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Local artist paints with recycled coffee grounds

How one Vancouver-based artist turned his love of coffee into a collection of paintings that use recycled coffee grounds as the main medium.

West Vancouver's GK Hinkson says he takes pride in being creative in his business life, and in his art.
"I'm not afraid to try new things," Hinkson says via telephone with Vancouver Is Awesome--all the way from Palm Springs, where the life insurance industry pro's second career as an artist has taken him, and his latest works, "The Espresso Collection," for a showing in Art Palm Springs.

 Hinkson with his piece Hinkson with his piece “Robusta” (Photo courtesy GK Hinkson)

In this case, that new thing is painting with recycled coffee grounds. Hinkson explains that he was inspired to marry his love of painting with his love for a well-brewed Italian roast when he was enjoying several thoughtfully made Cafe au Laits on his travels in Italy with his wife.
Hinkson confesses he is a fan of Italian everything: "design, fashion, food, the landscape, coffee, history, antiques," he elaborates.
"Why wouldn't I try to use coffee grounds in my pieces?" says Hinkson of his thought process.
Back home in West Vancouver, Hinkson asked the baristas at his go-to coffee spot for their used Italian Dark Roast grounds. Hinkson says he didn't stop to research techniques or precedent, he simply went into his studio and created.
For his "Espresso Collection," Hinkson relied on glaze to adhere the coffee grounds "paint" to his canvasses. His abstract pieces in this grouping are strikingly different, ranging from the verdant hues of "Green Envy" that represent a just-picked coffee bean to the two-dimensional "bust" of Roman Emperor Agustus in "Agustus."

 “Augustus” (Photo courtesy GK Hinkson)

Though his mediums employed in the series include the glaze, as well as anything from ink to acrylics and water--Hinkson says he sometimes simply hoses down canvases outside his studio to diffuse an image--many of the canvases still retain the aroma of coffee.
Retaining the scent was deliberate. Hinkson wants viewers to experience the aromas. "Get your nose close to it," he wants to urge those who are drinking in pieces like his "Robusta" with their eyes and their olfactory system.
One side effect may be to make a bee-line to your nearest cafe after seeing--and smelling--Hinkson's work. "I had a huge need to drink coffee while I was doing [the collection]," the artist jokes.
Where does Hinkson like to drink his favourite espresso drinks (lattes or wet cappuccinos) in Vancouver? He admits he does enjoy Starbucks, but his two favourites are Cafe Crema in West Van and Revolver in Vancouver's Gastown.
Among his other (non-caffeinated) influences, Hinkson cites the life and work of Jackson Pollock, who embodies a enmeshing of physical strength and a bold, broad scope of work--as well as large canvases, which Hinkson, too, likes using.

 “Espresso Naturally” (Photo courtesy GK Hinkson)

Hinkson is continually inspired by nature--he's often outside, participating in sport--and he is also a true entrepreneur. His primary business is "financial boutique," and while he takes pride in being creative at every turn in the industry, he doesn't miss a beat when it comes to pinpointing a way to turn his art into enterprise. That's how his line of men's luxury dress socks, featuring his art, came to be. It launches in April. (Amusingly, Hinkson's work in life insurance has also crossed over into beans, albeit of a different kind; he titled a 2013 book on the industry "Spilling the Beans.")
As Hinkson is prepping for his Palm Springs showing, he's also already thinking ahead to his next collection, which he says is inspired by global street art, as well as where the "Espresso Collection" will show next. Stops in North America and Europe and Asia are planned for this year, but Vancouverites may not see these coffee-scented works until the fall at the Interior Design Show.
Of course, ever the businessman, Hinkson did say that if someone was really interested in buying a piece, they could reach out to him to arrange to meet up. Maybe even over a cup of coffee.