My name is Orlando Santos. As an artist, I go under the name of for fun, for flair, to try to have that artistic whip appeal. 48 years ago, I was born in Holyoke, MA. I reside there now and most of my life. I was always inspired artistically by living in the city, seeing so many mixed cultures, fashion, cuisines and the natural beauty of living in Western MA. I also lived several years in NYC, where we all know or can imagine, has much to inspire us all and especially as an artist.
My name started as a joke. I wanted to create my own following, cult or religion ie: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Judaism. I figured why not create OiZM, changing the s into a z because of the musician Erykah Badu’s album called Baduizm and I thought it was a nice way of spelling it. My iZM is my own way of doing things which carries over to my art. Ironically Ism, with an s, its definition has to do with a political or artistic movement. iZM, with a z, has a definition all of its own, but I’ll let you read up on that one. I started painting for fun with my daughter, which is why if you look in all of my artwork you’ll find a W hiding within it, as her name is Wynter. Also in many of my paintings you can find the number 4 or four flowers/four dots/four of anything because I have four kids; 3 boys and 1 girl who’s the youngest. I was one of 4 children in my family. 3 boys and 1 girl. I was the 3rd boy and my sister is the youngest, too.
This has been only my 3rd year into painting. I started by using sketch pads with charcoals and cray-pas. During those times I wasn’t my best self and it showed in my work. The work was very dark. Both in colors and theme. Full of pain. I wasn’t being good to myself and was putting the partying ahead of my goals. I put that self-abuse behind me for good, 7 years ago this June, and my paintings evolved into a more colorful and digestible class of art that most anyone can relate to and enjoy. It’s surreal to look back and see that story told in my artwork alone. Being that I am from Puerto Rican decent, I hadn’t seen a lot of people like me in the arts. I looked to the greats to inspire me. I am influenced by all genres of artists from Basquiat to Andy Warhol to Bob Dylan in their lyrical and storytelling imagery. But overall, the things that I see & hear are primarily from music. Music is what I am most passionate about, equal to or maybe more than my art but they go hand in hand. All types of music from the Carpenters to Jay-Z. I’m also very inspired from beauty and the pain I witness in life; both physical and mental pain of others, and of course in myself.
I’m excited that the art culture can be more seen & is booming in local restaurants, businesses, events, and other establishments. Creating art gives one a great feeling of accomplishment, well if you actually finish the projects that you may start! But you eventually do. I feel one of the reasons local art took off in recent years was due to the Covid pandemic. Because of this pandemic people were required to stay home, so people took to their phones more. Through social media outlets, arts and music became objects sought out more & more by everyday average people. That’s how I was able to take the time to saturate my work on that platform. Honestly, the pandemic helped my art take off tremendously. I’m just a local artist with a dream like many others. I didn’t have a lot of resources or experience when I began, but the local people & businesses helped me get to where I am now. Western MA and beyond has recognized me into this culture as well as local restaurants and other establishments. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment and acceptance.