Our latest colectivo futurist focuses on the vintage-looking, space-age works of colombian born Santiago Merino. Now residing in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago has been busy studying and researching various strings of graphic design and has managed, in our opinion, to develop a singular style for creating effectively mysterious and eye-catching pieces mostly focusing on the collage artform. With a clear passion for music in general, but with a particular interest for all things electronic (he’s also an avid techno DJ & producer) Santiago has been involved in designing various artworks for several electronic music labels. We are truly delighted to share the works and words of a truly creative individual, and one that ticks all the right boxes on what makes the perfect colectivo futurist in our eyes.
Santiago Merino (graphic designer, Buenos Aires via Medellin)
* tell us a bit about your background in graphic design and art. how did it all begin?
It may sound a bit cliche, but I’m certain my interest comes from when I was a child. At that time I felt a strong admiration for the different animal and plant sheets I was cutting for different school activities. It’s also been of great influence the fact that my mother always painted; whether it was over wood, ceramic, or canvas. She would also make personal cards and event invites. I also recall my brother had a big cassette collection and while he used to re-draw the bands’ logos with a marker, I would feel attracted by the CD booklets and their images. I’ve always been a big fan of booklets. Surely, all of these factors have been of great influence perhaps unconsciously and now I can realize their consequences.
I began studying graphic design in Medellin, but I didn’t last long. I got bored with the classes and what I was being taught during my first year. I didn’t feel comfortable and it wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing. I kept studying on my own for roughly two more years and then I moved to Buenos Aires. That year I completed a couple of courses and began working freelance. Then I enrolled in an editorial graphic design course, which I hope to finish this year.
* most of your pieces are based around collages. what can you tell us about that specific way of expressing your ideas?
What I like most about collages is that they allow you to create a new meaning for symbols, a new organization of elements, and ultimately a new perspective. It’s a whole new world; an oneiric universe where everything is possible.
Many of my collages are created from a digital starting point using Photoshop or Illustrator, with the use of different images I found around the internet and others that I scan at home. Even though I enjoy making collages both digitally and manually, there’s certainly nothing like picking up a stack of old magazines and start digging for images.
This allows me to get a real feel for the characteristic smell of old paper, its texture, and the ink used in each page. This is definitely one of my favorite experiences when working on traditional collages.
* your work is clearly very closely tied to music, specifically techno. how important would you say the relationship between graphic arts and music is?
Music and visual arts are two of my biggest passions in life. The best part of my line of work is that it allows me to have the opportunity to bring them closer together. And while Techno is certainly present in my works, I hope it’s not the only genre that permeates from my pieces. I rarely listen to Techno when working on my personal projects; I’m usually found rotating between different genres and artists from Vivaldi to Metallica, Bill Withers to Wu-Tang Clan, or Deaf Center to Charles Mingus. In contrast, when I’m working on a project for a specific client, such as an electronic music label, then I focus on capturing what I hear as an image.
I feel the relation between music and graphic arts is particularly strong. Even though we’re all familiar with the saying: “don’t judge a book by its cover”, we are also conscious about the fact that “everything enters through the eyes”. It’s like a crossroads that needs the right balance. Loads of bands have become rather well known specifically due to their visual image, such as Kiss. To our good fortune we can still find several labels and artists that are quite interested in investing on the visual aesthetic of their record.
* if you could soundtrack your work, what would you choose?
Uff… this is a good question, but at the same time a complicated one. As I mentioned before I listen to countless bands and artists. To name a few: Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, John Frusciante, Deaf Center, Barn Owl, Johnny Flynn, Mogwai, Monolake, Svarte Greiner, King Tubby, and Mad Professor are a few that will never leave my playlists.
* what is your favorite thing about living in Buenos Aires?
Buenos Aires is such a cosmopolitan city. Its museums, libraries, concerts, parks, and open air events are just a few of the things that I like the most. Also, going around the city center in search of old magazines, going to eat a ‘choripan’ at La Costanera, have a pizza while standing at Güerrín, or simply going to a friends house and play some music.
* what are your plans for the future? are there any projects you are currently working on that you could share with us?
A free wallpaper I did for The Fox is Black just came out. I’m also constantly working on the graphic image of labels like Woods N Bass, Par Recordings, Aula Magna, Inside/Outside, and soon I’ll start an interesting project with CRS Recordings. A project which I’ve done alongside my girlfriend Juliana Cuervo featuring the physical cover for the next CD release by Monofónicos should also be out very soon.