With his Free Energy Foxy Shazam poster, the least we can say is that Justin Santora strikes the eyes at first sight. The rest of his art is also pretty striking by often using wide empty spaces with only one small character somewhere. What could be scary red like that is balanced by a very soft use of colors for the background, giving a quite but afraiding impression. Like a cat finally, for those who are not used to them...Justin, according to the picture, knows them, maybe is it the reason why his work looks so peacefull.
If you were to come visit, there's a good chance we would listen to Fugazi, Archers of Loaf, Dinosaur Jr, Yuck, Beach Fossils, or some other mathy, low-fi noise. That, or National Public Radio, preferably if "Wiretap" is on. I love that Jonathan Goldstein.
Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?
I am an almost twenty-eight year old man who lives in Chicago. I like to ride my bike, and I like skateboarding. I wake up every day and make screen printed posters or artwork, drawings, paintings, or illustrations for galleries, bands, venues, other people, and for fun.
When did you start drawing?
Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins of your schoolbooks?
I recall getting a note on my eighth grade progress report that said "NO DRAWING!" I spent a lot of class time in high school drawing on sheets of notebook paper with ballpoint pens, but I also took my art classes pretty seriously. I don't think I really began to improve until college, though. I spent a good number of years sort of neglecting art when I should have been very studiously attacking life drawing, learning how to paint properly, and just pushing myself to use new media. Getting to work on drawings every day has been the best venue for improvement I've known.
Art has been my full time job for about two and a half years now.
Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?
I have in the past, but it's not something I have done recently or on any regular sort of basis. I'd love to get into bookmaking a bit. I have some ideas for a small edition of hardbound artbooks to illustrate, print, and assemble.
Where does your influence come from? Is there any artists/graphists you particularly like, what are your influences?
I do a lot of work in ink, and I think having idolized Bill Watterson as a kid and growing up on "Calvin and Hobbes" has given me at least a few Watterson-esque tendencies with regard for rendering. I also love Kathe Kollwitz, Francis Bacon, and Lichtenstein.
Much of my influence comes from other printers and friends that I know in Chicago like Dan MacAdam (Crosshair), Kathleen Judge, Jay Ryan, and Diana Sudyka, and Landland (from Minneapolis). Other poster artists who I don't necessarily consider direct influences on me stylistically, but still totally blow my mind and make me want to be a better artist are (just to name a few): Ryan Duggan, Steve Walters, Sonnenzimmer, Angry Blue, Comet Substance, Damien Tran, Lars P. Krause, and Luke Drozd.
What are the principal steps in your work ?
I start by doing a few concept sketches and gathering reference photos, if applicable. I will complete a final drawing in pencil on bond paper. I lay the paper down on my light table and do the finished ink drawing on a clean sheet of paper. The ink drawing is transferred onto film (and usually enlarged a bit) with a blueprint printer. That film is used as a guide for cutting other colors out of rubylith film or inking directly onto blank films. I tend to print one a color before I determine how to proceed with subsequent colors. Once a print is finished, it is sorted through to remove misprints, counted up, and then each print is signed and numbered.
My entire process is done by hand without computers.
How long does it take you to do a poster?
I try to be working on a few things at once, so it's not so easy to gauge exactly how long a poster takes. It depends on the project, but it shouldn't take more than a week from start to finish.
You have a very distinctive style, are you doing only what you feel like or if tomorrow somebody asks you an oil painting with horses running out of water with a sunset backdrop, is it a problem or are you up for it ?
A certain level of flexibility is important I think, but most people who approach me about working on something together have an idea of what sort of work I do and roughly what to expect. That said, I am always open to trying new things or working in ways that I haven't before.
I have done posters for The Appleseed Cast, James Blake, The Black Keys, Ween, Iron & Wine, among several others.
For which band would you love to work?
I can think of some broken up bands that I'll probably never get a chance to do a poster for. But as far as bands that are still together go, I'd love to do work for Joan of Arc, Sonic Youth, Superchunk, Beach Fossils, and Archers of Loaf now that they've been playing shows again.
Do you choose the artists yourself?
I have contacted bands/management in the past and established relationships that way. I usually think of bands that I already like or am interested in. I have also been approached by bands or venues and am open to work with almost anyone.
Sometimes I think the hardest part is coming up with something that will make an interesting or compelling poster. I know people who seem to hit it out of the park every time, and I have no idea how they do it. I've been halfway through a drawing before when it occurs to me that the idea I'm doing isn't really working, and I will decide to start over.
You feature in the new gigposters 2 book, how did you find yourself involved in it ?
I was already familiar with the Gigposters Volume 1 book, so it was exciting to be asked to participate in Volume 2. All the artists had to submit information and high resolution, print-ready images. I remember going to a copy shop late at night in hopes that whoever was working wouldn't bother to charge me the full price for such large, full color scans of the six or seven posters I submitted.
Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?
I think there is a huge scene and culture surrounding screen printing and rock posters right now. Events like Flatstock and gallery shows heighten the profile of rock posters and increase the strength and size of the community.
http://www.justinsantora.com/ and http://www.justinsantora.blogspot.com/ on the web. Around Chicago, try looking in vegan restaurants or the produce section.
The best praise you received lately?
My girlfriend Ingrid told me that I inspire her.
What can we wish you for the future?
The same things I wish you: love, comfort, and happiness.