A young, upcoming artist is drawing his future
The best kept secret in the Southeast, maybe in the whole United States, lives in Opelika. His name is Tevin Drake, and he is an artist. An incredible artist. So good, in fact, that even he does not realize how talented he is. It is only a matter of time before somebody who knows how to market a remarkable talent discovers Tevin, moves him to the big city, introduces him to all kinds of people who really appreciate his work and before we know it, the secret will be out. Tevin will be rich and famous, and we will all be saying, “I knew him.” So, before all that happens, I wanted to be sure to get his story out there, so you will know him, too.
Tevin first began drawing when he was in first grade. He would create two-dimensional drawings of cars, and his classmates would beg him to draw one for them. Then, he started tracing pictures, and friends thought he had drawn them by hand.
“I traced everything and would give the tracings to friends, who thought I drew them freehand, even though I never said that I did,” says Tevin. “Tracing actually helped me develop good habits, and I realized I didn’t need to trace, I could draw freehand.”
When Tevin entered sixth grade at Opelika Middle School, art teacher Stuart Daniel noticed the incredibly gifted artist he had in one of his classes. “I was teaching realistic drawing, and every technique I introduced, Tevin mastered immediately,” says Daniel. “I would show the class how to do a basic blend, and Tevin would take it one or two steps further on his own. He was doing work you don’t usually see until college age – at the earliest – and he was just 12 years old. I knew he was something special as soon as I started seeing what he could do; he was a prodigy.”
From that point on, in all his art classes at OMS and at Opelika High School, Tevin excelled. He was able to experiment with other mediums, like acrylics and oils, but found himself always going back to pencils, both graphite and colored. “I kind of liked oil paints because they were so easy to blend, but they took way too long to dry,” says Tevin. “I liked acrylics because they dried so fast, but they dried too fast for blending.”
Tevin won awards in every art show he entered while a student in Opelika, including first place in the Superintendent’s Art Show, all four years at OHS. Since graduation, Tevin has continued to perfect his talents, almost exclusively using graphite and charcoal.
The tools of his trade include super hard and super soft pencils (4H and 9B), different shades of charcoal, including white, a tiny sharpened eraser, a gel pen, cotton swabs and tissue. The work he does is so meticulous and detailed, that even the smallest piece takes hours to complete. Tevin prefers recreating a photograph, and although he can replicate almost anything into an original design, he has found a niche for drawing people.
“Most artists don’t – or can’t – do people, but I really like a challenge, so I have spent countless hours perfecting the finite details of skin, hair, eyes and other human traits,” says Tevin. “To snap a photograph takes about a half second, but a hand-drawn portrait takes many, many hours – and a whole lot patience!” Tevin says he has learned some tips from watching YouTube videos, but most of his skill has come from practicing and from being extremely OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) when it comes to his work.
“I’m not really good at following directions, so I watch videos to see what kind of tools artists are using and then I just figure out how to use them on my own,” says Tevin. “I’ve found the key is time; the more time I spend perfecting a drawing, the more realistic it will be. I cannot be in a hurry if I want to turn out something I’m proud of. I’m not happy with the commissioned work I do until the purchaser is happy with it.”
As Tevin marks his quarter-century birthday in 2017, he knows his future lies in a larger market. “People constantly tell me I need to charge way more than I do, but I can only charge what an Auburn-Opelika market will pay,” says Tevin. “I love living in Opelika; I’m very comfortable here, but I know for me to make it as a serious artist, I am going to eventually have to make a move – a big move.”
One day in the not-too-distant future, people will talk about Tevin Drake from Opelika; the talented artist who was finally discovered and made famous. And they will wish they owned a Tevin Drake original. Which reminds me, I need to place my order.
To contact Tevin Drake, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Tevin Drake Art on Facebook or @draketheartist on Instagram. You can also view samples of his work at Factory South in Historic Downtown Opelika.
Kate Asbury Larkin
Kate is a native of Opelika and is the outreach cooridnator for the Office of Alumni Affairs and the Auburn Alumni Association at Auburn University. She is a 1982 graduate of Ole Miss and a 1987 graduate of Troy State (now Troy University). Kate has two children, Anna Asbury, 27 and Bo, 25.