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Meet Ruben Rojas in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ruben Rojas.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born and have spent my entire life living in Los Angeles. I love this city and continue to enjoy living in it the more that I travel and see the world. I played multiple sports growing up and took my studies seriously. I played football in college and received my BS in Kinesiology. At one point I was on track to become an orthopedic surgeon, but life took me elsewhere. I had a career in real estate where I made and lost everything and then rebuilt myself in the financial services sector. In between, all of that I always had art it was just not quite at the forefront. Everything in my life has led me to this moment and lead me to the path of art and what I can do with my art. Business has played a significant role in my life and has helped support me as an artist.

Although I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with some fantastic brands and to create art all over the world, I am not a classically trained artist. In school, I was always more of a science nerd and had plans of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. I enjoyed to create art and doodle, but I never considered that it could be a career for me. Post-college I worked in real estate, but in 2008 that came crashing down and I lost absolutely everything. I worked hard to rebuild through financial planning and insurance sales, and while I was grateful for a career where I could help others and sustain myself, I did not feel fulfilled. There was still something more significant to be a way that I can impact and create more change, and that was public art.

I spent a lot of time looking to be successful in traditional career paths, but after the real estate crash, my personal and professional drive changed. I felt less driven by money and other more superficial things and was more driven by the impact I had on others and helping to create real value in my life and other people’s lives as well. Over the next several years I began to reverse engineer my career, and I found a lot of peace through art. After painting my first mural, I have slowly built a creative career while working full-time. I hit a plateau in my life and took a leap of faith and pursued art full-time.

I love to paint and to create, and it’s been fun to have the opportunity to travel all over the world to paint and interact with other people. I am inspired by other creatives who work hard to improve our communities through technology, art, and social good. I am excited for the growth and evolution of my work and to continue to work at the intersection of public art and human health.

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?
The biggest obstacle in my business has been myself. Until you fully commit to what you are doing and trust yourself, you may never know your full potential. I love the process and within the process lies the struggle and the beauty. It all fits together in this roller coaster we call life. Every day is different bringing a new set of challenges, whether it is a permitting issue, the client changes their mind, or I may be stuck creatively. What keeps me grounded is my foundation. I wake up every morning read some stoic philosophy and head to the gym after that I take my day moment by moment.

Ruben Rojas – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a muralist but much more than just that, I use art as my medium to create change in our environments. I am known mostly for my artwork and my commitment to community building through my creative projects. I enjoy working with people from the neighborhood or cities where my art will be displayed. I love having the opportunity to create art that can impact large numbers of people every day.

Aside from building a specific style of art and brand, I am much more than an artist. What sets me apart is the intention behind my work. My drive and purpose are to open people up to a possibility, of seeing life through another lens. Sometimes we wake up and would rather go back to bed and bury our heads in the pillow, for a variety of reasons. But what if when we wake up, we see the other side, yes maybe we do have to sit in traffic for hours, to go to a job you may or may not hate with the result being you have a roof over your head and food on the table. I am not saying to sacrifice one for the other but instead be grateful for that opportunity. Or perhaps you feel ugly today, and you come across the “You Are Beautiful” mural, and it invites you to own your beauty. Or maybe you are doubting your existence and self-worth but stumble across “You Belong Here” and realize your worth and purpose. As an artist, I have the ability and responsibility to create impact through my work.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment in my career has been diving in head first and believing in myself. Over time as I continue to create both public and private art I began to see a pattern in what I was creating. My work is an invitation for the viewer to see the world through another lens. The majority of my work is me speaking to myself and since we are all mirrors to each other than maybe it resonates and talks to someone else.

I can have a conversation with a single person, a group of people or speak to a large crowd by using the streets as my canvas I can talk to 30, 40, 50 thousand people that pass by these walls on any given day. People that I may never meet in person and potentially get to interact with them via social media. When I see my work shared and hear about how it makes someone feel that means everything to me. I love interacting with them and talking to them about the intention behind the mural. That is what fuels me and keeps me going.

Besides that my work led me to be referred to and invited to speak at TEDx Venice Beach late last year. I talked about the impact that my work creates in the community and within people. Art is a great healer and can immediately elicit an emotional and physical response from within you.

I have also been able to support other causes through my art. Earlier this year I painted a couple of mural at the Los Angeles Zoo and donated a piece of art for their annual Beastly Ball. They invited me up on stage to speak and talk about the painting that was auctioned, which then sold and raised 40,000 dollars for the zoo. I am still in shock and funny enough that morning I had asked my fiancé, “Do you think the piece will sell?”

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Image Credit:
Tyler Church Haggstrom
Annie Janssen

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