We had the good fortune of connecting with Ian Aguilar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ian, why did you pursue a creative career?
Freedom. I feel absolutely free when I create. Figuring out how to make a living doing it is the tricky part.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started fabricating art for artists in Los Angeles after dropping out of college. What led up to that were the following events. I first pursued “permaculture” in hope of building edible community landscapes amidst food deserts in south LA where I’m from. Born and raised in Compton life wasn’t particularly rough but we were never financially comfortable which meant resources were scarce and most of my family suffered from weight issues due to the lack of nutrient dense resources. I took it upon myself to start a food oasis in my parents backyard in Compton and held classes to teach people in my local area how to garden in an urban setting. How to give back to the earth so it would do the same for you. Eventually I had to build furniture because my classes were increasing in size. People from as far as san Diego and Washington would attend my classes. We made furniture out of up cycled pallets discarded on the side of grocery stores and hardware stores. I fell in love with using the creative process to building 3 dimensional objects from already preexisting items. I then realized I loved design and looked into going back to school for environmental design at Art Center. In the meantime our permaculture business wasn’t making money and we needed jobs. I applies to art fabrication jobs, landed an internship and the rest was history. I ended work for “The Haas Brothers” for a few years learned a ton and then moved forwards with my new learned skills, in ceramics, model making, sewing, metal works, 3d modeling, painting, creative experimentation. One thing I learned at The Haas Brothers was to dream big and anything was possible. They always stuck to their aesthetic even though it didn’t match what the mainstream art world looked like. I took this to heart and started creating my own work out of ceramics and curated my first art show. I wrangled together some amazing painters and showcased their work alongside some of my large watercolor paintings. I then continued ti work for other artists and designers in the following years to come. I wasn’t creating as much for myself then but I continued to build my skills and materials knowledge. I eventually started teaching ceramics at a studio in Los Angeles and that allowed me to constantly create my own visual language and style in the following years. My work is heavily influenced by ancient sculptural art forms and recent materials knowledge, I’m inspired by the architecture of plants, and natural phenomenon. I choose to highlight these subjects in my works. Late 2019 I quit my job and jan 1st 2020 I took the leap to build m own studio and work exclusively on my art work, I moved back home to start a studio in my parents backyard where it had al started 8 years prior. I slowly scraped together a studio from craigslist. A table here, a slab roller there, I eventually found an affordable kiln in the middle of nowhere for $100. It wa in the middle of an avocado farm but I was determined to score. I could finally fire my very own work, It was a huge moment. I was finally not dependent on other artists studios or communal studios to fire my own work. As soon as everything was looking up march hit, pandemic happened and the world shut down. A few months later my younger sister who was battling cancer for 4 years would soon pass away in the middle of the pandemic. What was supposed to be the best year of my life soon turned to the most tragic year of my life. Morning my sister and sequestered in my home I continued to create, working thorough the loss of my sister, I created from sun up to sundown. I would ask my sister for direction during these confusing times. I eventually started teaching again at Clay_CA, a ceramics studio in Chinatown. The owners Gabi and Justin took me under their wing and in the next few months we became great friends. They were my only community amidst pandemic with the exception of my immediate family. I slowly and safely met other artists trough the studio and formed a strong network of artists through the space. If it wasn’t for them this year would have been a lot harder. Its now 2021 a year later, and I have an insane jungle studio in my backyard, I have a much larger kiln and a kick ass backyard studio most people would dream of. I didn’t come easy and I took everyday as it came. But it’s a testament to how you can still grow during tragedy if you just don’t give up. Due to all of the work I made in 2020, I was able to able to land a gallery show in Paris and I’m currently in the works of being represented by galleries in Los Angeles. I’m very ambitious and want all of my crazy alien sculptures and paintings to be seen by the world. I also want to help my community and give others the same opportunities I’ve worked for or have been given. I’d like to start a communal art studio in Compton that focuses on art, sculpture, gardening, and communal wellness. I’m also obsessed with surfing and running, I’m in the works of starting a Compton Surf Club and Run Club where I sell art oriented streetwear made by myself and collaborated with other of my artist friend to help raise money to buy surfboards and wetsuits for kids and adult from where I am from. My sister who passed of cancer once told me close to the end of her life, ” the trick to life, is being able to stay calm and composed while in the storm, and 100% is possible 100% of the time” If it wasn’t fir her wise words and teachings I may have not continued on my path. I’m eternally grateful to have had her in my life, and I continue to create in her honor.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d take them surfing to el porto or sunset beach in Malibu. I’d take them running somewhere in the mountains of Altadena or id simply make food for them directly from my garden.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a huge shoutout to my friend Eric Saeter. Artist, ceramic artist, jeweler, illustrator., and probably a lot more stuff I don’t know about. He’s made of talent.
Jessica Torres Christina Hernandez