Peter Santa-Maria Brings Pop Culture to Life with Incredible Linocut Artwork

Artist Peter Santa-Maria, creator of the upcoming hand-crafted Spider-Man Linocut on Lokta Paper, has given us a behind the scenes look at how he creates his stunning pop culture linocut designs, where he draws his artistic inspiration from, and more…

Tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic background.

I am a Cuban-American artist and teacher in Miami, FL. I grew up in Miami as a huge fan of film and comics and like most kids I always found myself drawing the Ninja Turtles, dinosaurs, Ghostbusters, Batman, and Spider-Man. I never had any formal artistic training until college so most of what I learned came from poorly copying my favorite monster comics.

I didn’t realize at the time how much I didn’t know. When I found myself in a drawing class, I didn’t understand why I had to learn concepts that seemed so abstract and separate from what I wanted to achieve, so I was frustrated by my own ignorance.

Currently, I teach drawing and printmaking to beginners and often explain how basic concepts apply to artwork they see in animation, film, and comics so they understand the value of starting at the beginning. I also work on my art alongside them, so they see how I incorporate the concepts I am teaching.

What drew you to this form of printmaking?

Process. I get to draw, carve, ink, and print so it’s hard not to feel excited because things are always in flux. Each stage is meditative as well, so I find a lot of peace in this medium.

You blend a lot of pop culture into your printmaking- do you have any favorite franchises or characters to take on in your style?

Hellboy! Hellboy and Mike Mignola’s artwork was the most inspirational thing for me when I decided to pursue this seriously. It made me realize how important it was to be recognized by the way in which you draw and design things. I was a collector of all of his runs in comics and tried to find his work on obscure titles just to see how his approach to abstraction developed over time.

In terms of content, I love designing monsters! Godzilla, Gamera, etc. Especially anything with scales, wrinkles, fur, and feathers. They make for great high contrast patterns which showcase best the aesthetic of relief printmaking.

How do you go about beginning a hand-crafted linocut design?

I start with a really small and gestural pen drawing on any piece of scrap paper. I’m not great at journaling my sketches in a sketch book. I try to focus on composition early on, and that can be done small.

Then, I begin to research reference material and look for anything that can be interpreted as pattern with high contrast shapes and lines representing more character specific details. Then I just start sketching with a dark pencil on a sheet of linoleum. When I see the structure of the drawing, I switch to the fattest sharpie I can find and begin to block in areas of black. Then I spray the surface with a thin layer of black spray paint which allows me to see more easily where I have and haven’t carved once I begin to do so.

Next, I draw any small detail in white colored pencil. This usually includes any facial features or tiny specific items etc. After that, I begin to carve away negative space, roll ink on the carving and press paper onto the inked surface.

That’s all! Pretty straightforward right?

What are the specific challenges of this style of printmaking?

You have to really know what you plan to create before you start to carve. There really is no erasing, so if there are any errors like a blade that slips and carves a bit too much, you have to get creative and redesign on the fly. That doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes I might slip and puncture a fingertip or carve some knuckle!

Anything else you’d like to share?

I am really excited to share this medium and process with the world and so thankful that Sideshow has decided to partner on this release with me!

I have been meeting people all over the world online and in person who decide to try the medium for themselves after seeing it in person. They are having a blast and realizing the barrier to entry is virtually nonexistent. That is easily the most rewarding part.

Big thanks to Peter Santa-Maria for giving us some insight into how these visually distinct prints get made!

Fans can bring home this hand-crafted Marvel fine artwork when pre-orders begin for both the Spider-Man Linocut on Lokta Paper (ES 100) and the variant Framed Print on Wood (ES 200) on Friday, May 10th.  Don’t miss out on your chance to add this unique Spider-Man collectible to your Marvel art collection!

Peter Santa-Maria is a Miami-based artist and teacher. Working primarily in the process of printmaking, his artwork spans from original designs to pop culture icons. He is heavily influenced by traditional imagery from Thailand, American traditional tattoo flash, and his peers.