Being a member at Projective Space means you get the chance of meeting some of the coolest people in the biz (yeah, we are boasting), and there’s no better way to start the month of March than by introducing you to a true entrepreneur who has a killer visual eye.
You probably already follow Sean Santiago on Instagram. With 86.8K followers, his feed illustrates behind-the-scene snaps and self-portrait images that showcase what his everyday life entails. But while Sean may be prom king of the Insta-universe, he has definitely accomplished more than just taking pictures for his perfectly-curated feed. As a design editor and creative consultant, Sean is constantly working on projects that are completely innovated and straight-up gorgeous. He has 5+ years of on-set experience with art directing and prop styling and has worked with brands such as Elle Decor, West Elm, and Bon Appetit. Even though he is now his own boss, he once worked for fashion lifestyle website, Refinery29, where he was the senior home editor and he also created queer arts and culture magazine, Cakeboy. Saying that Sean is a well-rounded entrepreneur with beautiful taste is a huge understatement.
We had the pleasure of getting to know Sean at our Freeman’s location where we chatted about how he stays true to his aesthetic, how he takes his coffee, and what his day-to-day is like. Meet the creative genius, Sean Santiago.
As a design editor and creative consultant, what is your day-to-day like in the office?
It always varies! Even when I work from home and maybe all I have to do is write, I still try to schedule my day as if someone is holding me accountable. I put everything on my calendar, even just "office time" so that it feels real.
How do you normally take your coffee?
French pressed, with almond milk and honey in a demitasse cup because I'm a lady :)
As an entrepreneur juggling multiple projects at once, how do you keep yourself focused and prioritize your tasks to get everything done in a timely manner?
Again with the calendar, but also just constantly asking myself what the payoff of each project will be in the long run. I write so much and it's really easy to feel like I'm constantly pitching stories I'm not passionate about just to make ends meet, so I remind myself to set aside time for pursuing longer lead stories and projects that will build up my portfolio in a meaningful way. As long as there's money in the bank...
Before going freelance you were a senior home editor at Refinery29. What was it like in such a corporate environment and how has that shaped your work ethic for your own business?
It helped me so much, honestly, and gave me such a strong foundation to work from. I had a lot of autonomy to pursue creative work that spoke to me and was also challenged with scaling content for a massive audience in a way I'd never even considered before. It was a great way to really reaffirm my skills in the digital space, and as someone who runs a print magazine, to really clarify the strong suits of that kind of platform versus traditional media and see how they can support and complement each other.
How do you stay true to your aesthetic when you live in a city that is covered with inspiration and other artists alike?
I have a really distinct point of view that's honestly not much informed by trends or like, what the most-Instagrammed restaurant in Brooklyn looks like. I like what I like and respond to it so emotionally, and honestly it's pretty global in scope. As a contributing editor at Sight Unseen, which has got to be the best contemporary design site out there, I'm constantly covering new makers and products...yet I can still be so old-fashioned when it comes to design! #IdRatherBeAntiquing
What are some things you wish you knew when you were younger before questing on your own career path?
I wish I'd had better social skills when I was younger, and had been better at networking. Is that too obvious? It's probably the only thing that matters! Well, that and just being unafraid to take risks and get it wrong and learn from that and move on. I think I was too afraid of embarrassing myself at times to really go after what I wanted. And I'm just generally terrible at cover letters.
It seems you know a thing or two when it comes to social media. How do you feel social media, especially Instagram, has changed the game for entrepreneurs and companies? Where do you see the value and growth in the platform, especially for your craft and individuality?
I'm so over Instagram, honestly. Ha! I really like Snapchat, but mostly just wish I had a chip in my brain that captured all the funny moments I want to send to my friends / the world and gif-ed them and sent them out automatically. That can only be a few years away, right?
Is there an overall goal you would like to obtain when it comes to your career?
Just everything I've ever wanted.
You also created the queer arts and culture magazine, Cakeboy, back in spring 2015. How did that idea come about and how would you like to see it grow, especially going into the third issue?
Cakeboy is such a great outlet for me since it's pretty much the polar opposite of my day job. I'd been blogging for years and decided last spring to put together some of the interviews in a zine. I had it printed in Queens and launched it at the Brooklyn Zine Fest and that was that. After Kickstarting the second issue I've had more time to think about what it is and what it can be, which is overwhelming but so exciting to see as the third issue comes together. I get to talk to so many amazing artists and creatives who are really informing and changing popular culture in meaningful ways, like Alok Vaid-Menon and Jay Boogie. Hopefully it's only bigger and better from here!
Any advice for someone who is looking to go down the same path as you?
Know your strengths—and believe in them, too! It's so important to prove to yourself that you can do something, that you can achieve something you set your mind to. And work hard and try not to be jealous of people when it seems like they get everything so easily and you're toiling away like Cinderella or some shit.