Krista Kim

Fine Artist

It might not be natural for artists to gravitate to the company of doctors, scientists or engineers—but that’s exactly what Krista Kim is doing as she strives to craft a new, technologically-innovative process for finding beauty and heart amid our booming digital renaissance.

The Canada native—who now splits her time between her home in Toronto and her studio in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn—is part of the Techism Movement, wherein artists seek to create new media that reflect the disruption age. She’s the force behind art with “an organic and vibrating quality,” which got a major showing in New York City with Guy Hepner and Avant Arte. 

According to her “Techism Manifesto,” the movement aims to reconcile technology as a medium and tool for the next evolution of art, as well as this question: “What is digital human existence, and what is the beauty in it?” 

Krista’s work explores the paradoxes of innovation. Describing herself as a kind of artistic sociologist, she is interested in sociology because she “seeks to transcend the false constructs of reality”. She unpacks the various themes of how our methods of communicating rapidly change from moment to moment.

“As a child of the 80s, you witness the amazing advancements and also the amazing disruptiveness in communication,” she says. “When you see companies like Amazon, PayPal, Uber completely remap the way we live and communicate or even associate with one another—these are things that really fascinate me. As an artist, I want to bring to light, bring to awareness, these changes.”

Likening our current times to the industrial revolution, Krista says what she’d like to convey is a kind of “digital humanism,” participating in what she views as the artist’s role in society: “To keep that sense of the soul and beauty and poetry. If you lose that aspect, you produce a society of drones.”

Influenced by pioneers like Mark Rothko, Marcel Duchamp, James Turrell, Robert Irwin, Toko Shinoda and Cory Arcangel, Krista uses a technique she created to manipulate binary code combined with LED light photography using a few software applications, like Photoshop.
All her life, Krista has felt the creative impulse: “It’s something I cannot help, it’s very natural.” Also since childhood, she’s been keenly aware of technology’s destiny to become more and more intrinsic to daily life. Back in eighth grade, young Krista was given an assignment to depict what the future might look like—and she wound up sketching what now looks like an early prototype of the Apple Watch.

After graduating with a degree in political science, Krista went on to spend 15 transformational years in Asia. It was there, while consuming the culture and absorbing the art scenes in Tokyo and Singapore, that Krista’s sense of form, style and expression began to take shape. 

While in Singapore, she earned her Masters of Fine Arts, and her four years in Japan were spent captivated by and immersed in the traditional Zen style of painting. Krista says that what interested her most about this style was the relaxing and focusing effect it had on her. “I had never experienced such tranquility and freedom, so I continued,” she says.

While living in Tokyo, Krista wasn’t solely inspired by painting, but also “by the lifestyle there,” particularly the way in which art and culture weaved their way through day-to-day life. She was enchanted by the Zen gardens, the origami, the fashion, the architecture. Even the “food is beautifully presented,” she says. “Everything is so meticulous.”
That appreciation of meticulousness has transferred into how she now markets her work online. Despite the propensity for photographers and artists to slap their work up on Instagram the minute it’s done, Krista deliberately waited until January of this year to launch her “online gallery” on Instagram.

Krista didn’t feel she could post shots of her pieces until she’d established a mission and strategy for her work. She says she wanted to make sure her social media presence had a cohesive quality. For her, the worst case scenario would be to come across as frenetic or off topic.

“You don’t want people to think that you’re random,” she says. “You need to be organized and have everything neatly packaged. Make sure that you have some sort of polished concept.”

Luckily, once Krista did have a game plan (and a sizeable body of work, which she advises is also important before any budding artist launches his or her online presence), it only took a couple weeks for her to get noticed. Avant Arte found and contacted her through the social media platform, which led to her recent exhibition.

Krista says her art evolved from more traditional forms of painting into the work she’s doing now because she wanted to let in more light. When she got her first smartphone, Krista says, “I realized I was always constantly communicating through light. I felt a disconnect between painting and the way things were going. Digital was the new thing, so I thought light is the new ink, so I had to find a way to use light.”
For anyone who might be hesitant to try new mediums or techniques because they’re not formally trained, Krista’s advice is to embrace the potential to fail—as failure, for her, is where the greatest takeaways lie. She, after all, began with no programming background, but was handy with a camera, and just began snapping photographs of lights. It took years to develop into what it is now—and she got here, she says, mostly by tinkering with software and training herself to keep up with new technology.

“My whole M.O. was making mistakes, finding beautiful discoveries along the way,” she says. She takes the raw images, modifies the colors and composition through a program like Photoshop and sees what sticks.

Krista recalls that when she was first starting out, a lot of people told her that what she was doing wasn’t art—it was “just Photoshop.” Or that, “Anyone can do this.” It’s unlikely that anyone will question the merit of her work in the years to come.

But, at any rate, to Krista, the artistic process isn’t about the end result. She estimates that out of everything she produces, only about 20 percent gets shown to the public. “The rest, I’m still sitting on or it’s just not ready,” she says. The point, for her, is getting into that zone where the rest of the world fades away. 

To Krista, hitting her groove is “almost like a spiritual practice.” 

Going forward, Krista hopes to incorporate more interactivity in her artwork, even possibly explore virtual reality. She wants to encourage artists to not be afraid of technology, but instead to enter into collaborative dialogues with all the brilliant minds working across each field.

Krista’s own definition of success is to remain in awe of the things around her, to stay humble and open and to work for herself. The best place you can wind up is “where you don’t care what people think and you’re happy. Being comfortable in your own skin, loving yourself.” 

Stories & Surroundings

Photos by Agnes Thor Written by Alexis Hauk