Artist of the Month October 2018: Gregory Santos
I’d like to introduce you to Gregory Santos, a wonderfully talented Artist based in Denver, CO. His lithographic and screen prints are amazing to behold, and speak to his life in New York before moving to Denver. Gregory is our Artist of the Month for October and his full interview is below.
How did you get started with Printmaking?
As a freshman at Syracuse University I visited the print shop for an open studio day before having to declare my major. It was my first time seeing a stone lithograph being printed. To make the process even more cool, one of the graduate students was printing her stone directly onto a thrift store wedding dress. That probably wasn't the best idea as she risked breaking the stone due to terribly uneven pressure from the fabric seams, but the result was unlike anything I'd ever seen. It throttled my mind and challenged my entire notion of how to make art and what it could be. I was hooked right then and there.
So what would you say your art is about and what do you focus on primarily?
My art is an exploration of emotional, intimate, physical relationships as well as elemental interrelationships.
I shift between stone lithography, photo plate lithography, and screen printing regularly. I examine the way of life of my home, New York, and how it's changed. I've been exploring the culture of the city I've left behind, the relationships I left behind, and the relationships I had with the city itself.
This past year I've delved into the issue of border security by putting a positive spin on the disparaging "bad hombre" comments made by Trump. This series culminated in a site-specific, temporary mural where I screen printed directly on a gallery wall as a backdrop to display the lithographs.
What is it that you love most about Printmaking in particular?
Not knowing what the end result is going to be. I design all my compositions in layers without giving a thought to color theory until I'm actually on the press. This allows me to be tight and controlling in the first half of the creative process then loose and exploratory in the second half.
What’s your biggest struggle with Printmaking?
Easy, simple answer. Any intaglio mark making process. Every time I make an etching I have difficulty developing my imagery slowly, in stages on a copper plate. Pulling impressions to see how my marks translate on paper frustrates me to no end. I'm none too confident in the finished print and tend to restart the imagery as a lithograph.
Is printmaking/art what you do full-time? If so, how did you start out?
I'm the Printmaking Director at Art Gym Denver and have been for 3 years. I spend 40+ hours a week in the print shop. I've been fortunate to have almost every day of my adult life revolve around a print shop since receiving my printmaking BFA in 2002. Existing within a printmaking studio is all I've ever known. The location, style, and nature of the shops have changed through the years, but slinging ink has been a constant in my life.
You’ve shared some work with us today. Can you tell us about that?
"Peace. Friendship. Limits. Settlement." is the most recent from the "Bad Hombre" series. The Bad Hombre references a comment made by President Trump during the third 2016 United States Presidential Debate. As skulls are part of Mexican iconography and art, here I pair a skull with imagery of skilled labor and hard work (ax), beauty (rose), Americana (cowboy hat), and a border wall (chain link fence) separating the hombre from the life left behind or the life desired.
"Subway Showtime" is a vibrantly energetic, fluid, abstract exploration of a New York City subway busking dance performance. This form of creative expression has been targeted by and cracked down on by the NYPD and the MTA in attempts to remove it from culture.
"Commuters. Map." is my exploration of New York City commuters seen from above, spread out over a never-ending city street map and displays the congestion of bodies that occurs twice a day during the rush hour commute. Each abstracted human form is the size a raw sugar crystal.
"Hundreds 'n' Thousands at Jones Beach" is my response to the ever persistent and growing drug epidemic. The syringe image is taken directly from a sticker placed on trash bins in Denver. The blend within the syringe are the colors of the Firecracker popsicle, synonymous with summer in America. The background pattern are actual size hundreds and thousands (sprinkles) printed from photo plates.
Where can people find you or your work online?
Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?
I have a shop apron collection. The print community is tight, hard working, and passionate and we need to support one another. I can only wear one apron at a time, obviously, but I collect aprons from the printmaking studios I visit as a way to support the work they do and promote them.
I want to thank Gregory for taking the time to interview with us and share in his work! He’s an amazing artist, and I hope that you go check him out on Instagram and visit his site to see more of it. Leave a comment below on what you love most about his work and story!
*If you’re interested in being featured as an Artist of the Month, please email email@example.com and link your Instagram profile along with a brief description of your work as a printmaker.