Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Justin Santora

[Untitled], 2008, enamel on skateboard deck

How do you decide on the subject matter that you chose to portray? I'm attracted to mundane aspects of the human experience. I used to hate drawing the human figure, and I think it shows in the stylized nature of this particular work. The stuff I’m doing now is more realistic. I really enjoy accentuating the more ordinary facets of daily life—people doing athletic stretches, sitting in waiting rooms, conversing in offices, etc.

When you approach a piece, how much of the process is intellectual for you and how much of it is gut instinct; simply letting your hands work? I think my process is largely cognitive. I tend to work intuitively and gestural, but it's almost always in the parameter of some kind of idea. I try to give my work a lot of thought, particularly when it comes to the use of color and concept. I love making obscure cultural references or connections to political or philosophical ideology, neither of which are present in the works featured here, incidentally.

I Hate Our Answering Machine, 2008, enamel on skateboard deck

Tell us about your recent artwork. Lately, I've been thinking about the corporate exploitation of subcultures within the framework of Capitalism. I did a series of enamel drawings on skateboard decks depicting scenes from the white-collar workplace. It was sort of my way of commodifying the business world the way skateboarding and punk rock are being co-opted, neutered, and sold back to us. I think there's a lot of humor in this concept.

What artists have influenced you and why? The first artist I ever really liked was probably Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes. I used to read his strip every day, and I wanted to grow up to be a cartoonist. Watterson’s integrity and the message he injected into his work shaped some of my own principles while I was growing up.
I really like Liechtenstein, Francis Bacon, and Oldenburg for their respective senses of humor and unique intellectual approaches to art making. Studying their work really got me thinking about content, context, and process.

Did your family encourage you to become an artist? Yes. From a very early age, my parents have been very supportive. I think they might have expected something a little more traditional, but they've always encouraged me to pursue art.

"Untitled" 2007, Xerox collage on paper

Describe the environment and atmosphere in which you work. Do you generally work alone or with people?
I’m currently using my bedroom as a studio space. I have large rolls of white paper that I can tape up to the wall for sketches and notation. I usually keep a running tab of ideas, concepts, and connections while arranging a composition. I prefer to work alone. I just try to stay relaxed but focused. And to enjoy myself, of course.

What interests do you have other than art?
I’ve been skateboarding ever since I was twelve, so that’s always something I make time to do. I also love playing music. I was actively playing in bands for about six years. I’d really like to get out playing more shows again. I’m also interested in politics and the general workings of the world. I am vegan, too, so animal rights are also important to me.