At the impressively young age of 22, Tampa-based Yosnier Miranda is already a prolific digital illustrator with a practice and worldview that is distinctly that of a Gen Z artist, especially in how he has shied away from the analog. “I don’t think I’ve ever done physical art,” he tells me. “Mostly everything I create and do is digital.” His pieces are ethereal and immersive, composed with a unique style all his own that’s rich with symbols of freedom, hope, growth, and pain.
“I started doing art in high school my senior year when I randomly signed myself up for an AP studio art class,” he says. Just a handful of years later, Yosnier rose to prominence online, primarily through Twitter, where he has now amassed over 30,000 followers and has caught the eye of stars like Normani, whose record label sought him out for a commission for her song with Cardi B., “Wild Side.”
Yosnier’s work typically uses an airy pastel, cotton candy gradient color palette with thick black lines outlining figures and other illustrated elements. Each piece has a similar composition that’s akin to stained glass windows and gets framed in a way that’s reminiscent of tarot cards. “I actually don’t know why I started doing this. I just like how they look like picture frames, like it’s capturing the moment,” he says of this style. “It also symbolizes a window, like you’re peering into the distance or watching over someone.”
Common motifs and symbols appear throughout his pieces, with one particularly striking emblem being a sun with an eye in the sky, looking down on the figures below. Yosnier says that it represents someone watching over him, mainly his father, who passed away not too long ago.
Much of his work features a figure who resembles Yosnier himself. “It’s me depicting my self-worth. What I’m going through and documenting my life in some ways,” he says. “I like to portray myself getting ‘hurt,’ but it all serves for growth. There’s beauty behind a lot of pain that I experienced, and generally, lots of people experience. I like to highlight that a lot in my work.”
When viewing his illustrations either as individual pieces or together as a collection, it’s not surprising to hear Yosnier speak on the way he looks to his art practice as a form of healing and processing.
“All of my pieces are very therapeutic,” he shares. “My art lets me visualize and then analyze my emotions more, which helps me process things I’m going through more than anything else. They all aren’t direct self-portraits of myself, but I do consider them all to be self-portraits. I’ve cried while making seven or eight of my pieces. Towards the end when they all come together. When you just sit back and look at what you’ve created and finally get to absorb it.”
Yosnier represents a new generation of young artists who are social media natives that grew up in a fully formed digital world. As a result, his ethos as an artist is unmistakably Gen Z. “I feel like I caught this wave of digital art at the right time,” Yosnier tells me. “It had just started going up a couple of months after the time that I first posted. There was the whole digital versus physical art debate, but it’s really cool to see me and my friends get the visibility that we deserve.”
Yosnier has cultivated a robust, supportive online community on Twitter, composed of other young artists from all over the world. These artists span various mediums, from collagers and photographers to 3D artists. “It’s nice to surround myself with different art forms,” Yosnier says.
Just over a year ago, Yosnier was in the midst of moving when he and his work were thrust into the spotlight, thanks to a single retweet from the singer SZA. He posted an illustration he’d done of her—only the second piece of his he’d ever posted on Twitter—and SZA herself loved it so much that she reshared it to her audience. “It was overwhelming,” he says. “I never expected it. I wouldn’t say that I blew up from that, but it definitely helped me a lot, mentally and publicly.” To this day, SZA still messages Yosnier to check in on him. “Somebody got the piece tattooed on them a couple of months ago,” he says, “and she posted on her Story. It’s really nice to see that she actually cares, and she likes the piece.”
SZA isn’t the only one Yosnier’s work has resonated with—when he Tweets out his designs, he typically receives thousands of likes and retweets. “At this point, I guess I’m used to it, but it was always strange,” he says. “Even if I get like, 100,000 likes, I would never really expect that people will actually resonate with my work. But they will message me about how it’s affected them and how I inspire them. It’s cool, but it catches me off guard. I’m just a regular person!”
While Yosnier hasn’t invested much time into creating physical art just yet, he has aspirations to do so down the road. “I love digital art, and that’s my thing, but oil paintings are my favorite things to look at, visually,” he shares. “I would love to delve deep into physical art, but I need space for that. My environment needs to match my mind. Somewhere in Europe. Somewhere like Greece, somewhere by the water. Because I would love to paint outside.”
Otherwise, Yosnier is taking life as it comes. “I don’t like to think too far into the future. I like to take each day at a time because it gets a little stressful to think about like, ‘Oh, I should be doing this like ten years from now.’ I’ll figure it out when I get there,” he says with a refreshingly calm outlook. Until then, Yosnier has been making the most of the NFT market, finding success in posting his work to SuperRare.
While some might be skeptical of Gen Z, knowing there are young bucks out there like Yosnier should put us all at ease.