Name, Location
Jon Santos (age undecided), NYC

Graphic Designer

Iheart, The Rapture, Arkitip, xlr8r, Analog, Chapelle 's Show/Comedy Central

View Jon's work and self portrait, his favourite items and favourite location in New York City.


Interview. Jon Santos  


New York City has that strange way of connecting you to everyone else. You could call it the "Friendster" effect, but maybe it's simply six degrees of separation. We met Jon Santos about a year ago in this fantastical city. He was a friend of one friend, then, wait, friend of another friend, and another. So, naturally, when he let us know that he was working on an exhibit at one of our favourite shops, Iheart, well, we knew something good was about to happen.

In the current exhibition, called "Dymaxion Cast Shadow", the artwork presents the idea that there is an underside to utopian philosophy. As he writes in his artist's statement, "Every time we project optimism for the future, there is the strong possibility for failure. In my own life, I once idealized 'the future' as some light at the end of the tunnel, but I increasingly find that this conception has no place in my own daily life." Here, he lets us know more about the evolution of his work and if this possibility of failure is such a bad thing after all.


How did you end up on
One night a fellow by the name of Ben Dietz was mumbling something about “Being Hunted Dot Com” and the name stuck with me so I decided to check it out.

What were you hunting for?
I was wandering when I found you. When I go hunting, I usually look for vintage text books and old school Chicago traxxx records. I like to dig through the old phonographs. New wave, disco, rock, sound effects, noise, novelty, etc.

What are your favourite hunting areas in New York City?
The west side Canal Street has some pretty good junk and plastic stuff. Academy Records in Williamsburg is a life saver.

-or any other place?
In Berkeley, CA the “Center for Creative Reuse” which stocks surplus teaching aids and arts and craft materials, like oversized paper, old topographic maps and text books.


Where are you from and how (and why) did you end up in New York City?
I grew up in Metro Detroit where I really got into the music scene after a year of Pre-Pharmacy school. I lost interest in school and took up DJ’ing and promoting parties with my girlfriend at the time. We moved to San Francisco in the mid-nineties with an interest in getting involved with the underground music scene and an emerging, ill-defined “media arts” world. I studied design but I waived all of the computer classes so I enrolled in all of the screen-printing classes and used the studio to produce posters for our “underground / low rent” nightclubs and shows. I’ve always thought it would be fun to experience those things in the big city. I wanted to move to a bigger city than San Francisco and Los Angeles seemed like too much of a lifestyle leap and I was really missing that old wind chill, so I thought NY would be a nice fit.

What is your field of "professional activity" and how did you get to do what you're doing?
I discovered graphic design/art by way of the Designer’s Republic and electronic music. I really loved to look at record sleeves, skateboards, and t-shirts. I wanted to be a “graphic designer” because back then it was more of an art form and it didn’t seem like work. I was designing record sleeves for my friends and posters for shows that we were performing at. There wasn’t much of a separation between the “client” and the “designer”. It’s through a bigger interest in music that I got into design. I can “work” but the subject involved something that I cared a lot about.

What is your ratio between client work/daytime job and personal work/spare time?
I spend the whole day working at my day job and nights and weekends on my personal work.

How would you describe your personal style?
Quirky, Somewhat Familiar and a little bit Modern.

Are there certain colors and/or shapes that you are drawn to?
I’ve been overwhelmed by the number 3 as represented by the triangle. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of my sleep and look at the clock and it’s 3:33. My birthday ends with the number 3 and I am the youngest of 3 siblings. I live in the 3rd dimension and I really like the song “Three is the Magic Number” by Bob Dorough. 93 ‘til infinity!


How did your current exhibit come about?
I worked a lot with Jill and Toni on the branding for Iheart and so I thought it would be good to show stuff in their space since it’s seems closest to “home” for me in terms of a public art and design space. They were really into the idea.

Tell us more about the name, "Dymaxion Cast Shadow".
Bucky Fuller created the word “Dymaxion” which is short for “Dynamic Maximum Tension”. I was drawn to that word mostly because it really sounds like an optimistic past reference to the future. A cast shadow is caused by a spotlight and so there is kind of an angle that shows depth and perspective. If you can imagine optimism as a light that shines at the end of a tunnel some things are really blocking the way these days. I think we are standing in the cast shadow caused by the “dymaxion” dreams of yesteryear.

How has failure shaped your life?
In it’s simplest form, the method of “trial and error” often yields failure and it’s the trial and the error that’s shaped my life more than it’s occasional bi-product of failure itself. Many times I would create something just to see if it would work and in most cases I wouldn’t take the time to correct it because I thought that it existed in a state that was beautiful. I learned how to work with accidents because they lead to better and unexpected places.

Do you think all idealism eventually ends in failure?
No, I don’t think “all idealism” ends in failure. Idealism got us to where we are today with regard to convenience and so many other things. It's this "better tomorrow" theme that I like to work with. Idealism is a positive way to stay on track but it hasn't brought anything to light recently. The War doesn't really paint any pictures of a better tomorrow for anyone. Maybe why I find so much inspiration in the past and how people used to think about a better tomorrow. Regarding perfection, these days it’s easier to achieve perfection with computers and that makes for a really boring world. Perfection is becoming easier to obtain. For example, I’m typing this up right now and the program keeps correcting my vocabulary and grammar. Sometimes idealism achieves its goal but i don't learn much from that when it happens.

What are your future plans?
Stay Awake. Vacation with Kazumi. Make Noise. Visit the Hudson Street Skatepark on the West Side Highway. Read Lester Bangs. Visit Anton in Lugano. Ride Bike to Cloisters. Buy the Bike first.

How do you see your personal style evolving?
Not sure that I can answer that because I like to play things by ear. I would like to do more work with more intense color palettes and more intricate detail. Things are starting to seem more and more painterly. Not Sure.

Where do you mainly get your inspiration from?
Music and Experimentalism(s). From this past year to now I’ve really been into this band the Animal Collective and some of their solo projects (Avey Tear and Panda Bear). Sometimes they repeat sounds and noises with their mouths like they are chanting. It’s become more interesting to hear people experiment with their vocal chords and word-sounds. It’s also pretty interesting when people affect and or invent the language that they speak. I remember hearing a Meredith Monk song a few years back that was composed only with different sounds she was making with her voice. She wasn’t singing words, and she wasn’t beat boxing but she was definitely using her voice more like a musical instrument without verbalizing anything. When I see how people experiment with their own process and form in other mediums it just gets me excited to create.

What movement inspires you the most?
The undefinable ones with no name at the moment or the ones that you can name only 10 years from now.


What are your next projects (that you can tell us about)?
I want to make a newspaper arts journal. A sort of newsprint zine. I’ve also been thinking of some short video pieces. I want to drop a video camera through at least 6 layers of sheet glass, several times and edit the footage together. I plan to also make some soundtrack music for some of Ken Miller’s short films.

Any shouts?
THANK YOU: Wyeth Hansen, David Mashburn, Ryan Waller and all of the kind people of RAD MOUNTAIN (where all of the screen printed work was produced), Jill and Toni Iheart, Ken Miller, Gordon Hull, Rob Auten, Kazumi Asamura, Emi Takahara, Taeko Baba, Jean Kuo, Brand New School and of course Gail and Joerg BGHD for the interest in covering the show and work.

Who should we interview next?

"Dymaxion Cast Shadow" is on view from the 20th January 2005 to the 13th February 2005 at Iheart, 262 Mott Street, NYC (store hours M-S 12-8, Sun 12-7)

The opening reception on the 20th from 7 to 10 will include a performance by Ciao (Surface to Air) with music provided by Jeremy Campbell and Markus Miller. An afterparty will continue the affair at APT, hosted by Negroclash. RSVP to: Jon Santos RSVP

GA, January 2005

Beinghunted thanks Jon for the interview and looks forward to seeing more great work!

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