We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Wolchin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
When I was young I was exposed to art shows, concerts and foreign films. All of my family are readers. That helped my imagination get developed by reading a lot. Also my exposure to many different cultures. That lead to my attraction for art and music. I was maybe 13 or 14 when I saw some skateboards at a store and I thought I could do better. I was making wood skateboards from wood shop at school circa 1964. I gave some of them to my friends. It put an itch in me to make stuff. Music is my bliss. When I would listen to music when I was young, I would imagine how I would make the song sound. I was interested in music production. I was exposed to recording sessions and live music and I got the bug. In the early eighties I had the opportunity to be in the commercial recording business and I went for it. I had some friends that were ceramic potters that I lived with in early 70’s. They made beautiful custom plates with very unique glazes. I learned how to throw. It was very satisfying to take a piece of clay and form it from nothing into something. It was very empowering at the time. Little did I know I would one day own a custom ceramic tile factory on the same named street as the house that I was living in at the time. The universe has plans for us we can’t see. I have always enjoyed creating, it’s part of my DNA. Those of us who have the desire to express our vision of art in all its beautiful shapes and forms have a unique gift. We are creating just like the universe is doing every moment.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am in the ceramic tile business. My company is Busby-Gilbert Tile . We are one of very few companies still making custom ceramic tile in the U.S.A. We have been making tile since 1975 in Van Nuys, CA. Our tile is produced at a very high temperature, making our products very strong and durable. This enables our customers to use it in many different applications. Like many companies that have been in business as long as ours, we have had many ups and downs. “How did I overcome the challenges?” With a lot of patience and tenacity – not easy, but I had too. It taught me not to give up easily and regroup when things don’t turn out the way I thought it would. There is much more material to choose from these days that did not exist 40 years ago (i.e. stone, marble, cement glass and cheap tile made in other countries). Although these materials have made our slice of the pie smaller, we have survived because we make superior one of a kind tile no one else makes on the planet.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
We would go to different ethnic restaurants all over town. Downtown in the Central Market there is a wide variety of food from all over the world. Maybe go to Korea town for some BBQ. We would try something different everyday. There are so many good places to eat. I don’t have a favorite. We would go up the coast for ride probably to Santa Barbara. Check the scene there. Mom’s Italian Village is a great place in S.B. They have been there since 1930. L.A. has a great music scene. We would check it out. There are museums that are always having exhibits. The Getty and LACMA both eye catching places to visit. I would take them to Venice Beach and Hollywood just for the experience.
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?
My family, friends and mentors have helped me in so many ways. I have been inspired, motivated and given moral support by so many people. That said. I would like to mention two dear friends whom I meet very early on when I first bought Busby-Gilbert Tile. Joe Koons and Bill Lisonbee. Both of them are looking down from heaven and helping me. Joe was the technical advisor for Laguna Clay and Bill was the glaze chemist for Laguna Clay. Joe helped me learn the business. Bill mentored me how to make glazes. I doubt I would have survived in my business without their guidance and support.
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