Interview with Monica Galan of Salamat Ceramics — a ceramic studio based in Los Angeles, California.
What drew you to clay, and how did your practice begin?
I always had an intense curiosity about how handcrafted things were made. I was drawn to ceramics as the thought of making something out of dirt using your hands. In 2015 I moved in with my partner, from LA to Orange County. It was a big change for me and allowed me to create a clear head space for myself without all the social distractions and obligations since most of my friends were living in LA. I wanted a creative outlet to fill my time and so I took my first class at Muddy Studio. I signed up for the 2 month session, and soon after became a member. It became an obsessive hobby and I shortly began selling pieces to friends and then restaurants in a few short months.
2. Your work is situated both in the realm of function and non-function; what are your thoughts on the role of function within your work?
I like most of my pieces to have function, sometimes multiple. I think it allows people the chance to flex their creativity and what they see the piece being used for.
3. Where in the natural world do you draw inspiration from?
Most of my inspiration is drawn from nature. When I go camping and hiking I feel like that's when my mind is most clear and open to ideas. I enjoy the textures and color palette of the landscape, the layers of trees and facades of the rocks. I'm drawn to clay's natural rawness and I love its simplicity and unforgivingness, seeing its markings throughout the process. My favorite place to clear my mind are the Sierras and most of all the spots along the 395 Highway. While the forests and valleys have my heart, so does the desert, especially Utah.
4. How do you envision your work changing over time?
I think my work will be changing alongside my life changes. Salamat Ceramics had become a business very quickly, from a side hustle to a full time job. I was rolling with the punches to keep up with customer demand and only squeezing in my creative yearnings when I could, calling those higher tiered pieces, Studio. Salamat Studio has allowed me to experiment, flex my creativity and liberate myself from the monotonous production work. I created a dancing balance between production and the work that I find fulfilling, allowing space for cool things with friends and brands I admire, like teaming up with LoQ and sharing one of a kind pieces, and having a private coursed dinner party with Woon with handmade custom dinnerware. While I do think my work has changed over time already, I know that I haven't been able to really explore new techniques I have learned over the years. I'll be having a brief moment of pause to myself in a few months and can't wait to take advantage of the time to plan out Salamat's future and fine tune this balancing act.