John Santos: Every Line Matters
I never went to art school, but rather started in the punk scene by drawing flyers for shows and designs for my band as well as friends bands. From there it’s just been sketching, practicing, learning from peers, and testing myself to get better and to really hone my skill.
I always loved metal and punk and had drawn designs for local bands here and there, but it really didn’t take off until the mid 90’s. I also loved crust punk, west coast power violence, and grindcore and started working with friends within that realm. My first break into metal would have been High On Fire. I just went up and asked Pike if I he needed any art. He said no at first, but he liked what I had come up with and put me to work. From there word of mouth got my work around.
I’ve established a style that I like to work in and a way of doing things that sometimes boards on the insane. I’m obsessed with lines and try to make every bit of ink count. I use Sakura Micron pens (005-02 & brush), CoPic pens (003-01 & brush), a steel ruler, compasses, Zebra M-301.5 pencil, paint brushes, and a Mac-Pro 15″ with Photoshop CS6. I’m sort of a caveman.
Bands give direction all of the time. But by now, they will just let me go. I still like to talk with them in depth, taking into consideration the lyrics, music, and ideas before I start any sketches. I send out progress sketches to make sure the piece is going in the right direction. I love detail and getting trapped inside of piece working my way out to completion. I want to be able to hand draw everything and make sure that each line is perfect before I scan or photograph it so that the work is mostly focused on my end.
Without music, one of the biggest influences on my art would be gone. I think that they go hand in hand. The ideas that I get from just listening to music and reading lyrics is enough to keep me drawing until I die. By now I have settled into my own style that people can recognize and I in turn try to expand on that style by constantly sketching and pushing my own limits. I read, I have in depth conversations with the people around me, and I take ideas from my own life, but each helps to get ideas flowing and growing.
I loved the old record covers and was influenced by folks like Derrick Riggs, Dan Seagrave, Pushead, and even Gustave Dore’s illustrations. I also find inspiration in everything around me. Anything can spark an idea you just have to be open to seeing them. Noisear’s ‘Subvert The Dominant Paradigm’ comes closest to my actual style. Heavily detailed and filled with imagery that lets you know what you’re getting out of the record.
I’m currently a part of the Innovate The Mind Collective with Ryan Kasparian, Brian Mercer, Tom Denney, Rich Hall, Casey McKinley, Mike Fisher, to name a few. I’m a part of a two man art crew called Narwhal Ruckus with Alison Lilly of Vancouver, BC and a member of the Hung Jury, but you didn’t hear that last one from me.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2015 © Heavy Music Artwork. All Rights Reserved.