Though Dave Kinsey has been called a street artist, he’s more likely to place himself in the fine art and design world. Mostly, he says, his work is about what it means to be human.
“I work in both areas: commercial pop-culture and urban contemporary fine art,” he says. “I try not to stray too far towards one or another. I’d rather not have people define what I am, actually.”
Kinsey, who was born in Pittsburgh, moved around the East Coast almost constantly as a child. After studying fine art and design in Pittsburg and then Atlanta, he made a permanent move to the West Coast, which seems to have been calling him all along.
“The rain on the East Coast is sort of tormenting,” Kinsey says. “I like it better out here. The weather is more conducive to making me happy.”
A true Kinsey fan, however, will cross her fingers that he doesn’t get too happy; his characters are sort of a collective poster child for Melancholy. Kinsey’s work combines the aesthetic rigor of a man with a long list of corporate clients (BLK/MRKT is his creative agency), the color palette of someone who remembers that earth came before pavement, and the unsettledness of a boy whose father never “got” art.
“Moving around a lot as a kid made me move around a lot as an adult,” Kinsey explains. Now firmly planted in Los Angeles, Kinsey’s movement has become internal, an engine that steers him between fine art, street art and design.
On dividing his time between his own work and his design-for-hire, Kinsey says that “each one lends itself to different forms of enjoyment. My fine art feels good because it’s my ‘thing,’ but I like the challenge of working within the curriculum of a project as well.”
In his painted room, Kinsey’s goal was “to create something to make you feel good in the room, not something overwhelming and distracting.” After spending a few hours exploring several different rooms in the hotel, Kinsey finally found one that felt right for his work. “I was initially inspired by the way the light came into this particular room—I created the piece based on the energy I felt there.”
“I think that it was helpful that I’m also a designer,” Kinsey says. “I deal with a lot of projects where I have to work within a certain parameter and timeframe and that sensibility helped with the room. I spent a full week completely immersed in the project.”
Kinsey is currently spending time in his studio working toward two solo shows at The Outside Institute in London and at Boon Gallery in Salem, Massachusetts. He has several other shows planned for next year, including a solo exhibition at Alice Gallery in Brussels, Belgium.
In the meantime, he’s enjoying life in L.A., working on advertising campaigns for BLK/MRKT and helping run BLK/MRKT Gallery in Los Angeles.