Art is a way for incarcerated people to sooth the mind and soul in a positive way. It provides a healthy escape from the depression that often accompanies life in prison. In the SQNews art back page edition, we intend to showcase the hidden talents of many incarcerated people, so that they can be appreciated and enjoyed by others across the prison system.
“I like creating fantasy characters that do not exist in the real world,” said Erick Maciel, “I usually will be watching TV in my cell or looking at a magazine and I get this feeling I have to draw it or make a sketch.”
Maciel is inspired by many other artists and television shows. He also skims through tattoo magazines, and is motivated by the talented artists he finds there.
He uses magazines and his television to learn new techniques as his imagination runs wild. Art allows him to create an imagined place where he can grow; a magical and underground world of his own domain.
He considers art a form of self-fulfillment and a coping tool. The subject matter and the colors he chooses to work with bring him happiness, and art allows him to do something positive and temporarily escape the realities of prison.
One piece that stands out the most for the artist is titled “Zombie Girl.” Hot pink elements contrast against the zombie’s gray skin color, which makes the piece stand out.
“I wanted for Zombie Girl to stand out because she is a magical creature,” said Maciel.
He described seeing a lipstick tattoo in a tattoo magazine, and says he liked the way the artist put a white outline around the lipstick to make it stand out against the background. So he decided to try this technique in his own project.
The way that Maciel mixes colors sets his art apart from the work of other incarcerated artists.
The artist came down to the SQNews room to display a small gallery of his paintings. He also brought a piece titled “Frosty the Donut,” in colored pencil. The donut has two eyes, eyelashes, and a bluish tongue sticking out. He refers to it as “happy donut.”
“I made this donut because I like drawing cartoons and I wanted to create a cartoon character out of a donut,” said Maciel.
He used a green background to give the piece a zany feeling, showcasing its personality. “In the front when I was doing the squiggles [it was] therapeutic, and [also added] texture” he said.
The watercolor witch is a figure of a young woman surrounded by magical shapes against the moon. He used a green filigree pattern to show the energy and dynamics of her strength.
In this particular drawing, he used the soft quality of watercolor to illustrate how the witch’s energy is fading away as the magic is being used.
He also brought a painting of a majestic-looking deer named Brando, a magical that is meant to bring inspiration.
“I put the word Muse on his face, a Nod to people with face tattoos, because I think they are cool,” said Maciel “Also to throw something random at the deer’s body to create disorder.”
He is enthusiastic about creating future art projects, and plans to pitch artwork to Wall City Magazine, a project that is published by SQNews.
“I hope that whoever looks at my artwork, it will bring them a sense of joy, magic, and wonder,” Maciel said.