Francesco La Rosa is an Italian contemporary artist based in Sicily. He uses the technique of micro-carving on large leather using scalpels and knives. Francesco describes his process when he creates a new piece, and how he carves on leather, millimeter per millimeter, reproducing photorealistic and impactful artwork using only lights and shadows. Francesco tells us how he started working on leather and is inviting you to explore his native region, Sicily.
Francesco La Rosa: The elegance and its timeless beauty. The luxury that expresses, and this desire to give a second life to the leather, almost sacred, and timeless. It started on a commissioned job where I had to make an incision on a leather album and I didn’t have the right tools to do it. Then, I had to be creative and use the tools I had, which were scalpels and knives. From there, I thought, why not create leather pictures. I started to practice, experiment, and work on my craft day after day. The very first piece I made was a portrait of my grandfather, who was a role model for me and it was a very special moment for me to make this surprise for him.
I can’t say I have a mantra in particular, but basically, I always try to see the glass half full, rather than half empty. Negative thoughts are what make you unhappy, so in my life, I try to turn them into something positive. A quote that represents me is one from Leonardo da Vinci: “Wisdom is the daughter of experience.” I use this quote as an example because I am convinced that without experience and telling your own story, you will never be able to achieve perfection.
For the past 8 years, I have been learning and improving my skills. Every day, I spend hours creating and trying new things and have learned a lot about this technique and its variations. It is also important to always be creative and never stop improving. For example, one of my recent innovations is to add gold leaves in my art. I really believe gold has a sacred and symbolic meaning.
Using leather, such a difficult and specific material, I cannot draw any sketch or guidelines. Before starting on a new piece, I meticulously study the details of the subject I have to create, which avoids me to make mistakes and reduce the risk close to zero. After that, I make sure my tools are clean and I trust my instinct and my eye-hand coordination.
For medium-sized pieces, it usually takes 3 to 4 days and about three weeks for bigger sizes, working 8-10 hours a day and pushing my limits every time. I still remember this first piece I did for my grandfather, and I understood the power and impact it had on people.
We are experiencing a very delicate period at the moment, and I am very influenced by all this. I just finished one artwork that illustrates my perception of the current situation. To me, an artist is a witness of our reality, and it is a great responsibility, that makes me feel useful to our society.
The work I am the proudest is when I recreated The Last Supper of Leonardo Da Vinci in its original dimensions. A majestic work full of difficulties and full of meaning that includes 18 panels of leather and put together form a single work. I am proud of it because nothing like this has been done before, and I hope the whole world will admire it someday.
I do keep a very specific schedule. It is important for me to work in a calm environment because my work requires a lot of concentration. In the morning, I usually like to relax my mind and train, because I believe that our body is the temple of our soul. The afternoons are mostly dedicated to errands and inspiration. When I create, I like to sit and close my eyes, which helps me to visualize the finished work, then I start working on the piece while listening to some good music.
The dream is to be able to show my art around the world and to help as many people as I can. Another goal of mine is to exhibit in many galleries, hotels, and museums. This kind of art directly made on leather fascinates me because it fits many different sectors. I would totally see one of my pieces in a house with luxury elements and fabrics, such as the leather I am using, design interiors of luxury cars, or even in the Fashion industry.
For me, it is important to be happy, to build a family, and make a living doing what I love. This is the most beautiful thing in the world. Success without love is nil.
One of the bad habits I would like to eliminate is my lack of patience. However, I think that will disappear over time. Another habit is to be a little messy, but they say creativity increases if you are, so I don’t think I will get rid of this one! [laughs]
Nowadays, everything goes faster with social media. Everything seems easier and more accessible. I have to admit that Instagram helps me a lot in my work, to show my art or to be discovered by people who also love art. That is something I would like to work more because I always say we can go anywhere with one click now.
Yes, actually there is already a Youtube channel, where you can see some of my work and process while I scratch the skin. Besides, I am working on some videos to show behind the scenes during the work done for the Last Supper art. This will show all the steps and challenges during the work and hopefully will reach a lot of people.
Right now, I don’t have a specific artist in mind as I am trying to focus on myself. However, there are many luxury brands I would like to collaborate with. For instance, I would like to work with Christopher R. King, besides being a real gentleman, he seems to be a genuine and passionate person. Working in serenity and harmony are the keys to achieve perfection.
That is an excellent question! I would say, being Sicilian, my heart tells you to come here in Sicilia obviously, to admire some wonders of Nature like Etna, so majestic and full of rivers and forests, perfect for hiking and picnic! Then, I would probably recommend our fabulous beaches: San Vito Lo Capo, the fantastic Taormina, and the Aeolian islands…I can go on and on.
It is difficult to describe Italy in a few words because there are so many cultural assets that will make your head spin. I would personally recommend Venice, the Art capital Florence or Lake Como. The magic is everywhere, especially in the food because I believe that in addition to pizza, we have an infinite number of dishes to drive anyone crazy and I am proud of it! I say thank you to my country and its culture, and the inspiration it gives me in my daily life. This is the reason where I am today.
Some advice I received that I keep in my heart and that made me stronger. My grandfather was an icon for me and he used to tell me that you need the self-confidence to achieve your dreams. Another priceless advice I received from an old friend is that you should never compare yourself to others, but instead look within yourself to never give up. Those are two tips that I keep close to me.
At this moment, with what the world is going through, I feel the responsibility to share my testimonial through my art. I am also working on inventing new techniques and depicting images of great impact such as Michelangelo’s work. My top priority is to find a partner to help me exhibit my “Last Supper” artwork.
Don’t forget why you do it and never give up. Beautiful things take time and last over time. After so much sacrifice, it is also important to remember where you come from, and above all, put love in what you are doing. Those are important to get you to your destination.
I am not sure what to answer to this. We live in a world full of so many talents and geniuses who deserve to be in the spotlight. You have so many options.
Follow Francesco on Instagram here [/mepr-show]
Francesco’s art is mind-blowing, thank you so much for sharing his story.