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May 6, 2004

{     Interview : Dave Kinsey     }    

Dave Kinsey and his crew BLK/MRKT have been handing out dummy smacks in the art world for years now. Orginally thought of as one of those "so hot right now" skateboard artist / grafiti types, Kinsey has proven his longevity with quality works of substance. Whether its throwing up burners on a wall or making fine art for the tea-and-crumpets set, Kinsey's style is immediately recognizable. This style is one that utilizes Kinsey's personal politics and social commentary alongside stylish portraits of tired, old guys that vaguely resemble my dad. Kinsey's influence, through his own work and that of BLK/MRKT, has left a sizable imprint on popular culture (his DC shoes logo has become the official seal for Pac Sun shoppers / Blink 182 fans everywhere.) I recently had a chance to talk with Dave about life, art, and orange poodle robots.

Eric: How would you describe your art and what would you say is the underlying theme?
Dave: My art can be described best as the way I see the world. My underlying theme is to challenge ones consciousness. UNLEARN.

With your latest series of unlearn/rethink pieces, what is it that you're trying to say?
My most recent work is actually a reflection of the work I was putting out 6 years ago. A revisiting and enhancement. Still putting forth the same voice through my work.

Has BLK/MRKT run into any problems with its clients over its social/political outlooks?
Not at all. People respect our artistic ways, techniques and what we offer. We do have to tone it down a bit sometimes.

Can we expect any special political messages from you in this critical election year?
Yes, I plan to do a pro-Kerry poster. It's imperative that he wins. Actually, I'd better hurry up.

You grew up around Pittsburgh, moved to Atlanta, and then California where you formed BLK/MRKT. How much influence did each environment have on your art and what effect did each move have?
The experiences I had within each environment had a lot of influence on my work. Seeing so many people in various settings put everything into perspective for me. I think all the fast movement as well made life hard for me to sit still in. I think this is why I am so attracted to new things & discovery.

How do you separate/differentiate the art of Dave Kinsey and that of BLK/MRKT, or are they interchangeable?
I love them both. Doing my fine art gives me certain personal freedom with experimentations & expression and designing; parameters and discipline I may not have had if I just were a fine artist. I go back in forth between the 2 all day long.

How does your creative process differ between working on a personal piece and working on an advertising campaign?
When designing for someone else, in addition to my personal interpretation of the project goals, I have their objective & expectations in mind; when doing my fine art I only have myself to worry about. The goal is relatively similar in both cases because I don't believe in compromising anything I do, no matter who it's for, it would only sour a project for me. That said, I would never lend my personal fine art style to something I do not believe in.

What have been the dominant influences on your art? What is it that motivates you?
Growing up in various cities around all kinds of strange people has been a dominant influence. Seeing street artists 10 years older then me doing work that would blow your mind was another. Motivation for me comes from having creative freedom and the time to create.

Is art still fun?
Hell yes.

Where do the streets fit into all of this?
They have shaped my style.

What other mediums are you interested in working with?
I really love working with music and video, maybe someday I'll take some time.

Do you find that some critics tend to trivialize the work in these circles? I've read in many interviews where you've been asked if you could see your pieces in more "established" museums. I've always seen this as somewhat condescending? What's your reaction to this sort of thing?
Yes, there is a tendency to get labeled as a skateboard artist or a graffiti artist and it does tend to be condescending and frustrating. Especially when it's simply not true, or as time goes on, no longer true. On the other hand, I've seen plenty of instances where the artists (or curators) themselves label urban-influenced artists as a "subversive" lot and act like the last thing in the world they would consider is a slot in the Whitey Bienniel. It's a bit odd right now.

Until recently you've gotten criticism for a lack of females in your work. Was it a conscience choice to include women in your recent work as a way to silence critics or did it just happen to go down that way?
I think I just happened to go that way. I like a lot of texture and lines in the faces of humans. This is something more common and easier to find in elderly or world-weary men. Women, as I see them, are often too soft for what I like to highlight, but I've had a great response to the women I've drawn and I plan to do more. There is a sexiness that I like to bring out.

BLK/MRKT was founded after "observing the widening gap between corporate marketing techniques and the youth market." That being 7 years ago? How are still bridging the gap?
I feel that as younger generations infiltrate the marketing world, the gap is naturally going to decrease, especially as people raised in the 60s, 70s & 80s take over. There seems to be a younger mind-set among adults of those eras. But there will always be a new challenge with each new generation of kids coming up, so who knows? Maybe the next group of kids will want to be talked to by orange poodle robots, you gotta stay in touch. I surround myself with like-minded people open to new things and try to break any mold that starts to harden.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Have a great day!

Extra special thanks to Jana for the exclusive photos of Dave's latest work! Thank you Jana!



Excellent interview with a fabulous artist and thinker! I'm glad someone else out there is giving dues.. good job swisher sweets.

Posted by: c. angeL gore at May 11, 2004 3:01 AM

props on that one, kinsey is one of the best things the art scene has to offer

Posted by: Ben M at August 20, 2005 10:15 AM
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