Documenting an artist’s progression

By Jared Whitlock.

I was once a frustrated business major at San Diego State University.

Ignoring dire warnings about the cutthroat industry that awaited me, I transferred into that same school’s journalism program. It was the best decision I’ve made yet.

I love reporting, whether digging through budgets, or on the opposite side of the spectrum, interviewing notable people to learn what makes them tick. Artist Santos Orellana falls into that latter category.

As a new member of his team, I’m going to write a few articles every month about his latest projects, which will appear in various publications.

First, a bit more about me: My work has appeared in a number of local publications, including San Diego Magazine and the San Diego Union Tribune. Currently, I’m the associate editor of the Encinitas Advocate, which is how I met Santos a year and a half ago.

I was slated to write an article about Santos, and not knowing much about him, I anticipated banging out a quick 450-word piece, a length comparable to my prior artist profiles.

But during the interview, I was intrigued by his artwork, as well as his personal story. His childhood in Honduras steeped in iconography, his devotion to a sport that ultimately opened up a door to higher education, his unlikely transition from scientist to artist, his style drawing from Mesoamerican influences — it was compelling stuff. The article was more than 900 words, halfway to a novel by journalism standards.

But his story is still largely unwritten. Since I met him, Santos has converted a warehouse into a factory that Andy Warhol would envy, and he is now close to completing his debut documentary: Catracholandia – The Movie, which follows him as he paints murals for orphanages in Honduras.

Needless to say, I’m excited to document his continued evolution.






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