Recently the game has been showing love to the people it should’ve started with in the first place, the visual artists. Now we have hundreds of creative, different artists hailing from one end of the country to the other side of the globe and it’s about time they were given the recognition they deserve. Think about how many times you come across someone’s art and thought “I have no clue who this is but I love it” ? I can probably guess more times than you have fingers. Why do you think that is? It’s because the true talented artists are overlooked due to the hype and sensation for artists that aren’t being themselves and that are simply “riding the wave.” Today I’m going to try my hardest and open your mind to those that truly deserve the recognition they are deprived of. Meet Sam Santos, the young digital artists and fashion designer who has been recently working harder than most to fulfill her dream of changing the world with her art. I got the chance to speak with Sam on her journey and her life story which you can read below. Hope you enjoy!

Water Me, by Sam Santos

Who are you?

Sam: I’m Sam Santos. I’m an artist, a creator, a dreamer, and most importantly – a huge work in progress.

How old are you?

Sam: Just turned 19

Where are you from?

Sam: I was born in the Philippines but I grew up in SoCal

What is it that you do?

Sam: I’m an artist and a designer. It’s hard to label myself because I honestly love to do everything. I’ve been drawing and painting all of my life then I eventually found myself to shooting. I started from painting with watercolor to developing a love for digital painting. At the same time, I was exploring photography and knew that my work, whether it be painting or shooting, would revolve around my love for portraits/people. At the end of the day though, I’m in school for fashion design and that’s the industry I want to end up in, which no one really knows about me. I guess it’s all a part of experimentation and truthfully, I still have a lot of growth left to do so who knows where I’ll really end up?

So you’ve been drawing all your life? How’d you originally get introduced to it?

Sam: Yeah art is pretty much all I’ve known how to do. I was neither the most athletic nor the most intelligent of the bunch so I felt like that was my place, even at a young age. I think the first time I actually sat down and drew was while my mom was at work, she hired this guy to come to our house and teach me and my sister how to draw apples lol. Very random, but I think from that point on, my mom just kept buying us art supplies and it just sort of stuck.

How would you describe your different styles from when you first started?

Sam: I feel like throughout my growth in art, I’ve focused each “phase” in overcoming an insecurity with my work. I first started out with very realist work, just focusing on how “perfect” I can make a face because that’s what I /thought/ “standard art” should be. Then that sort of carried on to my digital work, softening but also dramatizing features. Then I started to slowly get more into textural details with the skin and really practicing different ways to interpret the face. I was really terrible at eyes and hands for a while, so a lot of my work was about distracting from that or even emphasizing that. Now, I think I just don’t care too much about messing up but really getting into making a face more interesting. But through the mess of all of that, I feel like the only thing that’s been consistent is really that I enjoy faces and bodies and I love representing my subjects in the same cool-toned, dream-like setting (it’s very rare I stray from my purple/blue/pink color palette lol)

Darkroom by Sam Santos

Darkroom by Sam Santos

So how did you originally make that transfer from paper to digital? Was it hard at first?

Sam: Mm sort of. I think the hardest part was the technology part to be honest. Finding the right tablet and photoshop brushes that works with your technique and enhances your abilities and whatnot. Also, I find that the fact that people can zoom in my digital work gives extra pressure for every detail to be so perfect because you have the ability to undo/erase mistakes and even zoom in to get the finest details (which can also be a massive pro). To be honest, I feel like it’s harder to make the transition from digital back to paper. I just started to pick up a real paintbrush and the process seems a lot longer but at the same time, refreshingly spontaneous.

So at the same time you started digital drawing how did you get into photography?

Sam: I was always on the hunt for more to do in art. I felt a little insecure in high school being in a group of some of the smartest kids in my grade so I felt like I wanted to involve myself deeply in other forms of art, if I wasn’t gonna “excel” at the regular academic classes. I joined the Yearbook class my freshman year of high school and they required us to do both graphic design and photography so I suppose that was my introduction to the digital world. I picked up on Photoshop and inDesign really easily so all of it happened pretty naturally. Most of all I felt a really huge need to just MAKE work. It didn’t matter what it was. I think that’s why I’m so scattered as an artist and this habit still follows me today but to physically have an idea and make something out of it was what was important to me, whether it be paintings or photography, I needed to make something and call it mine.

Which would you say you like more? Photography or Digital art? 

A piece from Sam Santos' "Dreamland" series

A piece from Sam Santos’ “Dreamland” series

Sam: I feel like it’s pretty equal. I know that’s cheating but they’re constantly changing. I have a love/hate relationship with digital art honestly because sometimes I feel like since it’s all on the computer, I don’t have that opportunity to really get messy with it which is so important in my creative process. With photography, I don’t consider myself as a professional or even label myself as a “photographer” since it’s all for the sake of fun and spontaneity. I just find a model for a very vague idea and see what happens there. I think my favorite shoots have been when so many things go off plan and I have to work with what I have and the result is just natural. So to go back to the question, I love both but the difference is that I find digital art to be very underrated. I wish I could convince more people to experiment with it.

As a child did you think you would be taking your art as serious as your are now?

Sam: Not really, I didn’t think it was something I aspired to be. Especially in my culture and family with no real history of being an “artist”, I didn’t think it was a possible thing to accomplish. My parents were great at encouraging me though – they always bought me art books and supplies and whatnot. The ultimate dream from when I was a kid was to work in fashion though, and I think that’s a large influence in my work. I’ve always been drawn to images of models and what this particular industry deems as beautiful, face-wise and body-wise. Even as a kid, I recognized that the fashion world was trying to sell these representations of “god-like” and “perfect” figures to people and it certainly affected what I put down on paper then eventually evolved with me in my work. But looking at where I am now, there’s no way little me would have predicted that I was going this direction and I honestly think that’s the beauty of growing up an artist.

Where do you see yourself in these next couple of years?

Sam: God who knows… Clearly, I’m indecisive haha (it’s the Libra in me). I’m hoping that I’ll at least grow as a designer and gain more confidence in my work. I’m really hard on myself for the smallest things especially in the fashion world which is why I still do art and photography on the side. I have plenty of enhancement and work left to do these last couple of years in school and I never want to put out anything I’m not proud of, especially in such a dog-eat-dog industry. I find it weird when people call me “brave” for pursuing a career in the creative world but it really wasn’t a hard decision because I truly have no other place I belong. It’s the only thing I’ve trained my mind to know and be familiar with and without it, I don’t know where I’d be. But I know that I’ll always love creating no matter what it is and that’s vague but I never want to limit myself on what I’m gonna do. If it happens to be fashion, then great but if not, I’ll find something else. The art/fashion industry is so unpredictable and changing so fast so you have to be prepared for whatever happens which is really why I can’t see myself settling down on one career. I have a deep love for the things that I’m good at (and not good at) and having that determination and willingness in your work is probably the most satisfying thing, despite the difficulty of it all.

What would you say to someone looking to take themselves serious in your field? Any words of advice?

Sam: Make something everyday. No matter how big or little, I think it’s important to have a record of the little things that you see and like because you never know when you’ll need it. At the same time, I feel like I grow a little more taking time out of my day to sketch or write something little everyday. It’s a win win. Research!!! For anyone uninspired or unsure where they want to be, I’ve found certain parts of myself as an artist through researching different eras and movements even if they’re not art related. Just fall into a rabbit hole of information and ideas, I can’t even emphasize how important it is. Never compete with other people. I still have to remind this to myself everyday but in an industry where people are coming in and out, coming up with new ideas and moving at different paces, nothing will set you further back. It just makes you insecure and competitive. I’ve seen so many artists or creatives getting lost in the popularity and attention and even changing to cater to a specific audience. I’m a full supporter of confidence in one’s work but I find some internet “buzz art” to be temporary and nothing is more disappointing than wasted potential. It’s such a cliche, but you can’t please everybody so you might as well make work /you/ like.

For more work from Sam you can follow her on Twitter for news on her art, possible sneak peeks of projects, and photos from her shoots. You can also check out Sam’s website here for a more in depth look at her artwork. Below is a gallery of some more pieces and photos by Sam not shown in the interview. Show some love and spread the word on this very slept on artist!

About The Author

19. Editor/Writer/small time Photographer & Videographer |
Stundent @ University of Kentucky |
Twitter & Instagram: @phakehawaii

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