Tennessee’s Daryl Thetford often uses more than 200 photographs to create one piece of his digital pop art.
Artist: Thetford grew up on a farm in Bradford, a small town in the rural northwest corner of Tennessee. His father worked in a warehouse, and his mother was a beautician.
While Thetford’s parents encouraged him to pursue “practical” avenues of work, they also recognized his early interest in art, and enrolled him at age nine in oil painting lessons — which he loved.
He later earned a degree in history from Union University in Jackson, TN, and a master’s degree in counseling from Murray State University in Murray, KY.
For the next 15 years, Thetford worked as a vocational program director, mental health center manager and therapist, before he made a career change at age 39.
Company/studio: Daryl Thetford, but he also uses Thetford and Shavin Art Enterprises since his wife, Dana Shavin, is also an artist and writer. Thetford has created a studio in a converted three-car garage space at their home in Chattanooga.
In the beginning: Started taking photographs of old diners, abandoned places, train cars with graffiti and a series of interiors of Mississippi juke joints — and showing them at outdoor festivals for several years.
Wanting to do more with his art, Thetford started combining images, like a guitar sign with graffiti from a train car, and creating more involved collages.
Eventually, he started digitally creating his own graffiti from old signs, handwriting and other words and images that he had photographed.
Art & materials: Digital mixed media collages, using various materials, including ink, paint and torn or weathered paper.
Themes in his colorful, textured works, include: Cityscapes, cowboys and women’s faces in contemporary culture. Works range from $750 to more than $20,000 for special commissions, though his average sale is about $4,500.
Thetford’s work can be found in many commercial and residential spaces across the country.
- Takes his own photographs of people, buildings, street signs, horses, words, and weathered painted walls.
- Selects single images from his digital files, and develops them.
- Starts digitally layering images.
- Finishes piece with paint, paper, collage and other artist media.
It takes about 40 hours to produce a single work.
Favorite tool(s): Photoshop, a cement trowel and paint brushes.
- Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Jean-Michel Basquiat for their freedom and seemingly loose style.
- Frida Kahlo for showing artists how to translate the personal into the universal.
- Shepard Fairey’s graphic style.
- Cecily Brown, who painted large murals inside the Metropolitan Opera House, in NYC.
- Kerry James Marshall and his life-size paintings on sail canvas.
- Hung Liu, who blended painting and photography and combined the personal and historical. Also her use of color.
Fun commission: An eight-foot-by-15-foot work with a Western theme for a client’s dining room in Sun Valley, ID.
Recent project: A series about his late father. It is titled: Forgive Us Wherein We Fail Thee: Death of the Old White Man. An image is pictured below.
What’s next: La Quinta (CA) Art Celebration, March 2-5.
Where to buy: [email protected].
- Chauvet Arts in Nashville, (chauvetarts.com).
- Allison West Brown in Clearwater, FL (allisonwestbrown.com
- Facebook: Darylthetfordartist
- Instagram: @darylthetford
- Website: darylthetford.com