What's Keinom?

- or the attempt to write a biography

Keinom is the alter-ego or pseudonym of myself - Nicholas Ganz. I was born in the early months of 1976 in the heart of the Ruhrgebiet in Essen, Germany. Since the mid ‘90s I am painting graffiti in the streets and simultaneously started to take photos of my own works and the graffiti of other people. This laid the roots of my present artistic work.

In 1997 I wanted to create a special graffiti name for myself, that had no direct meaning instead of  choosing a word from the dictionary. So I took some of my most preferred letters and created a name, that had no concrete meaning - Keinom. Keinom describes my artistic work and the world from where I take my inspiration, where I take refuge in and where I create my philosophy.


My graffiti photo-archive from the early years was the basis to start my first book Graffiti World - street art from five continents and to collect graffiti art from all over the world to present them in this work. It was first published in 2004 and got the chance to be released and also translated in 12 different countries so far.
Graffiti Woman was a natural follower of Graffiti World, as I discovered the lack of female artists in publications and so I filled this gap with this project. The book was first published in 2006.

Since 2005 I am mostly working with my photo-cameras as a journalist or author and rarely paint in the streets or on canvas myself. My focus has been on documenting the social situations of ordinary people, their struggles and resistance movements. I have found my destinations quite often in Asia, where I first was very fascinated by the beautiful, but deeply troubled Burma (today’s Myanmar) and it’s lovely people. From the travels into this country the book Burma - the alternative guide was published in April 2009.


Beside writing these books, I have continuously published articles or photo-essays or contributed to other’s projects, that were released in different mediums.

Because of my work as an author, who documents the life of people in trouble, I have to recollect their bad memories of war or flight. I see the need to return something to these people, who I interview for my books or articles. So I founded the Keinom Foundation in 2008 to collect donations for concrete projects or for needy people as a direct support. I also bought fair-trade products from Burma and Nepal to support other projects as a help for self-help.

Currently I am still stuck in Asia to dive deeper into the diverse cultures, ethnic peoples and various problems and crisis. Meanwhile I ended up in the mountainous country of Nepal.

In 2009 I have written my first text-book in German language with the title Unterwegs in Burma - Eine Reise zum Volk der Shan (engl. Travelling through Burma - A journey to the Shan people), that will be released during summer 2012. It is about the ethnic Shan people in Burma, who are related with the Tais of Thailand. The book is a historic documentation of their troubled history up to this day, which I combined in an adventurous travel report.


On 29. April 2015 I released my third book about a very rare and so far undocumented part of the graffiti culture. With Street Messages I show artists from all around the world, who exclusively or partly work with text only.

A new book project is also in progress and my research is finished now, but the actual work is taking some time, maybe more than one year. More news about this present book project will be released here soon, so far I can only say that the book will be about the exiled Tibetans in Nepal, but what it exactly is about, you must see later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Essen, 14. April 2015

Nicholas Ganz photographing at the Tibetan refugee-settlement of Tashi Palkhiel in Nepal 2012.

Nicholas Ganz photographing at the Tibetan refugee-settlement of Tashi Palkhiel in Nepal 2012.

(Photograph by Tenzin Lhamo.)