In anticipation of this week's print release with artistic duo Tratos, we sat down with the artists - Juan Travieso (View Juan's previous People's Printshop releases) and Katerina Santos - to learn about their art and life. Take a look at short interview below:
How did you two meet?
We met in high school. We both went to the same high school, but Juan became a teacher after he graduated, and I was his student for a short time. I then became his artist assistant for a while before moving to Philadelphia in 2016. The start of the pandemic forced me to move back to Miami where I crossed paths with Juan once again for a project Juan had at Zoo Miami. During that project is when we realized we both worked better together than we did apart, and the artistic partnership began. The partnership is fairly new but we have made huge strides as far as what we have been able to accomplish together.
What are both of your first artistic memories?
Kat: My first artistic memories and inspiration came from watching my mom draw growing up. My grandfather loved drawing cartoons and eyes for her when she was little and she began to do the same for me after he had passed. It was her way of consoling herself, and I was too young to understand that she was grieving but it drove me to begin drawing.
Juan: As a young kid in Cuba, I did not have access to toys that reflected the cartoons I was watching on television growing up. My first artistic memory was drawing the cartoons I would watch on TV. I would see the few kids in my neighborhood that did have toys that were sent from abroad. This inspired me to draw my own action figures and make them come to life using the limited materials I had available.
What is the meaning behind Tratos?
We decided to combine our independent art careers and form TRATOS. The name is a combination of both our last names (Travieso and Santos). Tratos in Spanish means a deal, a bond and a promise to one another to create a reality we wish to see with our paintings.
Could you tell us a bit about your release with us, also titled "Tratos?"
The print "Tratos" is of a painting we did for this year's Cass Contemporary's Paint it Forward Vol. 2 show in Tampa, Fl. It was the first show we did together, and we chose to paint portraits of one another. The paintings are to show people why we decided to combine our artistic abilities in the first place. We balance each other out perfectly, Kat's weaknesses happen to be my strengths and vice versa.
What is a normal day like in the studio for you two?
Our days in the studio are always exciting because there is always more than one thing happening at once. A normal day in the studio consists of switching paintings back and forth to each other throughout the day, designing or planning out new projects. Sometimes it is a little bit of everything, it is never a dull day in the studio.
What sorts of creative difficulties are made easier in a partnership?
When we were each working independently we found that studio time was typically a lonely endeavor. The loneliness can really get to you sometimes and make you feel uninspired. Those creative difficulties are made easier in this partnership. It is difficult to hit an artistic block. We are constantly inspiring one another and because we work together we are capable of having constant creative conversations that keep us going. We have the privilege to push each other and watch each other grow.
What do you two get up to when you're not creating?
When we are not creating we like to go to the beach and metal-detect together. We look like dorks with all the equipment we take but you would be surprised to see all the treasures you can find at the beach. We find a lot of treasures but also a lot of trash so as we look for treasures we clean up the beach at the same time. It is sad to see how much trash people leave behind but we feel like the beach kind of rewards us when we find jewelry and tons of coins.
What can we look forward to next in 2022 from you?
This year we will be releasing a lot more new paintings but also we are trying to expand our capabilities and we will be releasing clothing and a few short films soon! It has been a challenging learning curve but it is through these challenges that we grow the most.