Monday, September 30, 2013

Artist Interview No. 1 Genevieve Santos

I am SO excited to share this interview with an artist I admire very much, Genevieve Santos. I met Genevieve a few years ago, Victoria of Paper and Type, introduced us. 
1) What are some of your favorite books/artists/ illustrators as a child? Do you feel like they have (or still do) influence you?
GS: Like a lot of kids, I grew up on Roald Dahl, Maurice Sendak, and Disney Afternoon. These influences summarize my artwork and sensibilities pretty darn well--scribbly illustrations, goofy stories, monsters, and animation. I've always drawn, but the real driving force is my love for animation. Once I figured out how to work the VCR & remote control as a kid, I drove my family bananas watching cartoons frame by frame. As in I hit the pause button, sat really close to the TV with my sketchbook, and pressed the FWD button whenever I was ready to study the next frame. I was an absolute nerd. Though I don't animate anymore, I think it influences my work immensely. When I illustrate something, I try to tell a story like a key frame--with a singular, still image hinting at a beginning and an end. And writers like Roald Dahl and Maurice Sendak taught me that great stories can be off-the-wall ridiculous and playful, as long as they have a lot of heart.
(Roald Dahl image from the huffington post)
2) How often do you draw?
GS: I draw everyday, which is necessary since it's my full-time job. Gotta get paid. The real struggle is finding the time to draw for myself. I'm trying a new routine where I draw before bed, and as a result, I've come up with some fun stuff
Once upon a time, I attended a panel discussion of illustrators and a young, aspiring illustrator in the audience asked for advice. The guy answered, "Draw every day. Doesn't matter what it is, or even how long. Just do it every day." I'm pretty sure professional writers give the same advice to their novices, and I'd like to think that I am a product of that mantra.  
3) What do you love about traveling? And how does traveling relate to your work/art?
GS: TRAVELING!! Where do I begin?! I have a goal of visiting 30 countries by 30. At age 29, I've visited 26 countries in the past 7 years. The goal is really about making sure I leave the country and explore. I can be a hermit with my work, so it's important I have an adventure in the name of creative inspiration. I often travel alone, too, to give myself the flexibility of stopping and drawing whenever I want. Most recently I revisited the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, and spent a few days drawing elephants with another artist who lives in the park. It was just us and the elephants, like a walking/drawing safari. I also rented a camper van in New Zealand, and drove through the South Island--again, by myself--hiking, wine tasting and drawing. Being in the middle of no where with a sketchbook is a powerful experience.
4) What is your favorite piece or drawing currently?
The pieces I'm most proud of are "Oranges & Elephant," "Rawr," and "Clink." In my early emo days, I painted my relationships. So if you see an illustration of a girl with black hair and a guy... that's probably a guy I dated. So, "Clink" is a small doodle in my sketchbook waaaaay back from when I was first dating Kevin.  I think it's a good sign that Kevin has been my best muse. 
Do you see the resemblance?
"Rawr" is the first illustration I drew for my unpublished children's book, so it's very near and dear. I also really love her chubby arms. "Oranges and Elephant" is one of those pieces where I can't believe I made it. Fun fact: I painted it trying to get over a guy while listening to "Fake Empire" by The National on repeat. EMOOOOO. Another fun fact, it was the blond guy.
At the moment, I'm working on the 2014 calendar. The theme is "Adventures with Teddy." Have a peek. I also love the stickers I just made. I used to collect stickers as a kid, and count them every Sunday. I had over 1,000 stickers so it's pretty nifty seeing my art in sticker form.
5) Tell us about your workspace
My workspace is ever-changing. Over the years, it's been a dining room table in my parent's home, a space in Tech Shop, Victoria of Paper & Type's dining room table, and even my car. I roam a lot so the physical space always changes. But I make sure to bring my printer, scanner, computer and art supplies. I have shipping supplies and inventory in Brooklyn, Los Angeles and San Jose, so whenever I arrive, I'm ready to rock.

6) Being a creative artist means sometimes you get stuck in a creative rut. How do you shake things up?
I hop on a plane and go somewhere. It's an expensive addiction, but I never regret it. For times when I don't have the flexible schedule or money, I escape to San Francisco, take a walk, go on a bike ride, or do yoga. Something physically active that will distract my brain. I also recently downloaded the Disney Animated app on my iPad and every time I fiddle with it, I'm pumped to draw again.

7) It's great to work for yourself but there are pros and cons. List a few of your pros and cons.
Pro: You never have to update your resume, which I think wins the universe. 
Pro: Setting your own schedule. I haven't stayed in the same city for more than 6 weeks in the past 4 years so it's nice not having to request vacation days every time. 
Pro: Netflix and podcasts, all day, e'erday. I think this is a common practice amongst crafters since we talk about TV a lot when we see each other at craft fairs.
Con: Working alone. I feel like I've lost some of my people skills. Half-joking.
Con: Learning when to say NO. It's tough to say no to work when it's never-ending. But it's necessary. I take at least one mandatory vacation day a week.
Con: SCHEDULE C. (IRS tax form for small businesses) UGH!

8) My biggest con is handling with a difficult customer. How do you deal? Any tips?

Oh that is tough, too. I listened to the audiobook, "Delivering Happiness" and there's a section about customer relations. They make it a top priority to "deliver happiness" to their customers, not in the sense that the customer is always right, but the customer should have a positive experience from start to end, not just when something goes wrong. They attribute much of their success to that intention. I gained more patience after listening to their story. 

When I do come across a tricky situation, I talk it out privately with my craft peers. They immediately understand the complexity of the problem, and are most likely not as emotional as I am. I also wait a day to respond. I write a draft of what I want to say before bed, then in the morning I revise it. My head is clearer and I think both parties are more open to listening and working it out. Once it's all resolved, I reflect on it, altering my policies and/or contracts if necessary and hope to prevent it from happening again.

Thanks for answering all of my questions, Genevieve! Now, on to some more cuteness-
She just came out with these ADORABLE mail themed stickers- what? I LOVE THEM. Not only did she draw these, and get them made into stickers, she also sent me some! Along with the stickers, she also included a sweet note. I can't believe I inspired them- these are way cuter than anything I could ever come up with.
Really, aren't these fantastic?
I needed to use these right away, they were way too good to just sit on my desk.
They are on outgoing mail this week :)
You can find these mail themed stickers, and more, in Genevieve's shop.

If you're an artist that would like to be interviewed on Paper Pastries Blog, please get in contact with us.


  1. ADORABLE stickers! I die. I love that the girl writing a letter is left-handed (I'm left-handed too). :) She captured the emotion and "feel" of letter writing/receiving so well! I wish I were an artist!!

    Genevieve, I really love your style. "Rawr" is so awesome.

  2. P. S. Traveling alone and for creative inspiration sounds like a dream.

  3. I have "Roawr" pinned a while back! SO COOL! She is delightful and incredibly talented! I just can picture her being a little girl and rewinding her vcr a million times to view each cartoon's frame.

  4. oh, i just caught up & saw this post! happy to see miss santos featured here, & i too am in love with her new correspondence stickers.

    i so appreciate the creative community you've introduced me to also, margaret! xo



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