Derek Santos was born and raised in San Bernardino, California, until he moved to Pine Ridge, South Dakota, at the age of 21. Derek was first exposed to art through graffiti and hip-hop, both leaving a lasting impact on his artistic influences. He is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation and attended Oglala Lakota College to study digital art and graphic design. While a college student, he apprenticed for two years at Studio 605 Tattoo in Rapid City, South Dakota. He relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts to pursue a BFA in Studio Arts. Derek plans to return to the Pine Ridge reservation to teach art to the Lakota youth who face daily hardships on their reservation.