Content – From the Archives – Genevieve Santos

My Art Resources is excited to collaborate with Content Magazine to bring you a new monthly blog post Content – From the Archives. We will be looking back and featuring some of the best artist interviews and stories from past issues of Content Magazine.

Genevieve Santos

From Content Magazine
Issue 7.3 Style
Written by Kevin Biggers 

Photography by Mark Sebastian

Explore the art of Genevieve Santos, and what do you see? You may see a swelling of cuteness, the chubby cheeks of childhood limned fondly and funnily by her watercolors, her go-to medium. You may spot intimations of her animation background and fandom — pieces of Pixar and old-school Disney, as well as treasures from indie and foreign animators and illustrators. You may see the artist herself, the presence of a strong modern Filipino-American who can always find laughter in love and in family and in friendships.

But if you really talk to her and talk to her about her art, what you’ll discover is that, yes, all these things influence and consequently are present in her work but at the center of everything, the beating heart of her art is really her travels. With every painting and illustration, you can feel the sense of adventures had and adventures to be had. To experience her art is to encounter the unwavering suspicion that there will always be something awesome out there just waiting to be discovered.

So far, Genevieve has traveled extensively to and within 31 different countries. Now 31 years old, she did all of this traveling between the ages of 22 and 30. The extent to which she has canvassed the world tends to impress on its own, but once you realize she did most of this traveling while running her own business and growing her brand as an artist/illustrator, the eyes tend to bulge and the mind is bombarded by a flurry of the same question: How is she able to do this?

These days, she says, it’s a little easier to manage a busy travel schedule with running her business. When she’s out of the country, she still has 25 shops selling her artwork and stationery products, as well as a thriving online store run by a few people she has trained to handle orders and restock inventory when she’s not around. It’s true when she’s away she can’t do craft fairs or pop-up shops, but she has supplanted that lost income with her now absurdly popular Instagram sales. These Instagram sales see her sell original artwork, often directly influenced by the place she is currently traveling, to the first person to comment with their email address on the post featuring the artwork. “I started doing the sales on Instagram when I noticed people in my feed trying to get rid of excess inventory from the winter holidays in a similar fashion,” Genevieve recalls. “Also, a lot of people at the time had been asking for original art and I enjoy a good challenge of drawing on the fly.”

She’s sold every piece of art posted through these sales — 90 percent of the time within the first five seconds of posting the piece — with the prices ranging from $45 to $75 and with the total sales for a particular Instagram sale always able to at least cover the cost of airfare. “It’s really a matter of buying a plane ticket,” she says, explaining how she has been able to get to so many countries. “When I was just starting out with my business, I flew to Southeast Asia and once I got there, just scanned budget airlines for cheap tickets every day. That’s how I learned how to determine where to go.”

While her business grows and thrives, and with a children’s book in the works, traveling becomes more and more of an imperative. However, it’s no longer just a way to see the world and have new adventures while making enough art to cover the cost, but rather, for her, it’s an essential way to preserve life balance.

“I leave the country to fully and physically remove myself from my business,” she says, adding how difficult it is when she’s stateside to extricate herself from the day to day work of operating the business and to stave off new business-growing opportunities. “It allows me to get back to why I started the business in the first place,” she says, “which is drawing. It’s not until I get that undeniable feeling to do things with my business that I return home.”

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