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Postcards from the Imagination: The Art of
Jerico Santander

By Matthew Porter

Jerico Santander is an artist and a peripatetic free spirit. “I’m single and detached,” says Jerico, who lives a nomadic life, dividing his time between a home in the Canary Islands, a small apartment on the Philippine island of Cebu, and frequent sojourns to more-remote Philippine islands such as Bohol, Malapascua, and Bantayan. It’s perhaps no wonder that his fantastical work is so transporting.  

Far-off locales liberate Jerico to think and create. Unreliable Internet connections do pose challenges, but even though he often complains about poor connectivity in remote places, he acknowledges that being unplugged gives him time for personal projects, sketching, and dreaming. If a client comes along, he races back to his Cebu apartment, where connectivity and electricity are reliable (and where he keeps a generator, “just in case”).

These images are from Jerico’s series Mush, an experimental project.

THE ARTIST’S INNER WORLD

Jerico grew up in Arrecife, a town on the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. He credits his mother with encouraging his artistic sensibilities, and a brother with sparking and encouraging his interest in computers. He spent his youth surrounded by water, beauty, nature, and farm animals. “We had lots of cats and dogs. We also had a little farm with goats, sheep, and chickens!” he says.

But although he has spent his life surrounded by the sea and bucolic vistas, Jerico says he doesn’t take much artistic inspiration from the natural world. Instead, he gets it from stuff he finds on the Internet, from people, art, movies, and music. His images can be dreamy, joyful, or dark—a grab bag of fantasy, sci-fi, animals, plants, found objects, and old technology. Think Rube Goldberg, not Paul Gauguin: ingenious collage fantasies.

These images are from Jerico’s series Atutiplen.  

Like a lot of digital artists, Jerico is many things: designer, composer, compositor, painter, sketcher, and techno-wizard: “When someone asks me what I do, I just hand them a card with my name and a link to my Behance page and say, ‘This!’” He continues, “I take photos, cut them out, and reassemble them. What you see is a digital, refined collage. I may add 3D elements, blend them with the photos, and then digitally paint them to lend illumination and realism. I then add layers of Photoshop ‘magic’ such as painting over with shadows and light to weld the visual elements together.”

Creating images with this much detail can be time-consuming. Jerico says, “I'm usually ‘done’ when the deadline arrives, but with personal projects, time isn’t a problem. I stop when the joy is gone. Or when things start getting excessively messy.”

 

DREAM! COLLECT! COMPOSE! BAM! DONE!

One could think of Jerico’s work as postcards from his extraordinary imagination—a distant place where vivid daydreams become brilliant images. It looks like a nice place to be! That’s one reason the Adobe Studio approached Jerico to create an image for an Adobe Photoshop CC promotion. Here’s how Jerico describes the project:

“Adobe creative director John Caponi told me to go wild but to create in the style of my Atutiplen series. I wanted to tell a funny little story, something different and creative.  So I started to think of random elements and began mixing them with things that didn’t relate at all: an apple, a bike, a rocket, a birdhouse, a piglet, and so on. I started sketching the elements. I first thought up the primary image, a shiny, colorful apple. I then added a bike to pull the apple. Bam! I saw it! A crazy, environmentally responsible caravan of a little boy riding a half-bike, wearing a piglet, and broadcasting the crow of a rooster! 

“Next, I added some other random elements to fill out the space, like shiny horns and trumpets. To lend an aerodynamic feel, I thought up the rear rocket thing. And the bubbles. Once the sketch idea was approved, I called upon a friend, photographer Jan Gonzalez, who deserves a lot of credit. Together, we found all the elements and started shooting in his studio. Next, I selected the best images and proceeded to retouch and weld them together on a Photoshop canvas. Then it was time to add my 3D elements, the half-bike, rear rocket, bubbles, horns, rooster, and so on. After that, more retouching, more painting here and there, experimenting with different backgrounds and different effects…and done!”

Click on the arrows to watch the image come together, layer by layer.

See more of Jerico’s work on his Behance page and portfolio site.