PROFILES : Get a glimpse into the minds of artists on the block. On TheseStreet's "Profiles" - artists from all aspects of life are sharing a little more than just their talent. In this series you can get to know more on who the artist is. You will learn how they got started on practicing their art, and understand what fuels them to create.
Hello, My name is Vince DeSantiago. I was born and raised on the Northside of Chicago in a neighborhood called Roscoe Village.
Growing up in my neighborhood was a bit tough. I was really the only kid in my neighborhood. At the time, the neighborhood was just starting to gain traction in the city, so there was a lot of time spent by myself trying to figure out how to stay entertained. There were some kids that lived next door to me for about five years. But once we turned 10 or so, they moved to the suburbs. My household was mostly good. Luckily, my parents were very supportive in any artistic endeavor I wanted to pursue. My dad represented photographers around the city in the 70's and 80's so photography was something that was a constant in our household.
I've really been into photography my whole life. There's a photo that my parents like to show of me in a diaper when I was about two years old, holding a camera up to my face. All throughout my childhood, I was always shooting photos or shooting video around the house to fill time. It wasn't until high school that I really started to take video seriously. I ended up going to college for film and video, but then switched my major about a year and a half in to graphic design with a minor in photography.
Like I mentioned, photography has always been a constant throughout my life but I didn't start taking it seriously until I switched my major in college. I think the first real hook was my first darkroom class. Learning how to shoot, develop, and print my own photos kickstarted the obsession. I think that was the first time I thought I could make a living off of my photography. After I graduated, I tried to focus on becoming a graphic designer but I never felt like I was as good at it as I was at photography. It got to the point where my design was utilizing my photography a lot. It wasn't until about 2015 or 2016 when I decided to focus my career on photography rather than design.
I just talked about this on my Instagram the other day, but one of the biggest hurdles I had to jump over was breaking from the rules or expectations that I had set for myself about 4 or 5 years ago. It got to the point where it was choking me creatively, and I felt as though I couldn't really progress creatively if I adhered to these arbitrary rules anymore. I think another big struggle I have a lot is falling into a cycle of not flexing my creative muscles and feeling unsure about my abilities because of my lack of exercise. I mean, it's important to work out your creative muscles just like it is important to work out your actual muscles. If you let your creative muscles atrophy you can lose a lot of momentum and strength that you've built up over the years. I’ve definitely been a victim of that creative atrophy, especially in a time like this where I can't go outside and shoot like I usually like to.
There are so many things that interest me about the subjects that I photograph. It’s hard for me to say because I enjoy shooting a lot of different things. A lot of people don't even realize that the majority of photography I shoot is product and model based. I'm kind of ADD when it comes to creativity. My wife will be the first one to tell you that I'll get really into one creative outlet, buy everything I need to do it well, and then a week later move on to something completely different. I was just going over tattoos on my arms with my mom the other day and I realize that I have three or four tattoos from different creative phases of my life. We laughed about how quick I fell in and out of love with a bunch of different art forms. But if we just focus on street photography, I think I really love focusing on composition and layers of objects or people within the frame so that there's always something new to discover in the photo. A lot of times, I won't even realize that those layers are there until I get back to my computer and either import from my SD card or scan in my film. It's like Christmas morning every time I import new photos into Lightroom.
I'm so proud of Chicago as a whole. On the bright side, it's an extremely cultured city, but on the darker side it's probably the most segregated city in the country. In a strange way, though, that segregation allows cultures to thrive and build upon one another. Each neighborhood is kind of like a cultural pressure cooker. Don't get it twisted, that systematic racism and segregation that Chicago's politicians built into the city in the last century is inherently fucked up, but I feel like only Chicago could take something ugly like that, flip it on its head, and come out of it with something positive.
I think one of the most important reasons to document life is so that people 100 or 200 or 400 years from now can look back and see what the world was like when we were alive. But I think from a sociological and political aspect, it's crucial for other human beings to see the world through other peoples eyes. There are countless ways of seeing the same thing. When you lose sight of that fact is when we really start to lose the ability to have empathy for other human beings. I think understanding and empathy are two of the most crucial things in society to hold onto. When you let those two things slip through your fingers, it's a slippery slope.