Creatures & symbols

rendered in unique engraving-style drawings reminiscent of Medieval text illustrations.

See AlfAlfA’s art


AlfAlfA (a.k.a. Nicolás Sanchez) is a muralist, illustrator and tattoo artist who employs an immediately recognizable cross-contour drawing style in his art. Employing techniques used in vintage etchings and engravings, he considers himself to be a draftsman, using lines of varying thickness to create his murals, drawings and tattoos.

Divine and surreal, AlfAlfA’s finely drawn work features mythical and mythological creatures; animals, birds and insects; and symbols. The creatures often combine animal/bird/insect and human features, the human eyes at times serving as a reminder of the vital need for humanity to pay attention to our relationship with nature, and to adjust our behaviour accordingly. Originally from Venezuela, his murals appear on buildings all over the world, including his home base Toronto, Canada – for example on Dundas West in Little Portugal; and he also produces popular art prints in his distinctive style. AlfAlfA’s work was recently included in Cultural Goods Gallery’s inaugural exhibition.

As a tattoo artist, AlfAlfA brings his unique illustration style to the human canvas. Designs include religious and cultural symbolism, Medieval imagery, mythical and mythological creatures, and anatomical illustrations from flash sheet images (curated displays of the artist’s work for clients to choose from); he also collaborates with clients on custom work. Like his murals and print work, he uses his signature combination of bold, dynamic and subtle lines and cross-contouring to create unique works of art on skin. These are like the images that you’d see in an old book; he even has his own version of the 14th century woodcut portrait of Vlad the Impaler!

A grid of 4 images, featuring text and photographs. Top left: A man leans against a parking sign. Behind him, a mural of a large lady bug, its wings opening to partially reveal a woman's face - her nose, mouth and chin. Top right: A mural of a fantastical creature with the head of a woman wearing a hat, a snake neck with fish fins, the body of a bird and a cougar's tail. Bottom left: A mural portrait of a cyclops man, dressed in late 1700s period dress and wig. Bottom right: Alfalfa is a muralist, illustrator & tattoo artist working on canvas, paper and skin. His work - featuring his instantly recognizable style of cross-contour drawing - can be seen on buildings all around the world.

(Photo credit: AlfAlfA)


What we like about this artist

AlfAlfA’s images are magical and so unique. There’s a playful, yet refined, quality to the work that is both fascinating and striking – Monty Python-esque, yet engaging the heart and mind. Embracing nature and an environmentally-conscious sensibility, the work captures the imagination and inspires mindfulness toward our environment. As book and writing nerds, we especially love how the stunningly distinct style of his work reminds us of the illustrations in old Medieval texts; and his images of hands with quills, poised and ready to write, particularly resonate.

In fact, we like AlfAlfA’s work so much, that Elena commissioned a portrait for her bio on our About page and Cate, who’s known to sport a tattoo or two, has booked a session. (Written by C.M.)


Ideas for where you can go from here:
    • Check out AlfAlfA’s artwork.
    • Check out AlfAlfA’s tattoo work.
    • Does your city contain a mural by AlfAlfA? If so, go see it in person if you can.


We love artists because they inspire you to look at things in a different way. Looking at things in a different way allows you to open your mind to other possibilities. Opening your mind to other possibilities is part of the flourishing offline life Young W helps you discover: by exploring CITIES and the other 8 pillars of arts & letters, including those you may be hesitant to try.


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