Sally Santana interview with Blacklisted

Sally Santana

Discovering the print and illustration work of fledgling artist Sally Santana, and speaking to her about what inspires her process

Published: March 28, 2017Words: Sally Santana & J.Scott StrattonArtist Link: Instagram

As a connoisseur of all things creative, I sometimes marvel at the ease of the world that we live in. In lieu of all the political turmoil and global catastrophe, it is sometimes easy to take for granted some of the luxuries that we have available to us. It’s only been a decade since the first iPhone, yet I can’t even remember life with a smartphone.

Discovering a new artist, musician, designer, or writer can be done on the short train ride to work. Artists, even though they may be quite new to the field, can stand on a digital stage amongst legends and icons as if they were equal peers. In fact, many times a lesser known artist that is just getting started will have a larger digital audience gazing upon their works than some of those whose oeuvre spans decades.

This is exactly how I discovered the print work and illustration of Danish artist Sally Santana. Amongst the mindless scrolling of the finger that was occurring one morning commute, one of Santana’s pieces caused my finger to lock and hold. A black ink on white paper likeness of a human head—constructed from what looked to be a cross between a broad brush and finger painting. It was simple and powerful.

The next step from liking the image to contacting Santana about her fledgling career as an artist occurred on a five-minute train ride between Vesterbro and the main station—sometimes it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.

Tell me how you got started in your artistic endeavors?

When I was a kid I wasn’t sleeping a lot, mostly I woke up at 4-5 a.m and my parents didn’t want me to watch television that early, so my dad made a little table for me in the kitchen where I could sit, draw and build stuff. In school, it was more fun to draw than read and so on… So for me, it was never a decision to do this, it just kinda happened that way. And if I could I would probably choose something else to live off of. I’m 20 and just moved back home to my parents because of the money.

Can you take me through the process of how a piece goes from idea to inception?

Uh la, that’s a big question. Okay, I’ll just explain for the pieces of my current exhibition. Two and half year ago I got sick with Lyme disease. In the beginning, the doctors thought it was narcolepsy and gave me Ritalin, and when it didn’t work they just offered to higher the dose. Long story short, after two years they found out I had Lyme disease. By this time I was only in bed, I had problems walking, I was hyper-sensitive to special noises and so on.

After a time like that, you have a lot you want to get rid of and express. for my exhibition close and loud my works are mostly focused on my experience with sounds. This is gonna sound crazy – but the sound I was most sensitive to was the sound of people chewing on food. for me it felt like the sound was scratching my skull.

Would you say that your work comes from a research of a concept, or gut feeling?

Right now my work is mostly a translation of things that happens to me, but my earlier work was the combination of documenting and concept. I don’t really plan or systemize my work.