Artist Profile: Kimberly Santiago

Kimberly Santiago began her career as a graphic designer and later became the Department Chair of Graphic Design and Fine Art at O’More College of Design. While she continues to teach at art workshops, her art now focuses on mixed media collage, where she combines vintage art with pop style. Kimberly is also the author of Collage Playground: A Fresh Approach to Creating Mixed-Media Art.

Q: What kind of art are you known for?
A: My flavor of choice when making art is mixed media. I love the process of using images, papers, or ephemera in a new way; painting on them, drawing or sewing to create art.

Q: What are you working on right now?
A: Currently I am completing the final touches on art for a gallery opening. The major component of the show is a project entitled 2020. This group of art consist of two hundred and two, four inch square panels. The art is a collaborate effort combining drawings from the future high school graduating class of 2020 and myself. In 2009 I visited several second grade classrooms and ask the students the following, “If I could wish for one thing in the world if would be….” The students were then free to express their ideas on plain white paper using their choice of crayons, markers or pencils.  Combined with other images and mediums, the children’s art is represented throughout the panels.  The objective of Project 2020 is to incorporate the intellectual thoughts and creative nature of children in a visual statement. It is my hope that this project will continue and become an annual event, with final completion in the year 2020.

Q: What’s your current favorite, can’t-live-without-it tool?
A: We all have that special tool, one that we guard and NEVER lend out. Mine would be my small scissors (actual surgical scissors). They have such precision, especially when I am cutting tiny, tiny, tiny images.

Q: What is your least favorite technique that you still use anyway?
A: Mixed media has such a range of techniques and materials; my least favorite is applying wet medium (adhesive) to my materials. I don’t like the feel on my hands or the clean up.

Q: What is on your workspace right now ?
A: My little studio space on Strawberry Alley houses a plethora of things, art, books, letters, furniture and sometimes my cat, Boo Boo Kitty. On the worktable at this moment is a piece titled The Joke Thief, waiting to be fitted with installation hardware.

Q: With whom would you love to spend one day making art?
A: The year was 1991 and a particular book, Griffin and Sabine seized my soul; Nick Bantock’s beautiful writing and illustrations (mixed media) reinforced my attraction to art. I then realized how conventional the unconventional could be; so thank you Mr. Bantock. If you ever have the time, I would be honored to spend the day creating art with you.

Q: What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
A: I honor my father with my desire to read. I truly love the written word, anything from instruction booklets to classics. In fact a special treat to myself (don’t you love those) was a Kindle. Yes, I am an e-reader—instance gratification downloading a book and reading while never leaving the house.

I also belong to a book club, which pushes me to read books that ordinarily I would not select. Over the holidays I read the trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games. Ms. Collins writes for a young adult audience, however I found this series of books to be up to par for adult readers.

Q: What’s the most inspiring trip you’ve ever taken or adventure you’ve ever had?
A: Honestly I am inspired everywhere I go; the grocery store, Starbucks or a walk around the neighborhood. I see things that trigger creative thoughts and off I go. Traveling to far away places, (Scotland and England a couple times a year) usually pushes me to a higher level of creativity. To experience another way of life and culture makes me ponder new ideas and thoughts, which in turn becomes my inspiration.

Q: What’s the last thing you cooked?
A: I know that microwaving food is not cooking (my husband informed me of this fact).  Cooking at the Santiago home slowed down when children flew the nest. My husband’s office is in New York (therefore he travels a bit) so my needs are met quite easily…. Marie Calendar, value menu at Wendy’s, dinner with friends. But this question caught me at a good (cooking) time of the year—the holidays. Big meal, prime rib, new potatoes in garlic sauce, corn casserole, chicken and dressing, seven layer salad, and fresh bread.

Q: If you could surround yourself with only one color, what would it be?
A: Green, green, green, green — all shades, hues and saturations of green. Feels good, looks good and smells good.

Q: Do you have a talisman/power garment/ magical thing you wear?
A: I don’t have a talisman or power garment, however I do believe in the power of positive thinking. Feeling confident and believing in what I am trying to achieve. Whether is a simply task or a complicated one, I strive to maintain a certain level of positive energy.

Q: What’s your favorite place in all the world?
A: Many, many favorite places….I love to be immersed in a new and different environment; but my most favorite place is my studio. The comfort it provides is as close to being home as possible.

Q: What one thing do you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
A: A few things on my bucket list include hiking the Grand Canyon, hang gliding and riding on the Orient Express.

Q: What’s the best day you’ve ever had?
A: I have a collection of “best days,” days where a single phone call or email can bring good news. Days where a stranger’s kindness can be an emotional redirection of goodness. Days filled with calming silence or endless chatter. I am eternally grateful for my collection and hope to continue to add more days.

Q: What’s today’s Word to Live By?
A: My daily mantra is “believe.”  It is so important to have that confidence in yourself as a person and artist. When the chaos of life takes over and I start to have a relapse in my confidence, I take time to regroup and reclaim positive energy.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: Guilty pleasure is a cafe mocha, a treat that inspires me to complete whatever grueling task is at hand.

Q:  What do you listen to when you create?
A: Jason Mraz has captured my ear lately; his lyrics are similar to free writing or stream of consciousness. The rhythmic flow of his words are soothing and inspirational. Audio books also fill my studio, especially if I haven’t had my reading fix.

Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: I love this question! My grandson and I discuss this often. My superpower would be to fly—the idea of being weight-less and streaming through the air fascinates me.  Imagine how handy it would be to take off and fly everywhere.

Q: When is your favorite time of day?
A: The natural cycle of time is inherent in our mind, bringing in the ability to know what time of day it is without checking the clock. My body’s cadence has changed over the years, adapting to work and family schedules. However, the one measure of rhythm that has remained the same is four p.m. For me, this magic hour marks a passing of accomplishment and relaxation. Even if I haven’t completed all the day’s task, I feel the need to slow down and enjoy a cup of coffee; in this period, I reflect on the day, maybe read or draw. On days that I have evening obligations or commitments, I postpone my time and promise to return as soon as possible.

Q: If you could re-do a classic movie, what would you remake and how?
A: I was supposed to marry Cary Grant. Of course this never worked out….age differences, etc. But his movies have always been some of my favorite classics. One in particular, Penny Serenade, is a heartbreaker. My remake would involve one decision, but I am not going to reveal the change. Perhaps it is better for you to view the movie and see what you think it would have been. Get your box of tissues…

Q: What is your first memory?
A: I am standing in the center of St. Mark’s Square on an October day, the sun is warm on my face. I feel especially good today, wearing a new Sears & Roebuck catalog dress, with a Peter Pan collar, puff sleeves, and a ribbon belt at the waistline. However, my pink wool coat is a little uncomfortable and warm. My father has given me a bag of bread crumbs to feed the birds. But feeding them is not my objective, I want to catch one and take it home.

Q: Why do you make art?
A: My art making is a passion of an unrelenting desire that I must fulfill. It is my means of expressing thoughts and ideas. I think that everyone does this in one way or other, many write, others repair things, solve problems, teach or heal. Whatever the outlet, we all possess creativity, making art in our own way.

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for artists?
A: Always believe in yourself and never give up.

Keep up with Kimberly Santiago on her website and her blog.

Click here learn more about or to purchase Kimberly’s book, Collage Playground.


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