Favorite among the Sightseers, 2016
Mark Jeffrey R. Santos aka Mister Sasquatch aka Mr S. is an artist based in Rizal, Philippines. We often found ourselves lost in the surreal utopian world of his paintings on instagram so we had to reach out to him to find out more about him, his world and Mister Sasquatch. Though his paintings may look like something conjured up on a computer screen, rest assured that they are anything but. The works are all beautifully hand painted in a variety of medium and vivid splashes of colour - journeying straight from the artist’s imagination onto the canvas. Find out more about the fantastical world of Mr S. in our interview below.
“I look for mistakes
when I’m working on a new piece.
Sometimes those mistakes
form a new technique.”
A short introduction of yourself.
My name is Mark Jeffrey R. Santos. My friends call me Jepoy. I’m an artist and a drummer in a band called Run Dorothy.
Your central character Mister Sasquatch - how did this originally come about?
When I was just starting, I was really into street art. One of the things I noticed about street artists is that they all have their own characters and aliases. So I made my own and came up with a sasquatch as my character. I haven’t seen or met any street artist that had a sasquatch as their signature character back then, so I thought it was really unique, for me at least. I didn’t want to think too much about the name so I just named him Mr. S.
How has Mister Sasquatch developed over time?
I guess I just can’t stick with one art style forever. The excitement fades when you do the same process for a couple of works. So I have to change the look every time while trying to retain some of the elements from my previous works. It’s also something that slows down my work flow, I am always trying to come up with new ideas.
“…the excitement fades when you do
the same process for a couple of works.
So I have to change…”
Is he a symbol or a representation of someone or something in real life?
He can be anyone. It depends on the story. Sometimes he’s just an idea that doesn't necessarily need to be understood. I really like that most of the people that see my work often tell me that they love my work because they feel something.
Your art is very surreal and the colours in your earlier pieces are bold and bright - do you have a specific routine when coming up with a piece? Do you have any weird habits when creating your art?
I’m not really big on rituals, I just do what I do. I look for mistakes when I’m working on a new piece. Sometimes those mistakes form a new technique.
I always listen to music when I work so I don't feel lonely. I would also dance to music while I’m working when I'm in the mood, as long as I’m sure that I’m alone.
On our own, 2017
What inspires you?
Mostly music, it really keeps me going. I find that there are lyrics or phrases that could be translated into a picture. Books are also a one of the stimulants of imagination for me. I’m not really a heavy reader, but I’ve read a couple of fictional books specifically the woks of Haruki Murakami.
You started as a street artist - how was this received in The Philippines, what is the street art scene like in The Philippines?
I can’t really tell because I don’t do it very often. But in my experience, I am grateful that I get to meet a really big community/family that is working hard to share their art publicly. Because of them, people are now more open and aware about art compared to before.
You seem to have a slight obsession, fondness for food especially Sushi and Ice Cream - does this stand for anything in particular?
Actually, no. I just really like them and I think it makes my work very distinct.
Your art is very fantastical, Mister Sasquatch living in this world, riding Sushi and has friends that are ice cream cones - how do you come up with this world? What in the real world influences these scenes?
It really depends on the story. Sometimes, I would see a picture in my head that gives me the urge to put it onto canvas. Some characters that I put in my work are inspired from other artists. Jeff Soto, Charlie Immer, etc...are some of the artists that made me a surrealist.
Can you share a couple of pieces that you are most proud of.
“Run Sundae Run”
This was the first large painting that I did. This is when I knew that I could be an artist. One of my girlfriends friends told me that he really loved it and he ended up buying it to support my journey as an artist. It currently hangs in his room.
“On our way to utopia”
This piece is actually a depiction of me and my girlfriend going on an adventure. I feel like everything is an adventure when I’m with her.
Mister Sasquatch seems to be a crazy wise man enjoying as much as he can in his crazy world - what part of him is a part of you?
I’m the calm/chill part of him.
“I kind of invented a world that can be
as crazy and trippy as I wanted it to be”
Mister Sasquatch seems to love smoking a pipe - is this what is transcending him into his crazy world? Is it a symbol for anything else?
To be completely honest, he was part of a phase. I was a stoner back then, and I kind of invented a world that can be as crazy and trippy as I wanted it to be. If you noticed my earlier works are very vibrant and colourful, it’s because it’s fun to look at it when you’re stoned. Until I realised that it wasn’t really for me. That good things really last.
Your latest work compared to your earlier work seems a lot more somber and darker. Your earlier work is bright and fun but your latest work uses colder colour palette and in a way the opposite of the opulence and celebration of food in your previous artwork, now it feels you are touching on the struggle of finding food - what happened in your life to make this shift?
It’s not really about the food and I’m not gasping for food. Hehe. I don’t really know. I guess maturity just got to me. The recent ideas just comes to me. I just want the piece to feel calm and steady.
Your more recent work seems to be more about solitude and your deep sleep series evokes a mind with too many thoughts - is this a reflection of your feelings of the specific moment in time you created the piece?
I think so. There are personal things that I really don’t want to talk about which I think really affected the outcome of my work.
How as an artist have you developed over the years?
I have really improved in terms of skill and technique no doubt. But the most important thing is that I have improved as a person.
Where would you want to take your art in the future?
I don’t really expect anything as long as I’m doing what I love
All images courtesy if the artist.