Kitt Santos

Illustrator and UX Designer, AUSTRALIA

Let’s start with your name — what’s the story there?

If you were born in the ’80s or ’90s, you might be familiar with David Hasselhoff’s series, Knight Rider. His superpower car’s name is where my mum got my name from. (As in, Knight Industries Two Thousand — an autonomous car with a mind of its own.)

What do you do and where do you live currently?

I would like to say I do design mostly, but — in reality — I do all sorts of creative stuff from painting and illustrating to sculpting, and other crafts.

I am currently based in Canberra, a three-hour drive south-west of Sydney. It’s a pretty quiet city, mostly a network of suburbs, surrounded with majestic landscapes.

And how long have you been living and working in Canberra?

I have been living and working in Canberra for almost a year now, and it has been great so far.

You’ve had quite a journey; you’ve been living and working in different cities — big ones — away from your home country. Was this a lifelong dream of yours? What has the ride been like?

When I “quit” architecture and decided to venture into other creative disciplines, I struggled with making connections with other creatives in my own country. It was quite challenging to introduce yourself in a very tight-knit community where everyone knows each other. That was part of my motivation to move out and make a start somewhere.

In hindsight, living and working in a different country only became a dream for me when I immersed myself in a different culture, and realized that the possibility of going places further was within arms reach.

Time has always been my greatest issue. When you’re trying to balance a day job and your passion, exceptional time management is paramount. While it is challenging, it has worked to my benefit most of the time. I usually have better ideas when I’m cramming. I still suggest to have some form of planning. The best way I deal with it is by taking a break or doing something else that is different from what I normally do. Also, having a core support group helps a lot.

Did you suffer from culture shock when you were new in Australia? How did you cope/manage the cultural and geographical adjustment?

I did! As a city person, it took me a while to get the hang of living in a quiet suburb where the only thing you can hear at night is your fridge and creepy possum noises. The craziest [experience] has to be getting locked inside the bathroom on my first night. Terrifying.

What have been the striking cultural features that you appreciate most about living and working in Canberra?

People here are very friendly and approachable. They say when Australians ask you how are you doing, they really mean it. That’s usually their first greeting all the time.

Work life balance is pretty amazing. There are days when it can be quite busy, but overall it is laid-back. I have more free time to do personal work most especially during spring to summer when the days are longer.

Can you tell us a bit more about your passion projects? You seem to have a lot!

It is quite challenging to define what my passion projects are. Until now, I can’t do a “proper” branding for myself with all the different stuff I do.

Kitt’s watercolour illustrations graced the pages of GRID Magazine, a quarterly print publication about the Philippines.

While anything around design is my core passion, the closest and most personal to me would have to be my watercolour illustrations and Little Bunny.Big World.

Could you give us a peek into your home or work space?

I usually work in any part of the lounge area when I’m painting, otherwise I’m on my actual work table in the corner where my back faces the TV. I get distracted easily, particularly with food shows.

What are your favorite spots in Canberra?

If you’re into architecture, Canberra is sprawling with imposing brutalist buildings, a clear reflection of the capital city which is a host to government establishments. Biking to the National Museum along Lake Burley Griffin is amazing all year round, tho it is at its most beautiful during autumn.

On regular days I’m usually just around Lonsdale area where all the cafes, pubs, and quaint shops are. The Hamlet is my go-to for a cup of Pho and delicious souvlaki wrap.

The Green Shed is also recommended if you’re into vintage and second-hand trinkets.

Among the local food, lamington fingers/cake has to be my favourite. I’m not particularly a fan of vegemite and I don’t think I’m ready to try Kangaroo meat yet. :p

Follow Kitt’s whimsical depictions of daily life with a splash of watercolour on IG @kittsantos.

Chiara DC

Chiara DC

Editor In Chief at OpenBrief
Chiara writes for a living, usually in transit.
Chiara DC
Chiara DC

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