/Get Inspired/End Note

Inside the Noggin’ of Artist Ricky Sosa

A Mexico-born designer employs an ancient decorative technique to create timeless art

By Terence Dick

Growing up in Monterrey, Mexico, near the U.S. border, Ricky Sosa was more fascinated by rock ’n’ roll and American fashion than Mexican traditions. He listened to Black Sabbath and Guns N’ Roses, and designed T-shirts to sell at the local flea market. It wasn’t until he moved to Vancouver in 2003 that he recognized the vibrant culture he had left behind.

On return visits to the Sierra Madre Mountains, he would join peyote ceremonies and learn the decorative beadwork of the Wixáritari people (also known as the Huichol). Sosa now uses this precise patterning technique to create grim but alluring decorative skulls, which he began exhibiting five years ago to immediate acclaim. Last September, he made the move to Toronto, setting up his Revolucionario Design Co. in a Mirvish Village studio.

His human skulls, sourced through a medical supply store, are fabricated out of resin; his decorated animal skulls are the real deal. After coating one in beeswax and cranking up the music while it dries, he starts from the crown of the head and just goes for it.

“There’s no planned pattern. If I imagine an eagle or flowers, I start working from there,” Ricky Sosa explains. He uses a dressmaker’s pin to add beads one by one. Once they are in place, he rolls a tequila shot glass over the skull to impress them and to get an even surface. Depending on a pattern’s complexity, a skull can take between 35 and 45 hours to complete.

The finished product is a universal symbol of mortality that resonates across cultures. It also serves as a reminder to live life to the fullest while you can. Death, after all, is the great equalizer. “What I love about skulls is a quality of life thing,” Sosa says. “Everyone is going to go sometime, and it’s not going to matter how much money you have. When we go, we will all be the same.”

Originally published in our Fall 2015 issue.

Categories: End Note
Latest Tweets Follow Us
  • Designlines Magazine1 day ago
    A number of Danish architecture firms are adding brilliant projects to Toronto's skyline https://t.co/y4lnMynVh1
  • Designlines Magazine2 days ago
    A great summer camp for budding designers - and future city builders - at @UofTDaniels 🌞 https://t.co/e24Lk1JFIo
  • Designlines Magazine2 days ago
    RT @sanuradesign: Totally in love with this innovative use of a defunct pool in #summerhill by @JoelLoblaw via @DesignlinesMag #designinspi…
  • Designlines Magazine2 days ago
    RT @Iris9: Still love this project by Oben Flats much mucho RT Why We’re Crushing on Harbord's Orange Townhouses https://t.co/3dNEfB9uMc (v…
  • Designlines Magazine5 days ago
    LAST CHANCE for our Flash Sale! Get 30% off Sitewide! Use the promo code FLASH at checkout: https://t.co/aQIYyuxhTV https://t.co/j7KCLWXxFX