FK chats to talented artist Alberto Santiago about his anime inspired oil paintings, his love of music and life experiences!
How would you describe the style of your work?
Each painting of mine has a story behind it and is based on a friend or an intriguing person I’ve met on my travels. I would describe my style as traditional Flemish portraiture meets anime. The flemish portraiture method involves building up layers of oils, giving it a finish that has a translucent look, a quality that improves with age. The combination of this old-fashioned style is worked in with my subjects having anime-like features.
What is your background and what lead you to where you are today?
Straight out of University I worked as a 3D artist for a small company within Fox Studios. The studio was a 2 by 5 meter room shared with three other people tucked away in the corner of the factory. Not the best place to work but it was cool being surrounded by props from Starwars, Superman, and they had a Super Metroid suit. I then moved on to game cinematics working on stuff like Justice League Heroes, Mafia II and Dawn of War II. My position was a technical artist at the studio. I learnt many things about lighting, 3d composition and matte painting which I find very valuable when constructing my own traditional based work. The last project I was on was for Happy Feet II. Being surrounded by a thousand creatively talented artist all working on the same project was an amazing experience. When there is that much creativity in the air you cannot help but push yourself to do better.
Who are you favourite artists? and what inspires your work?
Music inspires my creative process. I have a tendency to loop albums or songs that evoke a certain mood, it places me in a zone. Nina Simone and Melbourne band Circular Keys were listened to a lot in the making of my latest works. As for visual artists, it changes quite dramatically from time to time but the ones that come to mind are William Bouguereau, Guan ZeJu, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and Jeremy Geddes.
What materials and mediums do you enjoy working with and exploring? And what other areas would you like to explore or expand into?
I love painting with oils, I take my time when it comes to painting so the lengthy oil process suits me quite well. I had experimented with acrylics however, found the drying time too quick, I find oils more malleable, they allow me to build-up a work gradually. I appreciate the rich colours of oils and also that they stand the test of time. I have experimented with Chinese inks on silk which was interesting. There are particular ways of holding a brush and there is skill to the flow in which you brush the ink on the silk. I may possibly expand to ink work in the future.
Describe your workspace and surroundings and what your creative process is.
Messy, everything is on the floor, but I know exactly when someone moves something out of its place. Its probably looks very similar to whats going on in my head when I’m making something. I don’t really like plotting my ideas on paper or sketching it out, my creative process stems from life experiences. For example, portrait of Hanna is based on an amazing girl who appeared in a white victorian dress and approached my friends and I offering to help us navigate our way around the enormous city of Chong Qing in China. What had been intended a 3 day stay turned into a 9 day stay. Hanna adopted us and showed us an amazing time. Despite being a local, she stood out as each day she wore a unique outfit attracting many onlookers.
What advice would you give other artists/illustrators starting out?
If every piece you create is for yourself and you fall in love with it, chances are that other people fall in love with it too. Presentation is key, make sure your display is consistent and well prepared.
What has been your favourite project or exhibition and why?
Most favourite exhibition was a solo show in Tokyo Harajuku. I had just completed a set of eight artworks that hadn’t been seen by anyone. My Japanese was barely passable, having learnt from watching anime, but with this and impromptu sign language I managed to communicate the significance of each piece. The art culture in Japan is very vibrant and my art was warmly welcomed.
What aspirations do you have for the future, and where do you hope to see your work?
I would like to keep improving my painting technique, refining each painting, raising it’s level beyond the last. I’m currently working on a new series of artworks, I hope to exhibit these around Australia and overseas.