When it comes to artists, many would like to be considered someone who can do it all. Dave Kinsey, an almost excessively accomplished designer and fine artist has done just that. From shoes and music to murals and corporate designs, Kinsey has managed to dip his brush into practically everything. He hails from the east coast, but his work has stretched across Europe, Australia, and beyond. In an effort to bring the artistic integrity of advertising back to life, he created BLK/MRKT, a design company that exhibits artwork in various venues, galleries being the most recent. From creating books for the hopefuls to crafting designs for an environmental cause, Kinsey continues to stamp his name on anything that has artistic potential. And for him, thatâ€™s everything.
“I believed then, and still believe, that youâ€™ve got to respect your audience if you want to get their respect in return. We set that forth as our goal and it worked.”
Format: You grew up on the east coast in Pittsburgh, what exactly was it that made you move to California after you finished school?
Dave Kinsey: I mainly grew up on the east coast but I had lived in California for a few years when I was a kid and I just knew Iâ€™d be back someday. Out of art school, I was offered an art director position and moved to San Diego to work for DC Shoes, Droors, Dub, and Blunt snowboard magazine. I was really hyped to be back in Cali, needless to say.
Format: What was the first big project you did that paved the way for your introduction to the world? In other words, what do you consider to be your big break?
Dave Kinsey: Well, I designed the DC logo, but really, it was a series of projects that sort of built a foundation that started to get positive attention. This lead to bigger and bigger projects until, eventually, BLK/MRKT, my design company, was hired to redo the Mountain Dew can and that seemed to really set things off in the corporate arena.
Format: BLK/MRKT was founded to bring art to the public among other things. How has BLK/MRKT achieved this since its founding?
Dave Kinsey: Initially, in 1997, BLK/MRKT was about putting art back into advertising. I believed then, and still believe, that youâ€™ve got to respect your audience if you want to get their respect in return. We set that forth as our goal and it worked. We basically developed creative advertising design and campaigns that had a super-effective visual message. Later, in 2001, we started the art gallery and that added a whole new dimension to the company; my partner and I were also interested in fine art, so this was a logical area of interest for us.
Format: You often use similar colors in your portraits. Do particular colors (red, orange, blue) have a particular relevance in your works?
Dave Kinsey: In my most recent series of paintings, Iâ€™ve been exploring the tension created by using complimentary colors and the visual dimension that creates. When it comes to using certain colors, Iâ€™m drawn to creating moods that are striking as a way to communicate the energy of the ideas or emotion Iâ€™m trying to convey. Iâ€™m not married to a certain palette though; itâ€™s just the phase Iâ€™m in at the moment.
Format: It was written that your purpose is to capture the human condition, please elaborate.
Dave Kinsey: Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™d say my purpose is to capture anything in particular, but the concept of a universal human condition is something that I find complex and intriguing.
Format: Which of your portraits or exhibits have one of the strongest underlying meaning in relation to the universal human condition?
Dave Kinsey: As far as exploring this, Iâ€™d say my painting â€˜Unintended Consequenceâ€™ is pretty powerful. In a broad sense itâ€™s about the dire consequences of the disruption of the natural order of our planet as a result of humankindâ€™s interference and the gradual depletion of the Earthâ€™s resources that renders us ultimately helpless.
Format: The â€˜Year of the Womanâ€™ portraits attracted a lot of attention last year. What does that portrait mean to you?
Dave Kinsey: The title of this piece references the year 1992 when something like five women were elected to the United States Senate, but the portrait really was a nod to Hillary Clinton and the strength I saw in her as a female figure in todayâ€™s society.
Format: If someone hung it in their house what would you want to pop in their minds every time they see it?
Dave Kinsey: Strong and dignified, yet caring and compassionate. Iâ€™d be psyched if feminine strength and compassion popped into peopleâ€™s minds when they see it.
Format: â€˜Audacityâ€™ is one of your latest releases, please elaborate on the emotion that you were trying to portray with the use of zebras.
Dave Kinsey: This print was created from the original painting â€˜The Audacity of Hopelessnessâ€™ which was basically a comment on the futility of struggle â€“ the more you fight the more you become the same. Or it could be about the recent Black Friday where a shit-load of people stampeded each other to get to a department store sale leaving someone dead on the floor. I donâ€™t know. I honestly prefer to leave my work somewhat open to interpretation. The use of Zebras as a metaphor is not meaningful in and of itselfâ€”it could have been tigers or beetlesâ€”I just thought the dynamism of the stripes would allow me to visually convey what I was after.
Format: People who follow your art can identify it anywhere. If you could go off on a tangent and do a project that was different from your recognizable style what would it be?
Dave Kinsey: I actually have fun going off on tangents all the time in the design studio. Not many people know that I created the NERD â€˜brainâ€™ logo, the Black Eyed Peas â€˜Elephunkâ€™ icon, DC Shoes and Epitaph logos, and conceptualized the branding of the 2005 iPod campaign. Itâ€™s a lot of fun to be able to switch it up in the design arena, but my fine art will always reflect a certain sensibility and style.
Format: Youâ€™ve hosted exhibitions in Paris, London, Germany, and other international locations. Where would you like your work to take you in the future and how do you want it to be different than any of your other presentations?
Dave Kinsey: Iâ€™d love to do a show in the Middle East; I think thatâ€™d be pretty exciting. Iâ€™m not sure how different the work would be, I guess weâ€™ll just have to wait and see.
Format: If your works had a soundtrack what would be one of the songs that were on it? What song best represents the art of Dave Kinsey? Dave Kinsey: I canâ€™t think of just one song but I can say itâ€™s best represented in the sounds of Led Zeppelin, Electrelane, and Ã‰dith Piaf.
Format: What are you working on now and what can we expect from Dave Kinsey in the near future?
Dave Kinsey: Currently Iâ€™m working on some design projects, including creating artwork for a benefit in Tokyo to bring awareness of the shark-finning crisis. Iâ€™m also producing prints for BLK/MRKT Editions and beginning my next series of paintings that will be exhibited next year in New York.