To you and myself, collage is simply the act of copying and pasting images together to create juxtaposing and sometimes comedic images. A simple activity learnt while at pre-school probably. So,how hard could it be? Nicolás Santos is a Paris based artist on another level. Merging fashion with the idea of collage as an art form, he creates dynamic pieces that capture the viewer’s imagination and push the boundaries. Nicolás took time to talk about his start in the industry, his fashion inspiration and his recent collaborative work with Kris van Assche.
This may sound like a cliché, but I inherited from my mother the interest in arts, especially in photography and painting, and I also studied Graphic Design at art school. So it's not exactly an "artist training", but I think it did help to establish a background. Above all I’m mostly an autodidact.
I actually never chose collage; it came as a natural way of expression, almost by mistake. I think collage has the power of creating different and multiple realities in one single image, and that is what I find most intriguing about it.
Desire and absence have always been my main subjects, my first pieces were made with vintage gay porn magazines, but this quest on desire began to drift slowly towards fashion imagery, so I started using almost any image I could find, old magazines, new magazines, books, vintage portraits. Anything printed on paper with a solid reference.
It all used to be based on appropriation, creating new images from old ones. Now I use collage as a medium, as well as creating the content by transforming new images.
More than simple I think it's instinctive, anyone can "use" the technique, but in my case I use it because I want to transmit something in particular, and visualizing that something, conceptualizing ideas, adapting them and creating a "path" is what takes most of the time. The process of collage itself -this is, transforming images- can take from a single morning if everything is clear, to a whole week if it involves several steps.
I'm actually very proud of the collaboration I did for Metal#25, with the campaigns of the season.
I had never thought about that, but I think I could agree. Expression is very important to me, and most of all, corporal expression. We limit our own bodies, and I like to think I try to push those limits in my work.
Totally. I can't say I was into fashion when I was young, but I belong to a generation whose visual references are mostly fashion references. I find de-constructing these references, isolating them and exposing them a very interesting process.
I don't want to name drop, so I’ll just name Jenny Holzer. The strength of her constrained messages is a constant influence.
As I said, my work is based on desire, and sex -gay sex specifically- was a natural starting point, but it was never intended to create an specific reaction because of the theme, so I think it's more indicative of society today -or at least of myself.
I do use digital media, but not as a concept itself -as in net art- but more as a technique. I'm very open to new media, and I do intend to experiment with anything I find interesting.
The biggest learning curve has been this last year: moving out of Spain has made me leave behind anything un-necessary and learn to focus on what I really want. As for the highlight of my career, I like to believe it's yet to come.
The Kris Van Assche team contacted me to work on the campaign, since the collection and my work had some common points: the layering, the cuts, and the whole "collage" effect. It was a really nice experience and I’m very happy of how my work and the brand's image merged. I tricked myself into thinking I had a lot of freedom.
A white cube gallery space makes anything look better, and a glossy fashion magazine reaches a wide audience, but my ideal mode of display is on someone's wall. Seeing how someone different from myself receives my work and gives it a new context gives me a reason to keep working.
Desire - obsession - absence - mistake – constraint, and I’ve named them all in the interview.