With the current tension at the southern border, it’s imperative to keep Latin influence visible in America. Images can shift peoples’ patterns of thought and make them see beyond statistics and numbers. Art can reveal the souls behind the faces and show that, with freedom, everyone has the potential to create something. DINKC brings his Mexican culture to the forefront of elevated street art through his iconic characters and subtle symbolism.
Born and raised in Kansas City, DINKC was the kid who ran with the older crew. The art that his friends produced left an impression. They would paint lowriders, tag walls, and make Black Books. DINKC wasn’t fully into the art of lettering, but he collaborated with artists by adding his characters to their tags. He was constantly surrounded by artists and was largely inspired by the atmosphere that they cultivated.
DINKC’s first show was during his senior year of high school. He showed at his local First Friday event and witnessed several artists who were involved in the community and thriving. They were creating all kinds of commercial items. He realized that he needed to teach himself how to make his art a business. He applied to the Kansas City Art Institute and was accepted. He dove into the curriculum and was part of the first class to graduate with an Illustration degree after the school re-introduced it as a program.
After graduating, DINKC was determined to start his own brand. His name is an acronym for “Death Is Not Knowing Certainty”. It is largely derived from the essence of el Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). DINKC describes it at a representation of life’s uncertainty and the knowledge of our own mortality. He is a firm believer that tomorrow is never guaranteed. So he pursues his passion relentlessly. Murals, toys, clothing, cars… you name it, he paints it.
“Whatever I can get my hands into, I’ll do it. You just have to ask, because the worst thing that can happen is they say no, and then you move on.” -DINKC
The DINKC brand is readily identifiable by his characters. DINKC was hugely motivated by Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse. He was always amazed at how anyone could look at Mickey and automatically be filled with joy. A simple black-and-white cartoon could convey such strong conviction. Everyone knew who he was and what he stood for. DINKC strived to have that in his own branding. You can find his homage, “DINKCY Mouse” in several of his pieces.
The main figure in DINKC’s narrative is the face of his logo and a recurring character in his work, the DINKC sugar skull. The process of making sugar skulls for Dia de Los Meurtos celebrations calls for a template. The original sculpture is constructed and a mold is made. From that mold, endless skulls can be painted and decorated in different ways. DINKC’s sugar skull is essentially the template.
His exaggerated version of the traditional skull and the added symbolism make this signature character iconic. Each one is a self-portrait in a sense. Sometimes he will even depict them in the clothes that he is wearing while painting, but the paramount stories are in the details. The torn finger in the gloves is a mark of artistry and humility. Gloves are a symbol of hard work and dedication to a craft. DINKC observed artists who would cut a hole in their gloves for better control and grip of their mediums. It’s a technique that is unique to the streets and the artists who made do with what they had.
DINKC includes a mustache on his skulls as a representation of personal principles. In 8th grade, DINKC started growing hair on his face. He attended a Catholic school and they asked the students to go home and remove all of their facial hair. The next day, all of the boys came to class with razor burn and cuts on their face. DINKC’s father refused to make him shave and defied the school’s orders.
“That was meaningful for me; standing up for your rights and not having to conform to certain things, even with something as simple or ridiculous as shaving your mustache.”
All of the elements in DINKC’s characters portray his own personality. His culture, sense of humor, dedication, cordiality, and challenges are all represented through numerous visuals. Protruding eyeballs from exclamation mark eyeholes, cracked teeth, and a stuck out tongue on his sugar skulls are little ways of telling his story and expressing himself.
“They’re all just me.”
DINKC is now based in Denver, CO since 2017. He is focused on making his presence known in his new city and surrounding areas. This year he is taking on several new projects to challenge himself more, while still knocking out commissions. You can always catch him live painting and selling his merch at events on the weekends. He’ll be the guy in the sugar skull Lucha Libre mask.
“You can be a super amazing artist, but if you stay at home all day, no one is going to see what you’re doing.”-DINKC
Art has always been a force that can transcend time and expectation. It weaves itself in and out of our lives and always shows up at the right time. This is especially true for 62-year-old multi-media artist, Deb Weiers. While working menial jobs for the majority of her life, she had always created on her own in many different mediums. It wasn’t until she was in her late forties that Deb chose to attend her local Visual Arts program at Red Deer college. Although her age surpassed her classmates’, she found her true passion in those years.
Even after her education there was a vast period in which she only practiced for herself and close friends and family. After taking an online class on portraiture, she started creating every day. Deb fell in love with the aspects of recreating human features and her brilliant portrait series manifested. By 2016, she began to sell her work and became a full-time artist.
“I find the human face just endlessly interesting.”-DW
Every day Deb wakes up to her tranquil farm in Alberta, Canada surrounded by her horses, dogs, and cats. She grows and preserves her own food during the harvest seasons and creates art from her kitchen table where natural light floods in. Primarily using acrylic, inks, watercolor, and collage she composes her commentaries on the world around her.
The mood of her subjects is often somber or melancholy set in opposition against backdrops of vibrant colors and playful scribbles. The words that she integrates into her pieces are keen observations that are personal, political, and intimate. All of these elements combined reveal her vision of the world. It is one of conviction and vulnerability. Deb portrays the suffering that is inherent to the human experience, but she is still able to purge the emotion and express it through her work to give something beautiful back into the world.
“I like to convey emotions, especially hardship or struggle because I think we all have it in our life and people can connect with it. I’m not one for pretty faces.”-DW
In 2018, she came out with her first book, The Many Faces of Deb. She describes it as a visual journey of her last seven years. She would like to do another book in the future, but for now she is busy selling work to private clients all over the world and enjoying her success as an artiste.
FB Deb Weiers
FROM TOP TO BOTTOM:
World Events Weigh Heavy 15in x 22in
The Cynics 18in x 20in
Can You See Me? 14in x 20in
Just Hangin’ Around 16in x 20in x 2in
Frida Love 8in x 10.5in
People of the Piranhas 12in x 18in
They Were a Motley Crew 15in x 20in
They Were Twins and They Hardly Ever Smiled 11in x 15in
A Heavy Heart 12in x 9.5in
“The Streets Wear the Brand” is the motto behind Clever Fools. Alex Trinkle started the apparel and accessories brand two and half years ago and it’s been decking out creatives and misfits of society ever since.
Graffiti artists, skaters, hoods, and hooligans from Kansas City to Los Angeles sport Clever Fools on the daily. The culture behind the brand comes from Trinkle’s background as a graffiti artist. He wanted to create apparel that is high quality and pure street.
Clever Fools is a completely authentic and hand-made operation. Trinkle and his crew print every shirt, design every graphic, and sew in every tag at his studio in Kansas City, Kansas. Trinkle’s right hand man, Dirty Dan, along with several other friends help to spread the brand’s message. They do their own guerilla marketing in the form of murals, stickers, banners, and flyers across the country.
“You never know if it’s gonna last a day or a month.”-A.T.
Off-the-cuff methods of marketing and design drive Clever Fools into the underground. Pop-ups and flash sales from the trunk of Trinkle’s car happen regularly. It’s a word-of-mouth, independent company that relies on its consumer’s loyalty, and they always deliver.
Every design is propagated by stories, memories, and visions of Trinkle and his delinquent friends.
CLEVER FOOLS IS AVAILABLE AT :
PHOTOG CREDITS FROM TOP TO BOTTOM:
Brad Bozarth @brad.bozarth
Davis Bloom @imbloomy
Jesse Jimenez @aspectvisuals
Jesse Jimenez (photo of Alex Trinkle and Dirty Dan)
Tori Rose @torirosephoto
Kenopsia is defined as the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people, but is now abandoned and quiet. Beau Raines takes his camera to these forgotten areas of the city to capture the emotional after image that makes it seem not just empty, but hyper-empty. Peeling paint, broken windows, worn graffiti, and rusted steel are revived through the lens of Raines’ camera. Being an introvert himself, he finds peace within the carcasses of old warehouses and empty streets.
“I gravitate towards parts of the city that people aren’t moving through. Nobody is going to see me and nobody knows I’m there. I see what other people would never normally see.”
His love of exploring began when he was in middle school, before the age of cell phones and social media. Raines would take his mother’s camera and sneak out to wander aimlessly. He would find the tallest thing he could climb on and scale it to take photos. When he moved away to college in Bristol, Tennessee, he found himself completely on his own for the first time. Raines made a habit of driving up to Main Street, parking his car, and walking out of the city for miles on end, all the while capturing images of deserted factories and warehouses.
As life went on and Raines moved from city to city, the series developed into a sort of meditation. It was a way for him to break away from the monotony of everyday life and the anxiety of social norms. Setting out with no destination and spending hours letting the environment reach out to him allowed Raines to explore his physical surroundings as well as his inner consciousness.
The exhilaration of the unknown, where he can’t rely on expectation, releases him from his own self-doubt. The stillness of uninhabited spaces envelops his senses and allows him to be completely uninhibited.
“The process itself creates a familiar place. It metaphorically exists no matter what space I’m actually in.”
Not everyone has the heart and mind of an explorer. Raines finds ways to get in and out of places that are not meant to be traversed. He finds the most spectacular (and oftentimes the most dangerous) vantage points to take his photos. He’s fallen through floors, snuck through working hotels, pried open sealed doors, and had his fair share of run-ins with the law, but he always manages to find the grace behind the sorrow of abandonment.
“The goal is to find the place that exists outside of the reality of what you’re exploring, giving you an opportunity to tangibly experience your own mental space.”
Currently based in Dallas, Raines continues to run his production company, VoiceOneArts, documenting artists and independents of all trades. He is a visual storyteller for many, but the Kenopsia series is his most personal project. It’s thrilling and cathartic and singularly his.
The historic town of Westport has been an important trading point in Kansas City, Missouri since the early 1800s. Starting as crossing point between the California, Oregon, and Santa Fe Trail, Westport has been a bustling district for decades. The culture remains steady, while the shops and businesses have evolved to keep the town a destination point for all Kansas City natives.
On the block of 39th and Broadway, It’s A Dream Smoke Shop joined the locale. Since their establishment in 2008, It’s A Dream has become a pillar of the community. Offering the latest and greatest in smoking accessories and fine art glass is only a portion of what this smoke shop does for their city.
Josh Funk, General Manager of the resident flagship store, invited COUNTERPRODUCTIV in to discuss the past, present and future of It’s A Dream.
So you guys have been here since 2008. How did it all get started?
The owner’s name is Malik. He came to America on the citizenship lottery in the 90s. He had a few other businesses until his friend told him this place was up for sale. It used to be a convenience store. They sold shirts and shoes. He turned it into a smoke shop. He’s a religious, compassionate person and he has an MBA so he’s a really good businessman who knew this would be lucrative. With me as his manager and us working together, we’ve been able to create this successful business. It has so much opportunity, especially after the recent legalization of cannabis.
When did you start working at It’s A Dream?
Four years ago, I became manager and a year after that they changed the legal age from 18 to 21. So when that happened it was really a big shift. We had to completely change our business model. We didn’t have the teenagers coming in who just wanted the big, expensive stuff. Older people are a lot more concerned. They research things online and you can find everything cheaper. So we had to create what I like to call the “genius bar” mentality. Yeah, you could probably buy this for $5-$20 cheaper online, but you come here because you get to talk to us. We’ve used all this stuff and we have the experience. We can tell you, this one’s cheaper, this one’s not, but you should get this one and if you have issues you can bring it in and we can help you. We educate people and don’t just sell stuff to people.
The shop has always sold smoking accessories and now you sell CBD products. Will you be opening cannabis dispensaries?
We’re opening 3 new medical facilities. One in an old bank in Independence, one in Gladstone, and one at 103rd and State Line. We won’t be able to get the license until December and probably won’t be able to open until April or may next year.
Will the dispensaries be called “It’s A Dream”, or will you operate under a separate name?
We’re going with Dream Leaf. It’s a tie back to It’s a Dream, but because it medical, we wanted to be professional. If someone sees “leaf”, they will know we have cannabis.
How are you preparing for the opening of Dream Leaf?
We’ve been training on cannabis and how it interacts with your nervous system, the different cannabanoids and terpenes, etc. I think that will stand out in our dispensaries. We won’t just tell you “this bud is really dank.” We’re going to be working with a local guy who is certified in education and also has a huge background in the cannabis industry. He’s going to be training us on state regulations, neuropathy, and all that kind of stuff.
There are tons of one-of-a-kind pieces in here. How much of your shop is local product?
Two or three years ago, we started working with local artists. At least 50% percent of our product is local or directly from the artist, which is awesome. That’s another big point of our business model, is helping the community. We have local artists do murals and sell canvases and prints. Kryptc will be doing our mural this year on the front of the building. We like to keep the whole local art vibe going. People who live here get the money, and people who live here spend the money in our shop. It creates the vibe that you want to be here: ‘I want to go to It’s A Dream. I want to see the cool robot and the murals. I want to get some CBD slush and hear some music and talk with the guys.’
Do you ever host events?
Yeah! We started doing events where local artists would come in and set up for Halloween, Christmas, and 4th of July. The 4/20 CannaBrew Flame-Off and Art Show was definitely the biggest event. We try to get a lot of different people in here and support as many artists as possible. Every time we do an event, we’ll do some kind of community drive. We usually pair up with Harvester’s and do food drives. We’ll do raffles here and we’ve gotten hundreds of cans of food to donate to charity. The money that we raised from the silent auction at 4/20 CannaBrew , we donated to the Veteran’s Cannabis Project.
We’ve worked a lot with New Approach Missouri. They were some of the main people responsible for the Amendment 2 passing. So for a couple years they had petitions going. We always hosted them in here. We collected thousands of signatures over the years. NRML KC, we’ve donated a lot of stuff for events that they’ve done. We just try to be an active part of pushing the cannabis legislation.
“We’re doing something to change the connotation that is with the cannabis industry and with stoners being lazy and non-productive. We are active community members and we’re the people who are affecting change.”
With the country’s change in cannabis laws and Missouri passing Amendment 2, It’s A Dream will be the one of the first in the state to dispense cannabis medically and legally. Not only will they be able to help and heal the people of Kansas City, but they will also provide a genuinely remarkable experience. Stop into It’s A Dream to spin the Winnie Wheel, get a CBD slush, browse the highest quality specialty glass in the area, buy local art, listen to good music, get to know their knowledgeable and friendly staff, and join the Dream Cool Club.
facebook It’s A Dream Smoke Shop
Robot Sculpture by Daniel Schaeffer