Staying Creative with Santa West
This week we catch up with multi-disciplinary artist Santa West on his creative process and what keeps him inspired. This is our first collaboration with Santa who's watercolour paintings feature in our Clockwork Orange capsule on our longsleeve and T-Shirt.
Hey Santa, as someone who works across so many mediums, how would you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Santa West from Santa Cruz based in London. I’m probably best know for my zines which are mostly self-published and sold at shops in NYC, LA and Japan. Professionally, I’m sort of a factotum. Working mostly in video, animation when I can, with a little indie film here and there. I’m a wannabe writer who loves to paint, draw (badly), make collages and take photos. I’m all over the place creatively because I like to obsess and produce, produce, produce…
Whats your creative background?
Anything that ever seemed official - I fucked up. I’m an art school drop out, a high school drop out, I tried having shows and was rejected. This made me rethink things and after a while, realised everything I was looking for was right before-my-eyes. I came-up in the 80's California hard-core/surf/skate scene. It was small, intimate, and it sounds corny but really there was no “right” way of doing things. The more subversive, the better, especially if the art supplies were stolen from your school. My influences are pretty random… when I was a kid, my parents would sometimes dump me at these indie movie theaters (cheap babysitter) in San Francisco, pay like $3 for like a six hour montage of experimental shorts, cartoons, art-porn, concert films, whatever, it was cool. But other influences include… outsider and prison art, Richard Pryor, SST records (pre-1987), show flyers, people like Chris Burden (a friend shoot him for art), Ray Johnson, comics, gritty street photography and weirdos like the Gonz. One of my fave quotes is from the surf mag Primitive Skills, that kinda sums it up: “misuse of funds, distaste for authority, anti-social behaviour, freedom of thought & other undesirable side effects of salt water to the brain”.
You describe yourself as a photo hobbyist, it’s an interesting term - can you elaborate?
I love the look and feel of an old analogue cam. I like the routine and ritual of snapping pics, approaching photography like life - not to serious but with genuine curiosity. Sometimes, I take amazing photos and am super serious and other times I just wanna take Polaroids of dead stuff or people’s hands. A few of my photographs have been published, most of my zines are photo based, people like ‘em but I’ll never really make it as a pro.
Your work seems to involve a lot of photo collage and mixed media, is there anything that's influenced this? Any limitations or benefits?
I like hidden meanings, inside jokes, taking things out of context and collages always seemed like a fun way to create a subliminal message. I’ve always wished I could draw and paint in the traditional sense, so mixed media was an easy way for me to fake it. Plus, I like using what I have laying around.
Can you tell us more about the collaboration?
The film is still groundbreaking and so influential to this day. I wanted to do something different, to recreate the classic scenes and my favourite props while being original. Kubrick was very influenced by fine art and colour. I had this old German watercolour set hanging around and some typing paper, so I went for it. Clockwork Orange in watercolours? There were some skeptics!
Any advice for Staying Creative?
Embrace your vices, fail as much as possible, push your limits and look at as much shit as possible.
All time favourite film or piece of art?
So hard. The film Repo Man by Alex Cox had a huge influence on me and made me realize that maybe a guy like me could make something worthwhile. Ed Rusha’s artist book Nine Swimming Pools blew my mind because it was so familiar and inspired me to make zines. I like it dark so Blue Velvet and Lina Wertmüller's Seven Beauties for film and the painting The Calling of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio.
Finally, any artists or designers we should know about?
Raymond Pettibon, but everyone knows him. Lately I’ve been digging the painter Eric Yahnker and the sculptor Isabelle Albuquerque.