Born in Bogota Colombia, Santiago Cubillos is an artist self-taught until a decade ago when he started studies of Art history at Hunter College New York and decided to follow his eternal passion for drawing and painting. Although the artist started his professional life as a journalist, his inclination for creating art and its appreciation was stronger.
In 2004 started to study Art history with a minor in Studio art, which lead to the beginning of the Art school and the exploration of different media such as sculpture, ceramics, photography, but in the end, Painting and Drawing were his true call.
The artist chooses a pseudonym of Chago that is the short name for Santiago, his recent work has been showing in NYC at galleries in Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, and Brooklyn. He lives in New York.
Are you currently exploring your art career full or part-time? If full time, what did you leave behind to pursue your art career? If part-time, what do you do in your day job?
Chago: Through the pandemic time I was working full time in my art, organizing projects, ideas, techniques, and looking for inspiration on
a daily basis Social Media, Virtual Art exhibitions, and Magazines. By March I already had been laid off, and my plan was to stay focusing and preparing for three or four months before coming back to a daytime job. Now everything has changed and my plans as well.
The idea from now on (summer 2020) is to keep applying to different galleries, shows, and any competition contests to find sponsorship through a gallery or a Private collector, meanwhile going through the phases of reopening the city, I might get a daytime job as a sommelier (other big passion of mine -wine-), or other in hospitality.
How long have you been creating art? Was there a defining moment that you realized a creative life was the path for you?
Chago: As I can remember as a kid I always had a pencil in my hand ready for drawing, probably since I was a toddler. My father was an Architect, and my mother comes from an artistic family that always support me in my path of creativity and stimulated me to keep going in the path of the arts until I was a teenager ready to go to college. But my first option was Journalism and communication where I use to explore a little in design and started with illustration for University projects and for Children’s books.
As a result of my “popularity between my friends” I ended up doing murals and frescos for a restaurant. It was fun, but far from a way of living.
Once I graduate I got a “serious job” in an Oil company and even I apply some design into work, it barely left me time enough to create art.
Can you tell us a little about how you got to where you are now?
Chago: Only years later when I moved to live in New York City, I got the opportunity to come back to school and decided to start with Art History. In the second year I was taking drawing classes and within a semester switched to Fine Arts.
At the time I was working in a French Gallery-cafe, I exposed some of my work together with some of the clients of the restaurant and made some sales. But it was until 2018 when I was already exhibiting with galleries and participating in shows of art that felt the urgency to keep going with the pursue of art as an aim for my life.
What do you think makes one person artist and another not?
Chago: This was the moment when I realize that if you as a person can do something that is appreciated for others and can take you to a place of gratitude and happiness is your responsibility to follow it, and do something about it. I wanted to become an artist.
Here is when I knew I will become an artist, not only for the “call”, but mainly the feeling and perspective in my life from there, I was ready to assume difficulties and up and downs to an extreme that no other professions offer. Unfortunately, the artist’s life is unpredictable and at least at the beginning -for some- is always scarce throw the lack of sales and social support.
Do you think our society supports artists, and should it?
Chago: I’m in NYC where I can find lots of support, chances to apply for residencies, and many galleries that help new artists. The budget in this city for art is high and you can see it as you can find many galleries in the neighbors within the different boroughs. I can’t talk about other places or cities, but I don’t think it is equally good as it is here. Fortunately, nowadays your art is worldwide follow through Social Media which makes it easy to show something to everyone, and also to see something from everybody.
How would you describe your artwork, and where do you find your ideas?
Chago: My artwork is a combination of Renaissance themes, surrealistic portraits, and contemporary ideas. At least that’s what I think. Through the time and seasons my shows change as so does the topic; through the pandemic times -spring2020- most of my work was focus on pop art and some figure watercolors. My inspiration comes from Social Media, News, and Art History. Always find the way to put it all together, but it’s the process that is the hardest.
What challenges have you faced in your creative work?
Chago: The sketching time for me can last up to a month and that’s only talking of a particular piece, not the full show. The advantage I have is that I take lots of notes all the time for future and present projects.
What are you working currently and what do you have coming up in the future?
Chago: My next project hopefully ready by fall2020 is inspired in Inferno by Dante. As a result of the pandemic isolation, I decided to go back to a classic and Inferno was the chosen one. It’s a master of literature and opens my mind to many objects, color palette, subjects of preference, abstraction, surrealism anyway many options under one roof!
How can people follow your news?
Chago: For more art samples, commissions or to visit my future exhibitions you can find all the information on my Instagram: @chago212 or check my Facebook blog for information of what is happening around NYC AT: ChagoArt on Facebook, and email for commissions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding my true self can be done only by answering who I am, what I feel, what I do, and what I am committed to, I’m an artist in the process.