Santiago was born on August 10, 1963 in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he was raised and still lives today. He grew up with a strong indigenous influence from his Zapoec father, who is also a painter.
In 1988 Santiago moved to the USA and took a job as a dishwasher at a Texas restaurant. Speaking no English and short on art supplies he began painting on pizza boxes as his means of expression. At the age of 27 he sold his first painting, on a pizza box.
After a serious car accident left him bedridden for six months, he explored his passion for art, painting on any material available; scrap paper, tin, envelopes, etc. A gallery owner, impressed with his work, offered him his first show. It was was then that he realized that his calling was to paint.
Santiago returned to Oaxaca nine years later where he continues to paint and develop as an artist. His work has been exhibited in Mexico, the United States and Europe.
Santiago is humble and at times shy, he is grateful for the relationships he has built with the people of Oaxaca and always enjoys conversations with travelers visiting Mexico. He has a reputation of being a kind, sensitive artist who enjoys life and embraces daily economic challenges that face Indigenous artists in Mexico.
The simplistic beauty of nature moves Santiago, and his paintings express this love and surrounding environment. Trees and people morph together connecting them to each other while often expressing something higher unfolding within the ordinary.