say that I grew up as a kid who was creative, not always in art necessarily, but more broadly,” he said. “I went to schools that emphasized arts and creativity, and even though I have never been through formal art school or training, I’m sure those early experiences influenced me and laid a foundation.”
Evan continued, saying that it was his introduction to graffiti and street-style art forms that inspired his leap into art, “It wasn’t until I really started paying attention to graffiti and street art that I felt inspired and started thinking about how I might create my own art and what stories I would want to tell,” he said. “I have these gigantic books of street art from around the world that I’ve had for years and years, and I remember looking through the pictures and thinking not just about the art, but also the place. Whether it was a wall, a fence, a door, really envisioning how the art had transformed these otherwise ordinary public places. That inspired me.”
This inspiration to transform normal public spaces to something special would eventually lead Evan to his career as an artist, but not until after he thought he had found a different calling; Evan went to college to become a clinical social worker (the only job he’s worked outside of art), and later found passion in becoming an ultra-long distance runner.
“Art was very much always a hobby for me, and there were long periods, often years at a time, where I wouldn’t even pick up a paintbrush or a sketchbook,” he said. “For a number of years I was also a long distance ultrarunner, and my training occupied most of my time and energy outside of work.”
Disaster struck when Evan tore his meniscus while running, and immediately found himself with more free time than he was accustomed to. “I started using art to fill that void, and as I spent more and more time with it began to consider the possibilities around sharing it and eventually starting to sell my work,” he said. “It was a process that never really had a clear plan, my goal was simply to see whether there were people out there who were interested and resonated with my art.”
During that time when he was diving into his creative passion, Evan was developing what would eventually become his own unique art style. Although his style has grown, shifted and evolved over the years, Evan does say that there have been some consistent themes he sees in his work.
“I would say that the commonalities throughout have been a tendency towards bright colors that often fall into a non-traditional palette, and a focus on deconstructing images of my subjects in some way, often through shape or tone,” he said. “More recently my style has become primarily focused on wildlife and animals as the subjects of my art, and looking at them through a lens of intersecting shapes.”
Evan continued, talking about his transition into mural work that heavily utilizes spray paint, “As my art has evolved I’ve also very much landed on using primarily spray paints as my sole medium, and completing larger scale work, often involving multiple canvases to create the feeling of painting a mini mural wall,” he said. “The colors and spontaneity involved with using spray paint are unmatched in any other medium, and using a paint that is inherently harder to control and more unpredictable makes creating my art a challenge that is more fun and exciting.”
Evan said that, in the simplest terms, his art conveys the way he sees the world. The subjects might be familiar, but he, “hopes to find a way of depicting things that people have never seen before, and make the viewer want to more closely investigate the way that different shapes interact to create a whole.”
He said that beyond that, Evan wants his art to uplift people and spread positive feelings.
In the near future, Evan is working towards projects of larger and larger scales, including public murals. He has a goal to make prints of his artwork more readily available for purchase. In the coming years, Evan wants to expand his horizon and see his art in more public places across the country, while also maintaining his creative freedom.
To see Evan’s work check out his website, evannamkung.com, and his Instagram, @evan.namkung. To get more up close and personal with his work, explore Central Oregon to find his murals and come into Layor Art + Supply for this November’s First Friday Art Walk, where Evan is the featured artist.