Interview with Angela Santana

Angela Santana is a Swiss artist and art director living and working in New York City. Foremost a professional artist, Santana creates large-scale oil paintings based on the vast amount of illicit imagery online, combining digital painting techniques with classical oil painting.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?  

My name is Angela Santana, I'm a Swiss-born New York based artist.  

Where did you grow up?  

In Switzerland, close to Zurich  

Why and when did you move to New York?  

For more than ten years, I had close ties to New York. Be it friends, fun, work, travel or inspiration. Two years ago, my partner got offered a job here and we decided to take the adventure.  

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in Art and Design?  

I'm fascinated by language and art is my favourite one to communicate in.  

How would you describe your creative process?  

I’m questioning the mass of anonymous, illicit images online, which poignantly mirror the demand and fast consumption in society today. The full compositions are painted digitally in hundreds of layers, radically reinventing these found images. They are then further processed manually: painted on large canvases in oil. The large size bears a further conceptual thought, as the once anonymous and objectified women are now shifted and empowered - the object has become the subject. Bold and fierce in scale, they demand attention.  

Does your city and surroundings influence you as a creative and individual?  

Yes, everything I encounter and experience is an influence. The time we are living in is shaping us too, very much so in the digital age anyway.  

What do you struggle with the most in terms of working and living in a city like New York?  

A cacophony of constant noise and sirens.

The responsibility of the council in every city is to provide a solid foundation of design, art and cultural facilities, is that evident in New York?


Do you think it is also the responsibility of the designer/creative to improve the quality of peoples lives in their city?

I believe every human being has a responsibility to do so, and it starts with each interaction: from neighbours to strangers in the subway.  

Can you tell us about any current or future projects that you are particularly excited about?  

The painting series is an ongoing project that I am excited to work on every day. There are no boundaries and I can explore the human condition and form. Every brushstroke opens up another possibility.  On a conceptual level, it questions our behaviour online, how we consume imagery at an accelerated speed, and how the mass of objectified content has helped shape and distort the perception of women in our collective consciousness. As an artist, I am an observer of society. Shifting those found images from object to subject is a very empowering message. Furthermore, I love the strength and permanence of the medium oil painting, it couldn't be more antagonistic to a fleeting digital thumbnail.  

What is the one thing you can’t live without in New York?  


If you could add or change something about New York, what would that be?

I'd change a thing or two in Washington instead.  

Describe the perfect day for you in New York.

That would definitively be with my partner and involve our favourite coffee place, strolls, records, gigs, Italian food, friends and family. Saturday’s I also like to go to galleries in China Town and lunch somewhere around there.  

If you could choose any artist/creative from New York to collaborate with, who would that be and why?  

There's so much action, talent and history in this city, it’s almost overwhelming to think of just one name.  New York’s female painters, in particular, created a legacy that I am in awe of, such as Cecily Brown, Joan Semmel and Georgia O’Keeffe. 

What do you do to switch off?

Read, travel and listening to records.  

Sometimes people relate a specific smell to the city they live in or the place they grew up, does New York evoke a personal smell to you?

Magnolia and Rosemary thanks to our rooftop. Other than that, an equal measure of hotdog, coffee, bleach cleaning liquid and traffic.  

What is your favourite time of the day?

The Nights.  

If you weren’t living in New York and could choose any city to live in where would that be, and why?

I’ve lived and worked in so many cities! Zurich, Paris, Hamburg, London and New York. I love London and NYC for the multiculturalism.

new york by angela  santana

A selection of places in New York - recommended by artist  Angela Santana. See all of Angela's favourite places here

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