Saïd Kinos (1988, Rotterdam) is an artist fascinated by human communication. He is inspired by language, iconography and social media. His work is characterized by an intricate combination of words and colors, symbolizing the many impressions that we get to process every single day.
When Arttenders launched the We Serve Art Box Vol.1: the Christmas Edition in December 2019, Saïd Kinos exclusively designed the box and an enamel pin. The other artworks in this art box are a print of a photo by Pim Top and a scarf by Corriette Schoenaerts. We talked to Kinos about his creative process, dinosaurs and his ambitions.
Was it your childhood dream to become a visual artist?
Not really. As a kid, I dreamed of becoming an archaeologist, because I was intrigued by dinosaurs. Later, I changed my mind to cartoonist, which already looked more like it. Before I enrolled in art school, I thought of becoming a journalist and even began to study journalism in Utrecht, but it was not for me.
As a little boy, I was drawing all the time. Throughout the years, I became more and more passionate about it. In the end, it was the most logical decision that I went to the Willem de Kooning Academy. I quickly found out that was where I belonged. Nonetheless, I have always been interested in languages and communication. I master three languages myself. Journalism wasn’t that weird a choice after all. Graffiti, also, is about words and letters in its typical tags. That’s where my fields of interest came together: the starting point of developing my own signature style.
Graffiti, also, is about words and letters in its typical tags. That’s where my fields of interest came together: the starting point of developing my own signature style.
What does your creative process look like?
I never immediately start sketching. I think about the basic concept and ideas start popping into my head. I keep them there for a while, let them marinate, so to say, until the time is right to transfer them to paper. Mostly, the inspiration comes from a word or a sentence that I link with the commission or fundamental idea. I start sketching to obtain a good composition that gets refined along the way, just until I’m happy with the result. I’m a quite disciplined type of artist, I think, but times are quite hectic lately, which translates into a much more chaotic workflow.
Saïd Kinos at work at the Kunsthal, Rotterdam, 2019.
Most people know you from your murals, like the one you did for Pow! Wow! Rotterdam (2019). For We Serve Art you designed a pin. That is quite a difference in both shape and size. How did you handle that?
To be honest, there is not much difference to me when it comes to the design process. My style can actually quite easily be adapted to different sizes. My sketches are always rather small. For murals, I simply blow them up to large proportions.
However, this pin is by far the smallest object I have ever made, so of course, there were some constraints to take into account. I had been thinking about designing a pin before. The design must be kept simple and each color field has a line around it. I was thinking of designing a set of two pins, but as the commission from We Serve Art came in, two pins became one: a pin that can be worn in two ways.
How does this design relate to earlier work?
It’s an idea that fits my signature style, playing with language and contrasts, not only in colors but also in meaning: black and white, good and evil. Even though the pin comes in the Christmas Edition of the We Serve Art Box, I wanted it to be an item that one can wear all year round. Love and hate are universal feelings everyone can relate to. These themes are all around us.
Furthermore, I already had experience in designing objects. I did a collaboration with Mr. Serious, wherein I designed fabrics for backpacks. I even designed my own chocolate bar once, for De Bonte Koe Chocolate. Not only did I shape the wrap, I also created the chocolate bar itself: a marble-like combination of dark and white chocolate. If I could choose any object to design, it would be a Nike sneaker. That would be a really nice collaboration!
That’s the nice thing about this collaboration with We Serve Art: it’s a commission where I got all the freedom to try out new things.
Mural at Pow! Wow! Rotterdam, 2019.
Exhibition ‘RADIANT TOUCH’, at ART23 Contemporary Art Gallery, Guangzhou.
You also designed the box that contains your pin and two other artworks, by Corriette Schoenaerts and Pim Top. What was your inspiration there?
In this case, I let the Christmas theme and holidays inspire me, but not too obvious. In my design, I incorporated the phrase ‘Seasons greetings’. Again I focused on language and human interaction: people wishing each other the best during the holidays. It’s also a greeting towards the people receiving the art box. I decided to work with watercolor instead of acryl. The effect is that the image has more depth. It was kind of an experiment and I’m really happy with the result.
That’s the nice thing about this collaboration with We Serve Art: it’s a commission where I got all the freedom to try out new things. Lately, I’ve been doing more autonomous work, but I’d love to work for clients more often.
Solo exhibitioin 'MOMENTUM', 2017.
Saïd Kinos for Mr. Serious, 2016.
Saïd Kinos for De Bonte Koe Chocolate, 2017.
What was the first artwork you owned yourself? And what item would you like to add to your own art collection?
No idea, that must have been a silkscreen print that I interchange with one of my fellow artists. To own an original artwork by Boris Tellegen or Felipe Pantone would be nice. They both are artists I admire.
A print by Felipe Pantone could have been one of the first artworks I ever bought, now that I think about it. And as a matter of fact, while giving this interview I’m on my way to Valencia to spend a few days by Felipe’s side to see how he works, to get inspired for some interactive installations I’d like to make. I want to step up my game as far as VR, AR and 3D video mapping are concerned, techniques that are Felipe Pantone’s cup of tea. I’m really looking forward to it!
What is your biggest dream as an artist? Who would you like to work with or what goal would you like to achieve?
I already mentioned that a collaboration with a brand like Nike would be cool. At this point, on the other hand, I’m working on three-dimensional gallery objects. A major retrospective exhibition in a renowned museum like the MoMA would be insane. I think that is something every artist dreams of.
Actually, I’m pretty happy with where I am now. I have the opportunity to fly over the world and do what I love. I'm very grateful for that.