This post is part of a weekly series in which we get to know Sifties.

Fredy Santiago is a designer who has been with Sift Science for one year. If he could time travel he would go back to the 1930s in Mexico City to witness the industrial revolution, the muralist movement, and – of course – hang out with Frida Kahlo.  

What are five things that make you happy?

  1. Sketchbooks: The blank book screams at me day and night to be drawn on. It’s something that I’d like to do until I can’t draw anymore. I know that I won’t always create something that I like, and that’s okay — it’s the experience of making something out of nothing that I enjoy most.
  2. Music: I love music in many shapes and sizes — music that makes you feel great, music that makes you sad … you know, the good stuff. In the past three years I’ve been growing my vinyl collection. My goal is to make it to a few hundred.  
  3. Walking: I love taking long walks, because walking leads to adventures. I like to make my walks into a game. I’ll start looking for cool coffee shops or Anthony Bourdain.
  4. Food: Food is life, food is fuel, food is culture.
  5. Getting lost : Because I’m always terrified and curious, that makes me feel happy.

The best of these five things is that I can invite family or friends along.

Who do you admire the most?

My mother, because she’s one of the strongest people I know. She’s always looking out for our family, she helps people in need, and she’s a true giver. My mom did a wonderful job raising three kids with the help of family. She taught me great values that are worth more than cars and homes. Most importantly, my mom has always been supportive of my crazy ideas, like becoming an artist.

What was your first job?

I was a crew member of the fine American restaurant McDonald’s for three years.

How did you get interested in design?

I was the kid drawing with crayons from a young age. Fast forward to high school, where I discovered design through the subcultures of skate/street art (nope, I don’t skate).

Then, in college, through mentors and friends I learned that a big part of art history has been about making rules so they can be broken. Artists and establishments were always rebelling from movements and ideas and thinking outside the box. I love creating, because at the end of the day it’s a fun test to create something beautiful, challenge the status quo, and solve problems that come with it.

You recently did a mural at the restaurant Saucy Asian. How did that opportunity come about?

They found my portfolio online! I’ve painted walls for fun before, but this was my first paid gig for a restaurant. The agency that found me thought I’d be a good fit for the modern urban vibe they created for the restaurant.

The most surprising thing was to learn all of the logistics and preparation that goes into opening a restaurant. I was working there for a month after hours and I saw many people coming in to install cameras, tools, stoves, etc. My takeaway from this experience was to learn more about the legal and insurance paperwork that goes into doing freelance work as a muralist versus a wall painter. I invite everyone to go check out Saucy Asian’s food and see the art!