Written by Regina Herring
Richard Santiago II started collecting comic books in the nineteen eighties. Originally from the Bronx, New York, Richard and his family moved around a lot for various reasons one being safety. He yearned to learn to draw comics when he realized his friends were drawing them. One day in 1989 while living in Miami, Florida, Richard asked his friend Eddie to teach him to draw comics. After being taught how to create panels and use his imagination to draw comics, Richard instantly became motivated to do more.
In 1992 Richard adopted the hip hop culture as his own and he became a graffiti artist. You can see the comic aspect mixed with the street side in Richard’s art. From that day forward his love of comics mixed with graffiti art led him to where he is today. His drawings show what we as a society are dealing with today. The pieces that stood out to me are Exit Warning, What Choice Do I Have and Real Fake Friends. These pieces seem like they all belong together yet apart. I saw a person from birth to adulthood. You see the consequences people deal with because of decisions made.
Although art is his first love, one of Richard’s greatest achievements resulted from a six page story he wrote while in the eighth grade. The story came to be the comic “Broken Glass”. He ended up illustrating the story he previously wrote in 1991 to have it published by a magazine with nationwide distribution.
Richard currently has books available on lulu.com. They include “Untold Journey” which is a comic book based on a true story about depression; his journey through the mental health system. “Between Here and There: The Art of Richard Santiago II”. It’s a collection of his work over the past 23 years. “Broken Glass: Part 1 & 2”. A comic book about time travel. Richard is currently working on part 3 of Broken Glass which will be in gray scale, a color pattern different from the regular everyday color comics. Richard’s influences come from life; the various places he has lived and what he’s been through.
The reason for the title is Richard suffers from a medical condition he’s had since the age of 18. During one of many hospital stays Richard created an illustration titled “Schiz Alley” done in mechanical pencil. It helped describe to his doctor what he was going through because he couldn’t describe how he was feeling in words. Richard was told by his doctor that nothing was wrong with him. The mental health field has many stigmas but Richard was able to convey how he was feeling through art. Even though he had the help of counseling and education, the dark space he was in eight years ago took lots of personal effort. There is hope! Richard credits prayer and The Lord Jesus Christ for changing his life. Eight years ago Richard started reading the bible from beginning to end, and he’s currently reading it for the fifth time. Richard has proven with help, personal effort, and prayer you can rise.
Richard’s words of encouragement to up and coming artists – “Never give up. Practice. Try things that are new. Pray about it. Rely on your faith. It’s a combination of all these things that will make your life a success.” Prayer works!
To see more of Richard’s work, he can be found on all social media under RSantiagoArt.