Artist's Dossier for October: Jen Santos


One of Gunship Revolution’s most promising greenhorns for 2016 – Jenine “Jen” Santos – is on the hot seat for this week’s Capitana’s Log! Let’s look into her background, her process and her career ambitions for the future.

So, when did you get into drawing?

I’ve been drawing since I was little. I can’t remember the exact age but I think I started with cartoons like the Powerpuff Girls and Tom and Jerry because I watched them almost regularly. It took off from there.

Jen likes cats. That should explain the cats.

Jen likes cats. That should explain the cats.

How about now? Who would you say are your main influences?

There are many artists that I admire a lot but I’d say my top three would be Alphonse Mucha, Alma Tadema, and John William Waterhouse. Their works make me weep and inspire me at the same time.

We know you went to school for an arts-related course. Would you say that’s something essential for up and coming artists?

4-year art related course? I think it depends on the person and the situation the person is in at the moment. I don’t think a formal 4-year art related course is as necessary these days as it was back when I started college. There are a lot of online resources right now that I think have better stuff to offer than the courses that were offered here.

Then again, my stay in college taught me a lot more than art – I wouldn’t trade those four years for anything else. It’s just my two cents. I still think it depends on what type of person you are, your current situation, and what type of environment you thrive on.

Speaking of environments, would you say the local industry is an environment to thrive on?

The local art industry is alive, in my opinion. There are a handful of art exhibits I wanted to go to (but never really got the chance.)

You have been largely invisible from the usual art scene. Is the anonymity something you maintain on purpose?

 Yes, I do. I consider myself a private person. I enjoy being backstage rather than under the spotlight. But being in the type of work I am now, too much anonymity can actually be a bad thing. That’s why I’m trying to come out of my cave and go as far as my anxiety would allow me to hahaha.

If there was a misconception non-artists usually have about art, what’s the one misconception you encounter the most?

The biggest one is probably that art is quick and easy. That within a few hours of clicking Photoshop, it’s ta-da! Art! It’s not. It’s a lot more than clicking around or splatting colors on a canvas. A lot of late nights for days and endless learning and research is involved behind that art. Years of keeping the desire to make art alive despite all the artworks – ranging from not-so-good to total crap – that has to be made. It’s something that most people overlook.

"I'd like to have a statue made like this but for my daughter. I can pay you back with a lot of exposure but I need it in four hours."

"I'd like to have a statue made like this but for my daughter. I can pay you back with a lot of exposure but I need it in four hours."

You mentioned endless learning and we also know that you’re a big fan of historical artwork, fashion and music. How would you say this interest might benefit professional artists?

I’m not sure if there are any yet hahaha. The type of art, fashion, and music that keep me ticking are a bit different from the projects I am currently working on.

With Gunship Revolution, yeah? How did you find out about us?

A good friend from my previous job recommended it to me. She encouraged me to apply.

How did you find the entrance exam? What did we make you do again?

It had something to do with an oracle, a chimera, and a half-hamster guy. It was the most challenging thing I did back then but I remember being excited and terrified while making it.

Having GR Co-founder Harvey Bunda as your Testmaster can be a surreal experience.

Having GR Co-founder Harvey Bunda as your Testmaster can be a surreal experience.

And how has freelancing with Gunship Revolution been different from working with a regular company?

Getting to manage your time. Being a freelancer cuts out all the long travel hours. Plus, you can decide what time you are most comfortable to work. Next to time is getting to save money.

Speaking of time, what’s a regular work day for you like?

My day usually starts with trying to get up early followed by morning chores. After that, I take my breakfast (I get to read a chapter or two from a book if I get up early enough.) I start working at around 9-10 am with cat-petting breaks in between.

Anything you’ve picked up from working with Gunship Revolution’s Art Directors?

A lot of things. Even before joining GR, I knew my skills were incredibly lacking. Working with an art director was something that I looked forward to. There’s always something that can be improved in an illustration.

Any career goals you’re working towards right now?

Right now, I just want to improve my skills. I’m trying to focus more on improving and taking a few steps at a time since obsessing about where I want to be in the future sends me into a horrible spiral of sadness.

Far Future Fashions.

Far Future Fashions.

But if a career achievement would give you the most personal satisfaction right now, what would it be?

As in right now? From the top of my head: getting the chance to work on the project that I am currently making samples for. But for a bigger career achievement, I’d want to get the chance to do illustrations for Magic the Gathering. That and getting to go back to traditional artwork.

And if you weren’t an artist, what would you think you’d be doing?

Oh, I don’t know. I wanted to do a lot of things but I never really took them as seriously as I did with art. Art was what I was sure I’d be good at so it’s the path I pursued.

Wrapping up: If you could give any advice to any artist interested in joining Gunship Revolution, what would it be and why?

First, prepare your portfolio properly. It took me months before I felt like I had at least half a chance of getting a test at least. Second, follow the instructions on how to join (I can’t stress enough how important that is as well hahaha.) Third, know that this ain’t an easy job. You have to take it as seriously as you would any corporate job. But of course, it’s more rewarding than a corporate job if the passion for art runs through your veins (and tears.)

And lastly, if you can pick any person to be your Spirit Animal, who would it be?

I’d go with my favorite documentary host and historian Lucy Worsley. I’m not sure if she counts as a spirit animal. I just really like her. I’m hoping a different version of me out there ended up with a job as cool as hers hahaha