Carina R. Santos

I am an artist, designer, and writer with a penchant for yarn, mountains, and bad T.V.


︎ Art
︎ Design
︎ Writing (wip)

“The Art of Getting Lost and Found”
Commission — HOODWINK / homme et femme

There is a softness to masculine style that is often underrated. In Carina Santos’s first large-scale installation and window display for menswear store Hoodwink, that softness is reinforced.

Exhibiting at Hoodwink’s storefront-cum-gallery space, “The Art of Getting Lost and Found” is a deconstructed landscape that incorporates elements Santos often wields in her art—found objects, photography, and embroidery. The artist’s penchant for nostalgia is certainly palpable.

Santos chucked her blueprint for the installation and instead freely rearranged its parts as it all came together. She allowed the elements to fall organically in place.

“I really had to push myself to create something visually arresting,” says Santos, whose last exhibit for Silverlens Gallery unspooled art pieces that made use of playing cards and photos from vintage encyclopedias. “I would say the biggest challenge was collaborating with other people for the structures,”  she adds. “But it was good that I was given the freedom to do what I wanted to do.”

The Manila-based artist sits down with NOUS to talk inspiration gleaned from scrapbooking and how finding art leads to making art.

Documentation by Bianca Natola

A lot of your art involves found objects. Where do you usually get your material?
Book Sale. Now, it’s kind of hard, because Book Sale used to have a lot of these yearbooks. Before Wikipedia, they would collate all the events in a year, like 1975, and they would put all the stuff there. I really like finding pictures there, like archival stuff. Now, it’s kind of hard to find. They’re all medical books and textbooks. And the other stuff, twigs lang. Andiyan lang, kalat. (Laughs)

What sorts of things are you drawn to that inspires you to create art?

Images. When I was a kid, I didn’t know what to do, but I would just collect pictures and keep them. I started scrapbooking (Laughs)… and for the playing cards, I started doing that in 2006, ’cause I was more comfortable with small canvases… I would mail them to my online friends for Christmas. I really didn’t have any intention to do art at all.

What did you really want to do back then? I wanted to write, and in college I got into graphic design. I also got into art history. But I’m really most comfortable writing. It’s the one that comes naturally. I think it’s an exercise because I read a lot and wrote a lot as a kid. As for design, that’s what I’ve been doing regularly since college. I like design, but art releases pressure for me. I just kind of like doing stuff, like making what hopefully other people like, but if not, okay lang. (Laughs)

What is it about writing that you enjoy? I’m not used to expressing myself verbally. Ever since, I was more at ease with writing. I feel like if I talk to you or someone, I feel like I’m misrepresenting myself. I really had to push myself to talk normally. In my first interview, I really couldn’t answer the phone. I feel like there’s a disconnect between what I’m thinking and what I want to say. I feel like I’m clearer when I write.

Have you ever combined art and writing, like doing art reviews? For me, it really depends on the audience you want. There’s this art critic who purposely makes his reviews hard to read to filter out casual fans. Hindi ako yun. I don’t really like talking about it formally. I don’t like getting technical either. As an artist also, I think it’s dangerous to criticize something you’re part of, ’cause you’re making yourself open to the same critique. So if I do write art reviews, I make it quite personal, so there’s a point of comparison for other people.

Words by Marga Buenaventura for NOUS