7 Popular Santa Barbara Artists You Need to Know

Photo credit: Emily Thomson

Art can be found in many different forms throughout this vibrant seaside city—like in local art galleries and museums—but it’s the artists behind the paintbrush that truly bring the essence of Santa Barbara to the canvas. Read on to learn about some of Santa Barbara’s most well-known local artists and where you can find their work. And, on your next visit, consider taking a piece or two home to commemorate your trip to The American Riviera®. 

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Colette Cosentino

Coming from a rural town to sunny, seaside Santa Barbara, Colette Consentino brings the land, sky and sea to life on canvas with her unique oil paintings, all with a familiar soft, neutral hue. With unique, dotted paint strokes that make up the leaves on her whimsical trees and abstract visions of dreamy clouds, her personality is truly manifested in her work. In addition to awe-inspiring mural work and wall coverings, Cosentino creates and showcases her paintings and illustrations in her downtown Santa Barbara studio, which are also available to purchase online.

DJ Javier

Despite his name, DJ Javier doesn’t spin records. He dishes out eclectic works of art that are displayed across the city through a variety of different mediums. From murals to unique shoe designs, a piece of art created by DJ Javier brightens up any space. If he’s not in his design studio Bayan Surf Club, he’s working on his clothing brand Canto Vision that features unique, abstract depictions of his iconic skeleton design on sweatshirts, hats, t-shirts and more. If you’re walking in the Funk Zone, be sure to stop by the SeaVees retail shop, where you’ll find the iconic “Wish You Were Here” mural, which makes for an excellent Santa Barbara photo opp, and then venture inside to try on a pair of the SeaVees x DJ Javier collaboration.

Erika Carter

Third-generation Santa Barbara local and University of California, Santa Barbara graduate Erika Carter creates art installments in the style of expressionism influenced by her two decades worth of travel and memories of her childhood visits to her grandparents’ cozy Montecito home, fittingly comprised of Santa Barbara’s iconic red tile roofing and stucco exterior. Much of her work, which can be found in her Funk Zone studio or in Dart Coffee Co. (a coffee shop owned by Carter and her husband), depicts scenes of latina women wearing various floor-length gowns and adorned with detailed flower crowns and various greenery sprouting from the tops of their heads. Carter’s deep pride for her heritage and her hometown is prevalent in every piece she produces, many of which can be purchased online.

Kelly Clause

Artist and Santa Barbara native Kelly Clause expresses her creativity through the means of watercolor landscape, seascape, wildlife and still life paintings that have become widely sought-after Santa Barbara keepsakes among visitors and residents. Growing up surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors and raised in a family of naturalists, marine biologists and fishermen, Clause undoubtedly channels that passion in her work. Prints, greeting cards, calendars and original pieces are available for purchase on her website and in local stores and boutiques throughout Santa Barbara, such as Seaside Makers and Ace Rivington.              

Michael Matheson

Santa Barbara local Michael Matheson is responsible for many of the bright and unique murals around the city of Santa Barbara as well as many of the posters and logos for some of Santa Barbara’s favorite coffee joints, eateries and retail shops. His newest projects include a vibrant mural for new Funk Zone restaurant We Want The Funk, the signage for Cajé Coffee Roasters and t-shirt designs for vintage store Westward General. His distinctive style is easily recognizable, so be on the lookout for more of his work throughout town during your next visit.

Peter Horjus

Peter Horjus is the graphic designer behind many Santa Barbara businesses’ logos (think: Alessia Pâtisserie, D’Angelo Bread, etc.) and has worked with many large-scale brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Coca-Cola, “Time Magazine” and Barnes & Noble. Horjus’ career kicked off during college, and he was able to open his own design and illustration studio in his 20s. Aside from his brand partnerships, he also has created hundreds of illustrations and sketch-like, modern-style paintings—many of which tend to feature people—and are available for purchase on his website.

Pedro de la Cruz

Born in Baja California, much of popular Santa Barbara-based artist Pedro de la Cruz’s work is influenced by the regions of Mexico where his parents are from—Sonora and Jalisco. In addition to drawing inspiration from famous artists like Picasso and Matisse for their unique grasps on fluidity and color, his work is also heavily influenced by the diverse culture right here in Santa Barbara. After moving to Santa Barbara with his family in the ‘80s, de la Cruz’s love for abstract-style work began to blossom in high school and college. He quickly became a prominent force in Santa Barbara’s robust art scene and has pieces on display in high-end studios like Helena Mason Art Gallery and home stores like Katheryne Designs in Montecito and Porch in Summerland.