If you’re looking for eerie, eye-catching homewares and decor, look no further than Dellamorte & Co. Founder Michael Locascio started the shop in 2011, drawing inspiration from his childhood interests in anatomy and mythology to form what was originally a side business, and made his first sale within an hour of opening. I spoke to Locascio about his shop and style, touching on topics like his creative process and influences.
For those who have never heard of your business, how would you describe Dellamorte & Co.?
Dellamorte & Co. began as a dark home decor venue, and I design and sculpt everything in my shop. Over time I have diversified both the type of products and the themes. I offer statues, barware, mugs, nightlights, vases, ornaments, and more. The focus of my inspiration is on folklore and mythology, with an emphasis both on the macabre and pagan.
When/how did you first get involved with art and sculpture?
I began sculpting as an apprentice at a bronze monument studio in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC. I was classically trained and continued working there through college while I was at NYU. After graduating I took a position sculpting action figures and collectibles at McFarlane Toys, later going freelance and working for various companies including DC Comics. Several years ago I began a side company of dark art and home décor, Dellamorte & Co.
Much of your work draws from gothic, macabre concepts and mythology. Have you always been interested in these topics?
I take a lot of my inspiration from mythology and legends, as well as other literary sources. After many years of working from strict reference on licensed properties, it is liberating to create pieces according to my own whims. I’ve always been drawn to dark themes and there is definitely an element of the gothic in my work. I do my best to give my own creative take on these characters and themes.
Your shop offers various kinds of products, including statues, magnets, and vases. When you’re designing your pieces, do you know what it will be from the start, or do you come up with a general concept then adapt it for each product type?
That is certainly one of the challenges of being a business owner – creating the range of products. My nature is just to sculpt what piques my interest, but I’ve grown to enjoy the part of a project where I decide what category of product it will become. The main reason is that I hope to have customers appreciate my style and themes, but I realize that they may be shopping for certain types of product. Not everyone wants a statue, or has a spot for it, but I make a lot of functional pieces, and a variety of sizes as well as price points. Basically, if you like what I am making, my goal is to have a type of product you are interested in buying. Some products seem to make good gifts, and others, like my line of ornaments, do well in the holiday season. It has been a learning experience since I began, and part of it is seeing what types of products resound with my customers.
One of my favorite pieces of yours is the “Ghost in the Mirror” wall plaque, which features a ghost figure peering out of a frame. How does your approach to bigger pieces like this differ from your approach to your smaller works?
That piece has been very popular, especially this year! With larger work, especially if it’s organic in nature, I often switch from a hard sculpting wax to a softer clay like Chavant. Each type of material has its strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve learned some valuable techniques over the years.
Do you tend to plan out the details of your pieces beforehand, or do you experiment as you go?
I think a sensible way to work is to begin with concept sketches before tackling a sculpture, but that’s not how I do things. I get a rough idea in my head, and since I am most comfortable with manipulating clay, I almost always forego drawings and work the design out as I go. It’s not a structured process, but for me, it’s the most enjoyable.
When you’re drawing inspiration from mythology, do you stick to established descriptions of the character/object or do you integrate your own ideas?
I really like the idea of offering a fresh interpretation of characters, while still staying true to their meaning. I try to incorporate the attention to detail from my career in the collectibles market with the classical fine art training of my youth.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?
It did present some challenges, but I work from home and the people who work for me do as well, so I think I had an easier transition than most people. And I think because so much was shut down, online sales have been very brisk, so the biggest challenge this year has been keeping up with demand.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start sculpting?
I feel that the fundamentals will always be essential in art, and learning things like proportion, perspective, etc. will make someone a better artist no matter what style or medium they eventually work in. I think digital sculpting makes a lot of sense these days and has some great advantages, but to me, a sculptor should at least be familiar with the tactile sensation of working with their hands.
What are three items from your shop that you think would make great holiday gifts?