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