8 Things You Should Know About Satin Puppets
What’s in a look? When it comes to Gothic twin sister duo Satin Puppets, a look is only half the story.
Sure, Joanna and Julia Araujo have created their own empire of Gothic art, but a passing glance, or listen, doesn’t do justice to the depth of their work.
“Even though our art has a dark aesthetic, and a dark theme,” Joanna explains, “there’s a lightness to it at the same time. There’s a purity and innocence about it, too. I think it’s because when we create it’s usually for a purpose, as like an outlet. It’s a way for us to communicate the way we feel, and express things that we feel inside. With that vulnerability comes this duality in our work of light and dark, so even though it looks dark and intimidating, there’s always something light about it, and something that’s kind of really honest and vulnerable about it.”
Julia adds that when it comes to the California-based duo’s recently launched music career, their songs are “an extension of the world that we’re painting.”
As of now Satin Puppets, who are known as Little Ghouls in the art world, have released two singles – “Quagmire” and “Intertwined” – and in addition to their art, and music, they also have a candle business rounding out the world they’ve created.
I caught up up with Joanna and Julia to find out more about that world.
Here are eight things you should know about Satin Puppets.
Their influences range from Tim Burton films to a Russian version of Pinocchio
While Tim Burton films seem like a natural inspiration for the Gothic twins, they also note that the cartoons they watched as children weren’t exactly traditional. According to Joanna, “We later came to realize that they’re actually kind of creepy.”
She says, “We grew up watching, of course, a lot of Disney stuff, but also a lot of Russian cartoons, because we’re half Russian, and my mom and my grandma put Russian stuff on for us to watch. Looking back now I realize that a lot of people would call it really eerie, because of the way that they would make the puppets move like stop-motion, and their fake eyes. That’s what we were influenced by, so I guess that’s why our art looks eerie and dark.”
One such film from their childhood was a Russian live-action version of Pinocchio called Buratino, which Joanna describes saying, “(It) has actual people wearing costumes that are puppet-like, and actual life-sized puppets. I never found it eerie as a child. We never thought it was creepy, but I show it to friends now, and they’re like, ‘You guys watched this when you were little?!?! How are not traumatized?’”
For the twins, the feeling they get from it is the opposite of trauma, as Julia says when it comes to the collection of odd cartoons and movies they watched as kids, “It’s kind of a symbol of comfort, and childhood to us, so I guess naturally we were drawn to the eerie darkness.”
One elementary school teacher was not a fan of their work
Pink Floyd once demanded teachers “leave them kids alone,” and Satin Puppets would’ve been thrilled if one of their grade school teachers had taken that advice.
Joanna remembers a specific incident from her elementary school years, saying, “I was drawing in the back of the class. I was drawing dinosaurs, because I was obsessed with dinosaurs, and dragons, and my teacher just walks up next to me, and I didn’t realize she was standing over my shoulder staring at me. Finally, when I realized she was standing over my shoulder, just staring at me, she took my paper. To this day I’ll never forget it, because I was so sad, she took my paper, and crumpled it up, and threw it away.”
It would be wonderful turn of events if that teacher has since ordered something from the Little Ghouls website.
It all started on Instagram
The origin story for Satin Puppets / Little Ghouls starts with the sisters creating an Instagram account when they were in high school. They did so with no intention of launching an empire, or even starting a business. They just wanted a place to call their own.
According to Joanna, “We were always quiet. We kept a lot of our personal life to ourselves, but art was always our way to connect with people, so on Instagram we would post our art, and stuff, and eventually our Instagrams turned into our art accounts, but that wasn’t really ever the intention. It was just a place for me to be creative, like an outlet. It was a place for me to put all my art, and my photos, the photography that we would do … a place for me to escape to. It was like a safe space for me.”
Once people became interested in buying their art, the Little Ghouls shop was created, and things took off from there.
Their music involves hardships, and catharsis, all wrapped up together
Satin Puppets have written an album’s worth of songs, and Joanna says the inspiration came from a troubling time.
“We went through a really crazy time in our lives,” she explains, “We really lost touch with ourselves. I feel like I completely left my body for a time being, and had to like resuscitate myself.”
During that struggle, however, she and Julia were constantly writing, and they were writing with a purpose. According to Joanna, “We were writing for cathartic reasons, but we were really overwhelmed with life because it was when we had graduated from college, and so we were really pressured with – what are we doing? We were afraid. Well, more so me, I was the one that was really afraid. So we were writing a lot, and as we were going through a lot of crazy things, at the end of it all, when we had started our healing journey, I took everything we had been writing and (turned) it into a story. It’s kind of a journal, like a story of our healing.”
Joanna continued, adding, “Each of our songs is going to communicate the healing journey that we went through, through visuals that we felt helped us go through what we were going through.”
Their songs “Quagmire” and “Intertwined” each give insight into the human condition
With their first two singles, Satin Puppets dive into deep emotional territory that is decidedly human.
Julia notes their song “Quagmire” is about, “Basically hitting rock bottom,” but there’s a light at the end of that tunnel, as Joanna adds, “It also has the solution in it. The song does communicate the solution, which is illuminating the fright, which means confronting yourself about the way that you’re feeling, and the way that you’re perceiving the world in the moment.”
When it comes to the song “Intertwined,” Joanna says that particular song “is leading into the story of why is it that we find ourselves lost in life. ‘Intertwined’ is about feeling like you are not whole, feeling like you need to prove yourself, so you find yourself caught up in a lot of things that you don’t need to be part of. ‘Intertwined’ communicates feeling like you’re literally bound up.”
Connection to an inner world is a key aspect of all of their work
Satin Puppets like to explore the heart and soul of people. It’s why Joanna says, “I think it’s important to acknowledge that we have an inner world, and take care of it,” adding, “If we don’t really take care of ourselves then that inner world can become overgrown and infested with toxicity.”
This coincides with the sisters’ belief in parallel universes.
“This reality that we’re seeing, and experiencing, with our bodies is just one little dimension,” Joanna explains, “but there are actually so many other dimensions, and I think art, and creation is a way to channel those ideas, and those parallel experiences, into reality. It’s like a portal. It’s like a doorway into reality, and I think anytime somebody’s creating, whatever kind of form of creation that it is, it’s bringing things from another dimension into reality for us to experience, and I think that’s why it’s also very healing, because it communicates things that we might not really be able to understand because we’re not able to receive that with just what we’re looking at in this just one dimension. It helps to heal people, and to help people understand what is happening behind the scenes, what’s happening inside, the inner world.”
Joanna and Julia could’ve been the most Gothic med school students ever
While their family has been incredibly supportive of all things Satin Puppets and Little Ghouls related, there was a point in time when the sisters nearly found themselves looking at PhD programs, as there was an influence on them to go to med school.
The idea didn’t gain much traction, although Julia says had it happened she probably would’ve opted for something chemistry related. Joanna, on the other hand, would’ve gone the route of alternative nutrition, being a fan of Ayurvedic healing, and energetic healing.
The sisters once pulled a switcheroo to handle a situation
Sometimes twins have to take advantage of looking exactly alike, and while Joanna and Julia say they never swapped places to take tests for each other in school, Joanna remembers one time they traded places.
“It was because this kid was really bothering my sister, and she was more quiet in high school than I was … So we switched classes because I was like, let me just tell this kid to leave ‘me’ alone. We switched classes, and I took care of that. He stopped talking to her.”
While the problem was taken care of, Joanna still had to sit through the class, and there was a moment when she almost blew her cover. “It was so nerve-wracking. The teacher was like, ‘OK Julia, go write the answer on the board,’ and for a second I was just sitting there.”
Thankfully, she remembered that she was playing the role of Julia, and managed to complete the task, proving these Satin Puppets can also be puppet masters.