they seem cool

The Artist Who Paints People of Color

Meet Kohshin Finley.

Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis
Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis

In order to paint a portrait, Kohshin Finley starts with a poem. The artist creates gray scale, photo-realistic portraits of people of color, but he begins by writing a poem that weaves his personal history with the subject’s. The portraits have names like “A Poem for Joy and Resilience” and “American Man in a Hoodie” and each subject’s face has been dabbed with white paint. “I tell stories through art that illuminate my friends in a way that they deserve to be seen by the world,” Finley explains. Below, he talks to the Cut about Amsterdam, telekinesis, and Patty Mayonnaise.

What’s your most-used emoji?
Fire with sparkles on each side.

Favorite holiday?

If you could spend three months anywhere, where would it be and why?
Amsterdam. The food is amazing, it has the nicest people, and amazing art history. The Rijksmuseum is one of my favorite places to spend a day.

What superpower would you have and why?

What’s the best album ever made?
Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor.

Go-to karaoke song?
“U Don’t Have to Call” by Usher.

Who do you think is cool?
My parents.

What fictional character would you love to hang out with?
Patti Mayonnaise.

If you could be a magazine, what magazine would you be?
The Fader.

If you could speak to animals, which animals would you want to talk to?

Jeans or sweats?

What’s something your social-media followers don’t know about you?
Growing up I spent nearly every summer in Mexico with my grandparents.

What was the last website you looked at?

If you could be outfitted by one designer for the rest of your life, who would it be?
Junya Watanabe.

What do you eat for breakfast?
This morning I had yogurt with walnuts, chia seeds, and blueberries.

If you could only eat three things for the rest of your life, what would they be?
The Sfincione Focaccia from Felix, blackberries from my dad’s garden, and any pasta from Jon and Vinny’s.

If you were a color, what would it be?
Cadmium Orange.

Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis

Kohshin wears a Valentino suit and an Acne sweater.

The Artist Who Paints People of Color