ARTIST SPOTLIGHT | Interview with Alyssa Alarcón Santo, Issue #7 Spot Illustrator

Self portrait by Alyssa Alarcón Santo

Self portrait by Alyssa Alarcón Santo

Alyssa Alarcón Santo is a full-time illustrator based out of Portland, OR, where she lives with her writer husband. Her love of meticulous hand lettering, cynical philosophy, and all things literary are common threads in her artwork. To pay the bills, she can be found creating commercial illustration work for clients like National Novel Writing Month and Xbox. She also writes an ongoing series of memoir comics, Traitor Legs, about her journey through newfound disability.

While Alyssa most frequently works digitally with a combination of a Wacom Cintiq and an iPad Pro, she also dabbles with traditional media—usually Copic markers, Posca paint pens, or acrylic ink and dip pens. She loves to draw subjects that are detailed, structural, and, dare I say it, even a little tedious. (We all need our Jerry Gergich.)

Her work can be found at or on Instagram  at @alyssasantodesign.


PLANET SCUMM: What current or recent projects are you excited about? 
I've been working on a series of hand-lettered book stack paintings for the last year or so. The project has everything I love: copious amounts of research, meticulous serif lettering, and many, many reading lists. I've already done stacks for several fiction genres. This is pretty boring, but I'm pumped about some of the non-fiction stacks I have planned. I can't paint photorealistically, but I get so much joy from being able to closely recreate a physical object in my own style. I'm also working on a comic series with my husband. It's loosely based on my abuela (were she running her own minor crime empire).

PS: If you could design the movie poster for any movie, what would it be?
My all-time favorite book is House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. I know in my heart of hearts that an adaptation would be impossible to do correctly (and that anything they did make would just disappoint me). That being said, I would love to design a whole collection of posters for that elusive dream mini-series.
It would be pretty difficult to capture the dread and the horror of the book, but I imagine it would be fun to borrow some optical illusion pointers from Escher.

PS: In one sentence, describe your favorite artist without using their name.
Multi-disciplinary American artist from the early 1900s who is well-known for both architecture and glasswork. *

PS: In the inevitable war between robots and humans, what side will you take and why?
My legs are full of so much metal  after all the surgeries I've had, I think I'm on the robot side by default. No joke though, I am constantly saying that my ultimate fantasy for life is to upload my mind into a robot body. I'd love to ditch this meat prison in which I live and move forward harder, better, faster, stronger.

The following illustrations are all single line drawings, meaning that you can trace the line from start to finish - much like a maze!