Going To Kansas City: A Place You Have To Find Yourself In

Sep 3, 2014

 “Going to Kansas City” is a series that shares the personal stories of how people came to Kansas City — and why they stayed.

Shane Evans standing in front of his Dream Studio on 31st Street. Evans painted stars on the side of his building, which has become a popular destination for people to have their pictures taken. People catalog the photographs with the hashtag #thatkcstarwall.
Credit Shane Evans

Artist Shane Evans first came to Kansas City from New York City in 1993, when he got a job working for Hallmark Cards as an illustrator. He worked at Hallmark for seven years before deciding to leave the company to become an independent artist. Evans travels and works all around the world, but continues to keep Kansas City as his home base.

Evans rehabbed a building on 31st Street in Midtown Kansas City, Mo., that he calls Dream Studio. Evans is a musician, and has written and illustrated numerous children’s books including Olu’s Dream, Chocolate Me!, and Black Jack. Evans sees his move from Hallmark Cards to being independent as a kind of graduation.

He says he learned a lot of valuable life lessons by being based in Kansas City.

Here is more about Evans and his "Going to Kansas City" story:

Name: Shane Warren Evans

Age: Ageless. If counting, 42.

Neighborhood/city: Hyde Park and 31st Street "corridor"

Came to Kansas City from: New York City where I was an intern for Rolling Stone. Before that I was attending Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Arrived in: 1993

Why I came: Hallmark Cards offered me a job.

First impressions: It was cool. It was a place that you knew you really had to find yourself in. You know New York is one of those places where you can have so many distractions that you don’t ever deal with you. So here it was more like, you know, really just space and time … it was interesting. I would continue to say ‘I like it,’ every day. I wouldn’t be like, ‘I love this place,’ I’d just be like, ‘I like it here.’

View today: It’s still cool … there’s like if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. But I believe if you can make it in Kansas City you can make it anywhere. 

The biggest surprise: Me. We had a Zulu brother come here from South Africa for a while. And we recorded the song "Olu’s Dream" together, based on my book … He really loved his time here. He really got a lot from the experience. So that camaraderie with other artists from a worldwide scope can happen here. You have a lot of different people from a lot of different places in the world that live here in this city. So you can always collaborate in this place that people think is out in the middle of nowhere. I’ve had collaborations with people from all over the world here.

What I miss: My family and friends. 

Why I stayed: It's where I am. I was born in Oakland, but didn’t stay there long enough. I was probably three when we moved to Buffalo, N.Y., and then Rochester, and then Syracuse for School. And then New York City, and then I came here. And even while I’ve been living out here I’ve been living in other places for a time. Like I lived in Oakland for a year, and I went back to New York for some months, but I always look at this as a good base.

Favorite thing to do in Kansas City: Listen. I also like to go to all the parks — like Loose Park. There are some parks right by my place in Hyde Park, and I went to Swope Park just a couple weeks ago. It’s awesome over there.

Next Kansas City adventure: I’m working on four different books right now, and am continuing to work on Chocolate Me as live animated series. I also just finished performing in a one person musical called 41st Day