Our next stop on the world tour of Montana Shops, in the form of interviews and Spotify shop playlists, takes us to Montana Shop Santiago in Chile. Here we find without doubt one of the most interesting official outlets, housed in the midst of a busy social hub. It can be considered a true graffiti home that boasts everything from a tattoo studio and gym to a video game arcade, as well as an outdoor hall of fame with space for ten writers to show their skills.

As we’ve discovered in conversations with other Montana Dealers, the reality of the global pandemic has radically altered service protocols at the Montana Shop Santiago. However, the team has surprisingly been able to find positive new ways to deal with the fresh set of problems. Juan Pablo, one of the founders of the store, put it like this: “It has been a very crazy experience because it led to an increase in sales, but it took us away from the activities we manage on the walls, like workshops and inviting guest artists.”
As part of #mtnchilemonth, MTN-WORLD took the opportunity to catch up with the team in the Chilean capital.

Who’s in the team at the Montana Shop Santiago?
The MTN Shop Santiago team is comprised of Francisca aka Miel, José aka Tuku and Juan Pablo aka Hesao.

Tell us about the shop started up.
Everything began when I met Kapi on a trip to Berlin. We were both invited to Zebster’s house to paint and we had the opportunity to spend a couple of days together. From that friendship came a trip to Barcelona, when I was invited to visit the Montana Colors factory. At that time I was traveling, painting and had no intention of setting up a shop, but as the years went by I collaborated on some projects with Montana Colors and we began to see the posibilities of distribution in Chile. From that conversation, we started to work on this opportunity to start a project that’s already been in existence for 12 years.

What do you like most about working in Santiago?
I have grown up in this city along with graffiti. It’s always been a place where we’ve enjoyed great creative freedom, with people open to giving us space to work and in a constantly evolving scene.
Today, it’s a city that is growing in terms of culture, with a strong social initiatives including graffiti as a central part.

“There are four or five established generations of writers active in the city who operate in almost parallel scenes.”

How would you describe the customers you have?
Professionals from different creative areas, ranging from people who want to paint a bike to working on giant murals. People who want to produce quality work, who are interested in learning and see spray paint as an increasingly versatile and complete tool.

What the graffiti scene in the country like?
It is really varied, there are four or five established generations of writers active in the city who operate in almost parallel scenes.
It came from precarious beginnings, from graffiti painted with a roller, latex and a couple of spray cans, and it developed through the arrival of a great variety of materials, information, influences, travelers, the internet and local cultural roots among others.

What places do you recommend to visitors to Chile to paint or see spray can art?
The two must-see cities in Chile are Santiago and Valparaíso.
Santiago has a lot of painted areas, you can just take a walk around the center and you’ll see a lot of graffiti, but the “hall of fames” are always a bit further away: highways, river banks, the same as in almost all large cities.
In the case of Valparaíso, that has a lot of work concentrated in a small space, in addition to being a tourist destination. You can walk a couple of hours through the hills and see a lots of art of all kinds.
In both cities there are graffiti tours organized by people from the scene that we recommend to get to know some of these areas. Also, if they pass through Santiago, they can paint at the store. This is very convenient for tourists who don’t know how the system works and just want a good place to paint. This can be organized via our instagram: @mtnshop_santiago.

2020 forced us to rethink our way of working, which led us to optimize our web and delivery service, meaning now we don’t have as much contact with people.

What are some of the products that you sell the most?
MTN 94 is the paint of choice, closely followed by Hardcore, then the entire Water Based range.
In recent years, the development of the PRO line has attracted many customers looking for this type of product. Varnishes, primers and effects are the best sellers.
2020 was a good year for MTN Pro. Because of the pandemic, lots of people stayed at home, doing projects, and they got to know us in this way. We’ve developed guides for them that explain how to use the products, and we’ve learned new uses of aerosols that we’d never thought of before.

What hopes do you have for 2021?
2020 forced us to rethink our way of working, which led us to optimize our web and delivery service, meaning now we don’t have as much contact with people.
Hopefully this year we can meet again safely and perfect the development we started last year.

We also hope that in 2021, culture will continue to grow as it was doing the pandemic, and the teams and projects that were flourishing in 2019 can continue their course.

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