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Meet Ian Aguilar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ian Aguilar.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ian. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started my career in art not by making art but whilst developing a permaculture company based out of Compton with one of my friends. I saw a disparity of fresh organic food available to our community. So I figured I’m growing food for myself already in my backyard why not do it for the community? Long story short, we tried our best to launch our permaculture design company but the cities and schools made it very difficult to even break ground. Discouraged, we began teaching classes in my backyard in Compton. To our surprise, people actually came! From as far as Oregon! Despite the event being about permaculture and food sustainability, I enjoyed driving around the city looking for used pallets to turn into furniture for our upcoming classes. I enjoyed working with power tools and designing furniture. That being said, I began applying to art and design colleges. LA Food Forest- our permaculture collective, eventually took a break and we all went our separate ways. I looked for design jobs on craigslist and applied to work as a fine art fabricator for The Haas Brothers in Los Angeles. I applied to their internship position at the time but as they were expanding their team, I eventually got hired on to their team as a full-time fabricator.

This is where my love for art and design really flourished. I haphazardly stumbled into an amazing world of fine art, design. In the few years I worked for The Haas Brothers, I learned furniture making, casting, mold making, ceramics, and many other skills. I eventually went on to work for other prominent artists and designers for the rolling years. However, I was not producing much of my own work which I felt was taking a toll on my creative spirit. I eventually choose ceramics as my medium of focus. Looking to get back into ceramics full-time, I was offered a teaching position at a ceramic studio in Los Angeles. I jumped at the opportunity although I was already working at two restaurants and assisting for an artist at the time, not to mention creating my own ceramic work all at the same time. Spread completely thin but content, I pushed on until I was no longer assisting artists nor working at restaurants. I made a complete leap into being a full-time artist at the beginning of 2020. Keep in mind I have been making ceramics since 2009 and fabricating sculpture, ceramics, and furniture for over seven years for Artists all over Los Angeles.

I left Silverlake where I was living at the time and moved back to my parent’s house in Compton to start my own ceramic studio in the back yard. Filled with trash and old appliances. I cleared everything out and only an old carport was left which would be the new roof of my studio. I began scrounging tools and equipment off of craigslist. Slowly after a few months, I put together a fully function ceramics studio in my parent’s backyard. Right, when I was at the beginning of creating my first series of professional work COVID-19 happened and my younger sister passed away of cancer. I was completely devastated but knew that art was my only way out of this. My sister was one of my biggest inspirations and had told me she was proud she was of me for taking this enormous and blind leap to becoming a professional artist. So amidst a pandemic and living in the wake of my sisters passing. I managed to put together a website, – My personal art site and another site called ceramics anonymous which focus on highlight undiscovered rad artists. I worked with a friend to photograph all of my work and process and slapped it on my site. Boom I’m an “artist” right? My ceramic work straddles both functional art and sculptural art/Fine art.

My sculptural art is currently inspired by flora. I make ceramic alien plant sculptures. Imagine you land on an alien planet and you find crazy cool plants with psychedelic colors and patterns. I’m also currently teaching and helping out at Clay CA in Chinatown. They have also been an instrumental asset in my current growth. Gabi and Justin – Owners are the best human beings and I’m truly grateful to have them in my ceramics community wheelhouse. As my ceramics grow and become more complex as does my garden. I’ve revitalized that permaculture garden that started it all. I’m now producing enough food to feed my family, neighbors, and friends healthy and fresh vegetables from my small urban farm which also happened to be right next to my ceramics studio. That being said my art and my passion for food sustainability in Southern Los Angeles has come full circle. I’m currently looking for grants to start a “sculpture Garden” in Compton where it would function as a large-scale community garden with large-scale sculpture, which also focuses on teaching kids and adults from the neighborhood ceramics, gardening, and other art practices. I look forward to improving my community with art, love, food, and creative problem-solving.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There has been many personal and environmental challenges getting to where I am at today. I didn’t grow up well to do like many of my artist colleagues. So financial independence has always been a challenge. I’ve always had to work to support myself and my art practice. Working for other Artists is a challenge because you take on so much of who they are and think for them essentially in producing their art for them. You’re then too emotionally and creatively exhausted to even produce your own work. Which is why a lot of fabricators stay fabricators and never move on to actualize their actual art dream and become more of an unseen supporting act of this bigger art enterprise. COVID has been a challenge for apparent reasons. Also, losing my sister due to cancer two months ago has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to endure in my life. However, if it wasn’t for my sister I wouldn’t be where I am at today.

Please tell us more about your art.
I specialize in ceramic art. Both functional ceramic art and ceramic sculpture. I’m proud of all that I’ve overcome to get to this point. I felt it was impossible to get to this point for so long. Now that I’ve built my studio and started producing work under my name, now there isn’t going back. I feel free!

My sense of design and personal aesthetic sets me apart from most artists. My culture, where I’m from, in conjunction with my creativity and technical expertise, gives my work the flavor and soul lots of art lacks.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Hanging out with my grandpa who was also an artist. Playing guitar with him or helping him with his paintings.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Photographer: Carlos Quintero

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