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David Santiago Press

David Santiago in the News


Pirate Life Radio Interview

Craft Cans

Q & A with Artist David Santiago
Can Designer for Tractor Brewing

For years craft beer can designs have been moving forward, both technically and artistically. This year we've seen some outstanding examples of what happens when the artistic talents of a craft brewer combine with that of an artist to come up with can designs worthy of their beloved beer. One such example of this is Tractor Brewing Company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When we first saw the can designs from this small brewery we were totally blown away. The amount of detail in the can designs and just the sheer beauty of the finished product is quite impressive. We reached out to David Santiago, the artist behind the designs, to find out what it was like to put his art on a can. Cheers David! 

(CC) Tell us a little about yourself...

(DS) My Name is David Santiago. I am a 24-year-old native of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I spend the majority of my days doodling and trying to make cool things!

(CC) How did you end up teaming up with Tractor Brewing for the can designs on their first three releases?

(DS) Skye, the owner, and I first met when I hung my first ever art show at her brewery a few years back. We’ve stayed good friends since and she’s always been an amazing supporter of my artwork. When Tractor Brewing Co. decided they were going to switch over from bottles to cans, Skye reached out to me asking if I would be interested in helping with the design. I had no idea where we would even begin, but we got a dialogue going and a month or so later we had some labels!

About the design - "Being a dark beer, we wanted to work around a grayscale color palette that would be similar to a milk label. This beer can features a hipster, Ray Ban-wearing girl, rocking a milk mustache.”
(CC) These were the first beer cans you've designed correct? What were some of the challenges of working with an aluminum can as a medium?

(DS) Correct! I really wanted to make the exterior of the cans as deliciously intoxicating as the beer that they were to encase. That being said, converting the original artwork that was drawn on birch wood, into a six-color vector image that would still have as much pop as the original full color artwork was definitely the most challenging part of the design process.

(CC) The designs really look incredible. What was your reaction when you first saw the finished product?

(DS) Thank you! I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped and a little drool came out! It was such a long process of creating and waiting, that it just made that first impression that much more special!

About the design - "Being a Red Ale, we knew our color scheme. It’s designed around a redheaded pigtailed farmer after a long day on the job with a shoulder tan to prove it. She ponders with a blade of straw in her mouth as the sun sets behind her.”

(CC) Where do you tend to draw your influences from? There is a very "human" theme with your can designs.

(DS) I am fascinated with the vocal silence that is body language. That is really the base of all of my personal artwork. Having faces on these cans gives them a personality all their own. They can make eye contact with you, and its almost hard not to be drawn to them when they are staring right back at you. 

"...Having faces on these cans gives them a personality all their own. They can make eye contact with you, and its almost hard not to be drawn to them when they are staring right back at you."

(CC) Are you a bit surprised at the amount of craft brewer going with cans over bottles? New Mexico has some great options with Santa Fe, La Cumbre, Marble, and now Tractor. All have great can designs as well. Perhaps its something out there in the Land of Enchantment.

(DS) I am a little surprised, but I love it! I feel it gives our local beer scene an opportunity to include the community into their designs, provides a little healthy competition between breweries, and is another way Albuquerque is on the forefront of going green.  

About the design - "The colors and flowers are modeled after that of the old school Farmer’s Almanac covers. There are little hops sprouting all over this can and dangling from the ears of the Almanac Girl."
(CC) Do you have a favorite of the three designs you did? What about the beers themselves? Any favorites?

(DS) My personal favorite in both categories is the Almanac IPA. The idea was to work around the color palette and floral arrangements of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and create a busy, yet clean design.

KRQE News 13

 A local artist has brought back to life a man many say should not have been killed in the first place.

The killing of James Boyd sparked protests around Albuquerque. Now a painting of him has sold for big bucks to a man very close to that case.

“I just try to create something that stares back at you,” David Santiago said. “And something that you can just lock onto.”

Staring back is James Boyd. He’s the mentally-ill man who was shot and killed in the Albuquerque Foothills this past March by police after a long standoff.

“Everybody can recognize with him, he’s in the public eye right now,” Santiago. “Everybody can relate, you know, ‘Why did this have to happen to him.’ ”

David Santiago, the artist behind the portrait, spent a month and a half putting ideas together.

“And I jumped on board,” Santiago said. “I thought I could do something I love to do and maybe it’ll help someone else.”

This weekend the painting sold for $2,100 at an auction. That money will all go to Albuquerque Heading Home, a group dedicated to finding housing for those living on the streets.

“The piece of art is about healing, the charity is about healing so we want to support that,” Joe Kennedy said.

Kennedy is the attorney for the Boyd family. He’s also the man with the winning bid.

Kennedy says the painting is a reminder that we’re all closer than we think.

“It’s a connectedness that we sometimes lose and sometimes forget especially when people are homeless,” Kennedy said.

Both Kennedy and Santiago hope it has a lasting impact.

“I’m more than happy that I can contribute and I know that the money is going to go to a great cause,” Santiago said.

Kennedy is working with the Boyd family in their civil lawsuit against Albuquerque Police. He says just because the officers were in fear does not give them a free pass in this case.

In addition to the painting, prints of the portrait are also available. Sales from those will also go towards Albuquerque Heading Home, as well.