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Rick “Dienzo” Blanco is a Los Angeles area artist whose collection of dark little characters are meant to intrigue, entice and perhaps cause a bit of anxiety. While his experience in commercial art as an award-winning designer spans over 15 years, his love of fine art has existed since he was old enough to hold a pencil. His most recent style is greatly influenced by his work for Disney, Mattel and most recently, Cartoon Network. In this role, he serves as creative director of product development and collaborates with internal partners and licensees to oversee the development of toys, video games, sporting goods and more based on the network’s original properties.

In creating his art, Dienzo sees the technical aspect as, “taking the world of cartoon like characters and rendering them in the traditional medium of acrylic on canvas. From a content perspective, it’s drawing from the influence of pop-culture elements and experiences as a kid like watching The Munsters and The Addams Family or visiting the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.

“I’ve always been inspired by the darker side of life,” says Dienzo. Here it’s the juxtaposition of “cute and cuddly” with something slightly subversive or sinister that makes these characters and vignettes accessible. “The timing is also right as more and more artists are bridging the gap between fine art and merchandise. They now understand the value of approaching their art as a brand and managing new opportunities from that point of view.” Dienzo has begun developing licensed product based on his art. “The real beauty of this genre is that the imagery can live on the shelves of specialty retailers like Hot Topic or Urban Outfitters as readily as on the walls of a gallery.” Dienzo received his bachelor’s degree in graphic design and an executive MBA from Loyola Marymount University. Having established a body of work and a client base with Cuban themed neo-expressionism under the name of “Rick Blanco,” the pseudonym “Dienzo” was chosen to differentiate his new paintings from the existing style. It is a hybrid of his sons’ names (Diego & Lorenzo) and is meant to preserve the wide-eyed naiveté of childhood while creating a legacy for his own sons. He resides with his wife and boys near Pasadena, California.

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