The Carcosa Interview: The Art of Santana Gives Disney Princesses Tattoo’d Makeovers

My love for cute stuff cannot be contained! I was recently browsing the internet when I came across an article briefly spotlighting the brilliant work of The Art of Santana, an NYC native with a passion for illustration and design. His Pin-Up Disney Princesses have recently garnered attention and I wanted to be able to get a more inside look of the mind of someone unafraid to unwind the traditions of our beloved Disney Princesses. Enjoy!

Age: 34
Title: Senior Art Director – Visual Storyteller

Black Nerd Problems: Please tell us about yourself!
The Art of Santana: Firstly I’m a father of two lovely toddlers a boy and a girl! They are my main source of motivation! I’m absolutely mad about hats! I was born and raised in Manhattan NYC, and I’m very proud of my city, but I’ve been living in Tampa, Florida for quite a few years now. My day job is a Senior Art Director at the Dunn & Co. Ad agency in Ybor City Tampa, Florida. I have free-lanced as an illustrator for Disney World, PUBLIX, and a couple other companies that have been kind enough to give me the opportunity to illustrate for them. I absolutely love illustrating characters, environments, and telling stories through my art. If people like my art that’s a cool thing, but if they connect with it on a personal level, that’s a truly rewarding feeling.

I haven’t had much time to freelance these days as I’ve been focusing on my art prints and comic con shows (Miami Magic City is next January 2016!) but I will also be at CTN Animation Expo 2015 this November in Burbank, California. I’m also working on a video tutorial for Digital Tutors, which is an online company that offers training and development videos for the entertainment/animation industry. My plate is pretty full, but I’m excited about all the fun things going on at the moment.


BNP: Who is the most underrated princess or queen in animation?
TAOS: Hmmm, this is a super tough question for me because I feel like the answer can go so many ways, just depends what angle you want to answer from. But I will say I feel like while Snow White is very popular, several other princess often get the lime light and center stage. Snow White has always been my favorite and I think it’s because she was the first. I think me favoring her is attached to how much I love the Disney story and how that dream became a reality; Walt’s vision for what this film could be even when others didn’t see it and had their doubts.

BNP: What is your creative process like?
TAOS: First, I try to think about what I want my art to say. It has to be more than a pretty picture. Usually I like people to think when they look at my art. Then, I do research. I do so much research! So for example, I’m working on Jasmine next so I re-watched Aladdin several times and Googled information about the culture, fashion, architecture, et cetera. I like to familiarize myself with my subject before I start drawing because you never know where inspiration might be found. I believe inspiration is found by researching – not by looking at a blank page.


BNP: If your art could speak, what would they say?
TAOS: I would hope they say they like me. It’s funny you ask that because I can get pretty attached to my illustration work. So I would hope that my characters would say I pay attention to detail, that I’m thoughtful about the worlds I put them in, the clothes… it’s all in the details!

BNP: What inspires you?
TAOS: Life! Real life — regular people are the best source of inspiration. It always comes across genuine and I find that when an art piece is truly inspired by life people really respond to it in a positive way. Some of my art influences are Norman Rockwell, Walt Disney, Glen Keane, Peter De Seve — there’s so many!


BNP: If you could make breakfast with any celebrity, who would it be and why?
TAOS: Hmmm, I guess Zooey Deschanel. I like her quirkiness and I find her to be pretty funny. I feel like she would make me laugh a lot.

See more of the artist’s work on his Facebook page and personal website.

*Photo and atwork provided by interviewee

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  • Oona Sura is a cosplay enthusiast with an appreciation for Framboise Lambic, Haruki Murakami, and cats. Catch her at the next anime convention on the East Coast!

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