Santos finds solace in Carlsbad warehouse

By Jared Whitlock

A 12,000-square foot warehouse might seem like a lot of space for one artist. Santos Orellana, however, thinks big.

Paintings, custom furniture, sculptures, murals, apparel and more cover his Carlsbad warehouse. The ambitious space has its roots in humbling beginnings.

In 2007, Santos got his start as an artist at the Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park, sharing a 300-square-foot studio. As his career progressed, he graduated to larger spots over the years.  When Santos moved into the warehouse a few years ago, he finally had a place to accommodate ideas that are epic in size and scope.

Yet the warehouse is about more than exhibiting works. It also has an attached studio, complete with paint cans, wooden frames and brushes that are strewn about. This spot is a lot quieter than his previous space on Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia, where pedestrians and bicyclists often popped in while Santos was working. The solace suits Santos just fine.

“A lot of the time, I’m left alone here to create,” Santos said while in the comfort of his warehouse. “Eight hours will slip by when I’m in this creative place, and that’s sacred to me.”

Another feature is the woodshop, which allows him to customize frames, furniture and more. With everything he needs in one place, Santos can carry out new ideas at the drop of a hat.

Many artists dream of having a warehouse, and Santos isn’t taking it for granted.

“Most days I’m using every square foot of this place.”

The warehouse features all the collections from over the years, showing his evolution. Given that his work is largely biographical, a closer look reveals glimpses from Santos’s past: his childhood in the country of Honduras, a teenage immigrant struggling to fit in a foreign country, the story of how a chemist found his artistic voice and all the social commentary that comes with such experiences.

“For better or for worse, everything in here is a reflection of me.”

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