Distortedd, born Anhia Santana, is more than just an artist with a distinctive taste in art. Known for her almost gnarly or morbid taste in design, the artist has grown a following from her dark, yet thought revoking art. Turning cartoon icons into Tim Burton-esque drawings is what makes her unique and worth watching out for. Scrolling down her social media, you will find colorful one-eyed human like figures, animated shorts, and cute monsters, all up for grabs in her online store. While she has made a living doing art, becoming a new mother has changed her workflow and influences how she raises her son. “I feel like [art] is important because it will determine who he is going to be once he is older. That’s my goal right now, to expose him to different stuff.” However, balancing both her work and being a mom wasn’t easy. “I am still working on it. It’s all about building a schedule. At first, I didn’t do any work, I just wanted to enjoy my son and gradually got back to my art.”
Exposure to different artworks has been influential for distortedd who had no prior education in art. Raised by parents who immigrated from Dominican Republic, Anhia, a self-taught artist learned through the artwork of her father’s. While imprisoned, Anhia’s dad would send his daughter letters with his own work, something that triggered young Anhia to becoming the artist she is today. From the love for Frida Khalo to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Anhia has always shown both honor and respect for those before her. She even shares what a dream collaboration between herself and Basquiat would be like.
I would love to collaborate on one of those big canvas that he makes. I would love to collaborate on that. But it would also be interesting to see him do animation or something. Like his most famous art and turn it into animation. That would be something that I would like to do if he was still around.
But along with dream collaborations with those who have since passed on, Santana has ideas for those who are still with us today. Santana’s artwork has drawn in the likes of Erykah Badu, Action Bronson, Jhene Aiko and many more, however, there is one Japanese, Yayoi Kusama, artist who caught her eye. “I just really admire her story more than anything. How she started out, it just kind of makes sense to as to why her art is the way that it is. Because it has a lot to do with her, her personality, and the mental situations that she went through. And her story is just really cool. So out of everybody she is somebody that I would like to work with,” says Santana.
It does not come as a surprise that Santana pays such close attention to the inspiration behind the artwork of her favorite artists, as she has very interesting inspirations of her own. “It comes from the things that I am interested in. My inspiration stems from my lifestyle and my past, so I merged everything together. I like to paint a lot of the things that I am interested in, cartoon characters, things like that. Those are all of the things that I have recreated, all the things that inspire my art. But it just comes from me being into psychedelics, horror films and things like that. A mixture of everything.” Although Santana likes to take psychedelics, she states she never used them during the creative mode:
“I feel like when you’re under the influence of shrooms, it’s the time to take in your environment. Some people do paint, but I like to chill and take everything in. So when you take it in and paint afterwards, you have that experience. I always liked to trip and chill, and then look at my art while I’m tripping. It just makes more sense to just do it like that. I always had weird art before I started using psychedelics, it is just a part of my personality. Psychedelics just enhances it. It takes your mind to another place.”
The possibility of Santana’s self-proclaimed weird art becoming an animation is high as she would love to create her own animation series. The artist started to share 10-second anime style animations on her Instagram account. Something she is extremely proud of. “That is a goal [to start an animation series] to do that. I wouldn’t want to animate them. (Laughs) I would love to give them a story and have others to draw them in my style. But that is definitely a goal, something that I would love to do.”
Over the weekend (March 24) Santana hosted her very first Sip-n-Paint event in Columbus, Ohio. Something that she has been planning for some time. She stated that the event was a joint effort between herself and venue owners, but would love to do her own thing national wide. “I have never done one before. But it will be a learning experience that I can take with me to other shows. Teach those how to paint and go to different cities with that knowledge. New York will definitely be one of those places that I would love to have this event at.”
But the ride does not just end here, as Santana has so many plans for 2018 for her fans and fellow artists. “I have plans for more major projects. Collaborating with big companies and whatnot. Take it to the next level and definitely more sip and paint events. I think that’s where I am going to take my route, with art parties. But switch it up a little bit. But I still have plans to do my art, have exhibitions here and there. Just more stuff. (laughs)” Maybe Santana was hinting at the new collaboration she unveiled days after her event with Nike. The artist announced the news on her social media account on AirMax day, the 5th annual celebration of one Nike’s most popular sneakers. Santana thanked the brand for allowing her to share her likeness with them.
“My dream came true, I used to just be that lil hood baby that would collect all the sneakers and cop every Jordan drop, never thought this could happen to me and then I realized I’m not a normal chick… thanks, @Nikenyc for picking me to collab with you, it’s only up from here 🌀 #airmaxday
As a young girl who has lived a difficult but rewarding life, Santana knows the hardship of being taken seriously in the art world. With anything in life, practice is needed. “Start practicing,” says Santana. “Don’t be discouraged by your age or your income. In the beginning, it can seem so hard and you may not know what direction to take. But I do recommend going to school, if it is possible.If you have the opportunity to go, if not then make it [art] your job and the thing that you do every day. It is important to work on it as much as possible. The more you work on it, the more stuff you have to show people and your skills will develop. It will get better. I just feel like it is important to make that your focus and work on it everyday until it comes to life.”