We had the good fortune of connecting with Ian Robertson-Salt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ian, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
From a fairly young age, I knew I wouldn’t be happy working a regular 9-5 job. As a kid I was really into skateboarding and bmx and actually wanted to have my own clothing brand someday. Later, I realized that dream came from my enjoyment of creating designs for graphic t-shirts. As I grew older, I struggled to find a path in community college and basically took every art and design class available with the hopes that if I built enough skills in different areas I would be able to have a job or career in a creative field. After taking classes in sociology, humanities, and anthropology I decided that I wanted to be a muralist and create public art that inspires others. While attending University I worked as a mural conservator for different non-profit organizations and the City of Long Beach, which was sort of an arts education in and of itself. After graduating college I worked multiple art jobs doing all kinds of things, which I enjoyed but still wasn’t feeling fulfilled because I was working for other people for a paycheck instead of for myself. I knew that the only way I would truly be happy is if I created my own path doing what makes me happy, which was hard because I enjoy doing so many different things from painting, graphic design, tattooing, and public art. It took quite a bit of risk to achieve the balance I currently have between those different things but I am extremely thankful that I did.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art mostly focuses on relationships between people and their environment. My paintings often explore the natural world through images of animals and nature interacting with man-made constructions depicted through abstract geometry. Some of my favorite topics include endangered species, climate change, and how people interact with their surroundings. I enjoy carrying these themes into my murals as well, but I also enjoy creating murals based around history and other social themes. I haven’t been doing as much mural conservation work in recent years, but still welcome the opportunity to restore and conserve murals when possible. One of the biggest risks I took was to do my tattoo apprenticeship at June Jung Art. Apprenticeships are unpaid, and at the time I was managing a youth based mural program, so I wasn’t really making money off my art but I was able to paint regularly and make enough to survive while learning a new craft. It paid off in the end because now I am a resident artist at June Jung Art and get to paint murals and participate in gallery shows as well. Ive been able to start carrying over my personal artwork into tattoo designs which has been amazing and I am extremely grateful to have such trusting clients. Overall, I learned that if you want something, you really have to take risks to make it happen. Its definitely not easy and it takes a lot of hard work, but if you’re really passionate about it, it won’t feel like work.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well having grown up in Los Angeles, I definitely have my preferences on where to go. For someone who is not familiar with in L.A. I would take them on a mural tour and show them some of my favorite public art pieces from Downtown LA, Hollywood, and Venice Beach. The food is amazing in L.A., there’s nothing you can’t find (at least in the pre-pandemic days). I would check out sushi in little tokyo, LuckyBoy for a breakfast burrito, West LA for Ramen, and San Gabriel Valley has some of the best Vietnamese and Chinese food. You can get a great street taco almost anywhere in the city and there are amazing fusion restaurants that blend all of the above sprinkled all over the place. My favorite hikes are in the San Gabriel mountains, if you go to Mt Echo or Inspiration Point the day after it rains, you can see all of Southern California. For anyone visiting L.A., Venice Beach and Hollywood are always a good time. Theres so much to do and see, you really would need more than a week.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are quite a few people who have supported me along the way. My family have always been incredibly supportive which made a huge difference. Isabel Rojas-Williams I consider to be my first mentor when I worked for the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, and she is still an incredibly supportive friend. I don’t know what id be doing now if she had not given me a job all those years ago. Others include Carlos Rogel at the Social Public Art Resource Center, Craig Stone, Heather Green, Artshare LA, Georgia van Cuylenburg, and certainly June Jung and Rob Redcay who own the amazing tattoo shop that I work at currently.