Spotlight #24: Yosiell Lorenzo on his magical artwork

If you’re a frequent Bleaq visitor you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I love fairytales, folklore and magical realms. I love to submerge myself into these fantastic realms every now and then, whether it’s through books, films or art. I recently discovered the work of Oakland based artist Yosiell Lorenzo, and his adorable resin figures called Sicklings immediately stole my heart. I was curious to find out more about the Sicklings and their maker, and asked Yosiell to shed some light on his inspiration, life and work. Enjoy!


Bleaq: Hi! Could you introduce yourself and your work shortly?
Sure thing, I am Yosiell Lorenzo and I’m a New England transplant living in Oakland, CA where I illustrate ghostly orphan kids and sculpt my Sicklings.

If you had to tell somebody about your work and are only allowed to show one piece or series what would you show and why?
If I had to narrow it down to just one illustration, it would be “Children of the Night”. This illustration truly represents my early influences. Although my family moved often, for a part of my childhood I grew up across the street from a cemetery. I would go for walks and explore the cemetery as much as I could. I always felt a connection with the solitude there and the peaceful feeling I got from my walks. I think “Children of the Night” sums up much of who I am.


Could you introduce us to the magical folk that calls itself ‘The Sicklings’?
These little creatures are tea makers that live underneath the roots of trees in a place called “Somber Hollow” within the elusive “Black Twig Forest”. Their world consists of magic, mystery and brewing tea from morning dew. I’ve been creating them since 2011 and have been building their world ever since…the movies Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal were huge inspirations during my early formative years.


You don’t shy away from using different techniques: you draw, paint and create sculptures. Is there a technique you prefer? And do you think of the story first, or choose a medium first?
Out of the three my preferences are drawing and sculpting. Although I hand paint all of my Sicklings, I don’t paint on canvas as much now. I like bouncing back and forth between sculpting and illustrating, to keeps things interesting. In my process, the story always comes first, which is usually inspired by a line in a song or a movie, or a mental image that may randomly pop into my head. Depending on which story I want to tell, I figure out whether it belongs in the illustrated supernatural world or in the world of my Sicklings and then I go from there.


Many of your pieces and stories are inspired by mysterious and/or dark parts of our history: for instance the Victorian era and the witches of Salem. Have you always been fascinated by the dark? And what is it that attracts you most?
DEFINITELY! I grew up in a household where my mom believed in the supernatural. She would take me to Santeria “parties” as a child. I was fascinated by the Santero who would perform many chants and rituals. Frequent trips to Salem. Massachusetts, at a young age also exposed me to the witch trials, which peaked my interest to learn more about the history. I think the mystery behind it all is why I’m drawn to it, what’s real versus what’s not…and the possibility that there is something more out there.

If you could choose one artist for a collaboration (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Weekly in our household, we would watch PBS Mystery. He show always started out with a small clip as the credits rolled. This 30 second intro was done by Edward Gorey. Just that short intro for PBS mystery made an impression on me more than I thought it would have.


What’s the best museum or gallery exhibition you ever been to, and why did you pick this one?
It’s different from what I do, but I think the most impressive exhibition I saw was Takashi Murakami’s exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum back in 2008. He is an internationally known contemporary Japanese artist. Everything was massive and having a graphic design background I love how he used his art on many different kinds of mediums not just traditional ones.


With social communities like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest around it’s almost impossible to not have an internet presence. How important is the Internet for you as an artist?
REALLY important, I think without it my art would not be collected worldwide. It’s definitely helped me reach a wider audience and through it I’ve got to meet a lot of great artists. In fact, it’s through the internet that I met Naisa Gomez and Ally Burke, after which we started the Dark Arts Collective, Midnight Arts Society

Last but not least: can you recommend a book, movie or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?
Everyone should check out Virginia Mori’s work, she is an Italian illustrator and animator. I’ve really been into her work lately.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading! A warm thanks goes out to Yosiell for answering all my questions, I loved being introduced to your Sicklings! If you like Yosiell’s work make sure to check out his website, the Sicklings website and his webshop. Have a nice weekend!


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