Local Artists on the Rise: Tyree Johnson
The Downtown Denver Partnership is dedicated to celebrating local artists, creatives, and talented folks that make up our city. The Partnership’s very own Tyree Johnson, an artist, painted two banners hung at the 16th Street Mall.
1. Tell me about your journey to becoming an artist.
In the third grade, I learned how to draw. A lot of my inspiration came from Black magazines, like Vibe, the Source, and Ebony, [so] the magazines my mom had at the house. It was good to see Black artists at the time. I took all art classes in high school and learned graphic design, photography, and dark room. I attended an art college, and I studied digital photography.
2. Who and/or what inspires you? Why?
My inspiration comes from things I’ve seen and grown up with, so Black culture, 90’s nostalgia, anime, and Magna inspire me the most.
3. Is there something about your role that might surprise people? For example, your daily routine, odd responsibilities, unforeseen challenges/obstacles, etc.
The fact that I went to school for digital photography, and over the years I’ve fallen out of love with it, mainly because of the rise in social media.
4. What piece of advice could you offer to future female artists and creatives?
Do not worry about what other people think. It will cloud your judgment, and make you insecure, [so] just don’t worry about it. Whatever feeds your soul, go for it. Not all advice is bad advice, but sometimes I won’t speak about what I’m doing because I don’t want outside thoughts coming in; opinions can change everything.
5. Tell me about banners on the 16th Street Mall
I prefer to paint people, I like faces and people, and I find everybody interesting. I wanted to highlight Black people and Black culture, which is why the girl has Bantu knots and baby hair; I wanted to make sure you get the aesthetic of a Black woman. On the other side, I was playing around with things I’m interested in, so the mushrooms remind me of toads from Mario Kart. It was a mix of things I enjoy, my culture, my nerdy side… I kept it bright to match the 16th St. Mall brand.