Emilio Santoyo is a Michaelangelo from the Inland Empire, virtually chiseling something out of nothing on the regular. Often getting the sense that something was missing from his everyday snapshots, he recently started breathing life into them, revealing the saucy characters who belong there. This new Faux Real series is only a tidbit of Emilio’s illustrative breadth. Major snack brands can be found in his lunchbox of clients, and his endeavors are a smorgasbord of animation, design, analog art, and hot dog pals.
Kristin Farr: Where are you from and how did you get here?
Emilio Santoyo: Born in Mexico City, raised east of LA in California. I grew up with a good mix of ravers and hip hop heads, which meant we went to a lot of parties and shows. On our way to a show in LA, a friend wanted to check out an art school. He was my ride, so I said, “Sure, why not?” I learned that people were making a living doing what I was doing for fun. That school tour was the pivotal point, plus a few art shows, art school, a few parties, and a lot of misadventures with friends— now we here!
You make these weird IG albums that I live for. Give the people an example.
Oh, the carousel feature on Instagram. Love that thing. Having an iPhone, you are able to take a lot of very dumb photos, and those photos need homes. When I post something, I like to curate a nice scroll for everyone, like putting together a small photo zine. It’s not a photo dump because I think about it. Generally, they are related to the illustration post in one way or another.
So, one post is this super chill girl hanging out on the hood of a car on her phone. The phone has a Tweety Bird phone case, like all great phones do. Next is a detail shot, which, you know, cool, we need to see the tiny sunglasses even closer. Then you get to the last photo, a Flamin’ Hot Dorito being dipped into Taco Bell nacho cheese. Pause.... I thought the color palette of the Dorito and cheese matched well with the skin tone of the girl and Tweety Bird. They look good together and both are hot. Hot 95!
Tell me more about your relationship to food; it shows up often.
Food is always a good co-star for any photograph, illustration, or movie scene. Incorporating food into my work as the main subject, or chillin’ in the back, came from observing real-life photographs I would take. Food was always there, like a person photobombing all your vacation photos.
Food in art sets the mood of what’s happening… are they drinking champagne or just sipping a tall boy in the back of a pick-up? Food adds to the story and adds character to the people in the scene.
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