Local tattoo artist turns to murals and motivational speaking

Reporting and writing by Allyson Smith

“I am a multi-talented artist. I go by Dray 10talents Evans. I have more than 10 talents, as people find out,” Dray tells me on a Zoom call, while he walks down a path at the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm.

Dray has spent his life following his intuition and picking up whatever art form he feels drawn to, including drawing, airbrushing, tattooing, filmmaking, painting murals and motivational speaking.  

“In second grade, I used to draw stick figure army men and just having the bullets fly across the recycle-grade paper and having stuff blow up. I fell in love [with drawing] since then,” Dray says.

His intuition and humanitarian nature are driving forces in his life and behind his artwork. 

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“I live off of experience so just something that I feel intuition-wise or like, painting… I just go off of feeling, just trying it. Even filmmaking — my dad used to record everything we used to do, so we always had a camera. Stuff just leads to another so I just try it out and go for it… intuition and feelings,” Dray explains. 

Dray explains that his intuition isn’t necessarily louder than others’, but he listens to it, which many of us fail to do. 

“It’s just a strong feeling in your gut, and you know, a lot of times people don’t pay attention to that awareness of what’s going on around them. They feel something bad and just ignore it but it turns out to be a good thing,” Dray says.

His gut and motivation work in tandem when it comes to learning a new talent. “And that’s where my motivation comes in at. People who feel like they can’t do something, they’ve already failed themselves, thinking that way or saying that to themselves.”

Painting murals is one of the latest art forms Dray is mastering because it’s a way he can give back to the community. He started doing murals last year when a PTA member from Buchtel reached out to him and others to paint a mural for Mr. Pantry in Copley. Since then, Dray has worked on other murals, including one for the Akron Honey Company and some projects with Art X Love.

“That started everything, and other stuff just kinda fell in place to start doing it, but I’ve always had a heart. I’m a humanitarian, I don’t know if all Aquarius are like that, but it’s in my sign to help people, inspire people,” Dray says. “And akron as a whole, I feel like we lack culture, arts-wise, and that really inspired me to do murals.”

Dray spoke of his time spent in places like Cincinnati and Detroit, where, “You see these tall buildings, you see murals everywhere,” and wanted to bring that to Akron. “It just felt different. I would love for Akron to have that culture so we can raise our kids and even us, having a good time. That’s what inspires me to do that.”

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He says another part of his inspiration is the “lack of” inspiration he felt growing up in Akron. “I’ve been blessed to go on a lot of vacations growing up, so that helps me with having a different perspective. Being here in the city, you don’t see much of anything. Highland [Square] has a nice art place, they have a place in Middlebury. But it’s not much. Lock 3 has some stuff but it’s not enough for diversification.”

Dray feels that adding his artistic flair to walls and streets in Akron is also a way for him to give back, which is the most important thing to him. 

“My thing is to teach kids and give back. I would love to teach people everything I know. It’s not about money, it’s all about just helping people. [It’s]  deep, deep down in my soul to help people.”

Dray also explained that he feels called to explore a very different form of art: motivational speaking.

“Right now I do tattoos, but I keep telling people I”m stepping away from tattoos because it’s not my calling. My art is to teach, mentor. I have done teaching segments. It’s like, OK, I went and talked to these kids here, or I did something at this event, so it’s like a one-and-done event, but I have a big vision, a dream, a mission, to build my own thing and teach kids that way.”

Dray shares the wisdom he has gained in life on his YouTube channel, sumpn2ride2.

“I teach from experience. Most of it is from what I experience or what someone else experienced, but most of it is from what I experienced, and I will share that as motivation. Most of the time, people who share motivational speaking, they’ve already been through and made it… and basically, you’re walking with me through this journey.”

Dray listens to his gut, which tells him that this is his calling and he’s going to make a huge impact with it. 

“I can see myself speaking to thousands of people, I can see myself being big on YouTube, talking to people that way. It’s all about giving back right now,” Dray says. “And it’s been on my heart for so long, I’m in a different place right now. Like, this glow that you see? It just came as of late, like the universe lined up for me and I’m taking advantage of it. I’m going through my caterpillar stage and becoming a butterfly.”

Photos: Used with permission from Dray Evans. 

Allyson’s background is in media production and anthropology. Her hobbies include coffee, traveling, and taking months to read a single book.