Ocean Drive - - Shot On Site -

If you’re an art lover liv­ing in the 305, chances are you’re al­ready a die-hard Sant­lov fan with a fa­vorite piece from his “Toys­rus” col­lec­tion. If you’re not, it’s time to open up your so­cial me­dia apps and fol­low @Sant­lov right now. With work that is as vis­ually stim­u­lat­ing as it is men­tally en­gag­ing, it’s hard to imag­ine that the Mi­ami-based artist never re­ceived for­mal train­ing—rather, he says, his cre­ative ge­nius happened “sort of by ac­ci­dent.”

Five years ago, Sant­lov be­gan us­ing pho­tog­ra­phy and graphic de­sign to cre­ate his now widely rec­og­nized “Toys­rus” se­ries (fea­tur­ing iconic char­ac­ters from pop­u­lar films like Darth Vader tex­ting on an iphone and Spi­der­man sport­ing Nike “Spi­der­kicks”)— a hobby that quickly turned into a pas­sion. “It’s an at­tempt to hu­man­ize so­ci­etal, cul­tural, and tech­no­log­i­cal norms onto inan­i­mate ob­jects,” he says.

Though he’s an art star on the rise, he ac­knowl­edges it was the Magic City that helped pro­pel him to suc­cess. “[You de­velop] a unique set of life skills to thrive in this mul­ti­cul­tured, mul­ti­sen­sory, and mul­ti­lay­ered city,” he says.

To­day, Sant­lov con­tin­ues to cre­ate art with the goal of mak­ing Mi­ami­ans (and his 310,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers) think dif­fer­ently. “Find beauty in ev­ery­thing and seek a higher pur­pose. Don’t be­come some­one’s toy!” Find Sant­lov’s work at the Avant Gallery at the Epic Ho­tel, 270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Ste. 102, Mi­ami, 786-2208600; avant­­lov. Sant­lov is trans­form­ing the way Mi­ami—and the world—per­ceives art by fus­ing fan­tasy with re­al­ity.

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