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Berardo Santos

Berardo Santos

"I love the hand-embossing. I enjoy the challenge of each design, the more complicated, the better… I love this work!

"I was born in 1981 in the province of Piura. Life was especially difficult for my family in 2017 when the Niña weather... phenomenon brought constant rains to Peru's sierra and jungle regions. In Lima, the rain caused a river to flood, and all of us in the area had to be rescued from the rising waters.

"We are still working hard trying to recover from the material losses. We do what we know best. We're optimistic and don't give up in the face of adversity. I believe that life itself is a gift and we should try to enjoy every step along the way, even when things don't look promising. If we're constant and perseverant, we can look forward to a better future, in my case, for my children, my wife and myself.

"When I took a job helping out in a leather workshop, I found the work fascinated me. As the days went by and I saw all the wonderful designs, I went crazy over tooled leather. It's an incredible art and I find it so exciting. Even so, I didn't see it as a possible career.

"With the knowledge I'd acquired, I started crafting shoes. They came out pretty well, although I left a lot of badly finished work along the way. But I stuck with it and began creating new models and designs. I'd ask shoppers what they'd like me to make, and they gave me the idea of creating tooled leather purses and accessories.

"People requested certain designs and I began to create them. I also relied on my own intuition and they sold well.

"Most of what I've learned comes from the leather shops where I've worked or techniques I've taught myself, but I have the skills necessary for my work and have been able to develop a style of my own that differentiates my designs.

"All this has helped me move ahead. I also enjoy researching and learning new things — it's fascinating.

"I love the hand-embossing. I enjoy the challenge of each design, the more complicated, the better. I take it to the limits to test my own abilities and prove to myself that I really am an artist. I love this work!

"My inspiration comes from our rich Peruvian culture, especially the ancient Chan Chan people and our colonial heritage.

"When I decided to work on my own, it was very tough getting started. More than once, I was tempted to just walk away and give up, but I thought of my family and my children. I couldn't give them that kind of example. So I gathered my courage and practiced more, researched more and visited other workshops to learn to better my work.

"My dream is to be successful and to share the fruits of my labor with my family. As my workshop grows, I want to help the community by offering job opportunities through art."
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