Colorado native Tony Achilles and his awesome fascination with human skin
You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.
After spending much of his early career doing commercial art, Tony Achilles realized he was ready to dive into studio art headfirst. Right now, he's focusing his efforts primarily on the human form -- and despite his awesome fascination with a certain medium, his work is much more than skin-deep.
Boulder-born, Denver-bred Achilles has been doing studio art for "at least fifteen years, to one degree or another," he says. But to pay the bills, he's spent the bulk of his career making murals (like the one above), doing signage and creating all sorts of "commercial decorative things." And he's very modest when describing his work, because his commercial pieces are all over this town -- at Jonesy's EatBar, Inside Scoop Creamery, Tea Bar... you get the idea. Even when creating corporate art, though, Achilles has always tried to make the pieces as artistic as possible -- and when he found the work uninspiring, he took a break.
Mural at Swing Thai.
"Whenever I would start feeling unfulfilled in the decorative arts, I'd go to studio art and would get a job waiting tables to cover living costs," he explains, and then he'd return to the security of commercial gigs. He's always "had eyes for elsewhere," he says. "I've often thought I wanted to be in a more metropolitan city, but I've always had something keeping me here."
In the '90s, that something was Achilles's acoustic rock band, Sweet Water Well, an Americana endeavor that was well-received at the time and "so much fun," he recalls. As the band waned, Achilles moved to New Orleans for a handful of months, then returned to do a gig with Sweet Water Well and, he says, "got absorbed back into life in Denver."
Adds Achilles, "I've always wanted to get away, but I ended up staying and now, at this point, I'm just really glad to be here because Denver's such a great place."
Soon after his return to Colorado, Achilles made the decision to return to art, too. "One of the big reasons I left that media of music was that my heart was longing for art, and I couldn't seem to do both at the same time because art takes so much of my creative energy," he explains.
And so, while Achilles again found himself submerged in commercial art, the artist soon realized his passion was studio art and exhibition. That passion has now moved to the forefront.