© Melissa Santamaría
“All it took for Melissa Santamaría to fall in love with digital art was a visit to a Depeche Mode concert.”
– Ayla Angelos, Its Nice That
At the beginning of this year, I discovered Melissa Santamaría by chance at an art book fair – Index – in Mexico City. In fact, her prints were the first thing to catch my eye, which is not surprising given their psychedelic textures and colors.
Despite initially dedicating her studies to Architecture, Melissa is a Mexican visual artist and creative director who chose to diverge from that path and concentrate on her genuine passion from the outset: the digital realm. She brings songs to life through her psychedelic visuals for musicians, envisioning the colors embedded in the music and translating them into dynamic artworks. Her portfolio boasts collaborations with renowned artists like Flying Lotus, Nubya Garcia, Hiatus Kaiyote, and others.
As luck would have it, she agreed to be my first cover artist of 2024, which was very important to me as it sets the psychedelic tone for the year ahead. Looking through her work inspires and excites me, as well as brings me back to certain visions I have experienced in the past. Funnily enough, Melissa has never experimented with psychedelics, which was curious to me but made her artistic talent even more fascinating, as she showcased a natural, in-built connection to the psychedelic aesthetic.
Below, you can read our interview and discover more of her creations. All pictures are works by Melissa Santamaría. Be prepared to go on a trip …
Can you tell me about your journey as an artist?
I studied architecture but felt disconnected from it. I finished my career and started watching touchdesigner tutorials and uploading an exercise I did in that software every day. Then, Sufjan Stevens asked me to do a project with him, which was awesome. After that, I started committing to exploring different techniques, which worked out. I create depending on my feelings every day.
How did you start your creative process?
Just by following my intuition! I think that as we grow older, that part starts to shut down, and we tend to justify whatever we are feeling instead of actually acknowledging the emotion or trusting our gut. So, my creative process always starts by following my intuition.
What is the most meaningful project you have ever done?
Andy Stott’s visuals for MUTEK MX were special because I’ve always been a big fan of his music, and since I was young, I have thought about making visuals for him, and it happened!
What role that music play in your life?
Music has always been a massive part of my life and my love for it started from a really young age. My mom would play The Carpenters, Depeche Mode, and Bob Marley. Then, while I was in college, I had a radio show for five years. I was a radio programmer at ibero 90.9 and did lots of interviews with amazing artists. I think that also helped my career now because I met amazing people along the way, and now they know my art, and we can collaborate.
Your art has a lot of psychedelic visuals. Are you intentionally creating a psychedelic feel in your art?
I’m not; it’s funny because lots of people think I take lots of acids, but no, I like multiple color layers with aquatic textures, and I think that’s also a way of seeing things when you’re using psychedelics.
If you could choose to exist as one plant, which one would it be?
I would be sage because they are amazing energetic cleansers.