Morning Rituals with Monica Galan


Monica Galan, owner of Salamat Ceramics, at her studio in Los Angeles

   

We first met Monica Galan at our mutual friends' restaurant, Woon Kitchen, in Historic Filipinotown here in Los Angeles. It was only later that we realized she's the founder and artist behind Salamat Ceramics, which we had been fans of for awhile!

So we were very excited when Monica agreed to develop a mug for Canyon Coffee. She worked closely with Ally to develop what would become the Sequoia Mug, enabling us to make decisions on all the elements from shape and handle style to colors and glaze. 

From the beginning of the process and as we learned more about her, we were inspired by Monica's story just as we were by her work. We felt more people would feel the same, and so we are excited to share our interview along with photos taken by our friend Justin Chung when he and Ally went to visit Monica while making the Sequoia Mugs. Enjoy!

 

Monica Galan of Salamat Ceramics

 

Do you have a morning ritual? Has it changed over time?

My rituals are constantly changing depending on the lighting, my energy level, and work flow. I’ll break it down into my most common scenarios: 

  1. Pop right out of bed ready for the day. Hop in the shower. Breakfast, coffee, answer emails, and straight into the studio or personal errands, vice versa. 
  1. Snooze button a few times. Turn the kettle on. Walk thru the backyard to the studio in my PJs. Check on the kiln and the state of my work. Make coffee. Eat breakfast and hop back in the studio. 
  1. Lay in bed. Admire life and nothingness. Soak the morning light shining through. Check off my to do list in my head. Coffee. Breakfast. Studio. 
  1. Make a smoothie or grab a quick health bar and take a workout class at home, head out for a hike or play tennis. 

One morning ritual I miss more than anything is being woken up with morning kisses from my dog Otis. Letting him out into the yard and feeding him. Taking him to the park or on a walk…. that’s a recent change that I must share because I think about him everyday since we’ve had to say goodbye. 

  

Ally Walsh of Canyon Coffee and Monica Galan of Salamat Ceramics in Highland Park, CA

 

How did you get started with ceramics? And what has your path been like from that beginning to where you are today?

When I moved to Newport Beach, CA and in with my partner in 2015 I needed an outlet...something to do after my 9-5 job, aside from going on a walk, grabbing a drink, etc. I’ve always had interest in ceramics, never had worked with it at all, and took my first ceramics class in Oct 2015. Eventually, I became a studio member, having full 24/7 access. Months after I started selling my pieces and by that April I sold table vases to my first restaurant, Pueblo. This gave me the confidence that anything is possible if you put yourself out there and work hard enough. 

Ceramics became a big priority of mine and a proper side hustle. I have always worked a 9-5 job in conjunction with Salamat. I would take product shots on my lunch breaks at the park, commute 2-3 hours a day after work to get things done at the studio, juggle multiple commissioned projects and produce just enough product to have a presence at craft fairs. 

I wanted Salamat to be a lucrative business that reflected my creativity and morals, but I knew I had to wait until the time was right, not knowing if it ever were it come. I had always tried to earn a job title and the respect of others in the industries that I had worked in and I finally realized, none of it mattered to me. 

  Salamat Ceramics in the home of Monica Galan

 

It’s been a little over a year since I decided to resign from my job and commit myself to ceramics. Since then I had left my shared studio space in Long Beach, Clay on First, where I met an amazing group of people. We remain great friends and have continued to be a support system for one another.

I now work out of my home studio in Highland Park and am continuing to grow my business, partnerships, accomplish dreams, and have a clear path for what I want next. 

  Ally Walsh and Monica Galan having coffee in Highland Park

   

What has it been like running your own business? Is it challenging to don both the manager and artist roles? Or, in other words, balance the left and right sides of the brain?

Running Salamat has been challenging, liberating, fun, stressful, and of course scary. Being a one gal show is challenging in the sense that I always try to take on everything myself. 

I’m always learning to work with new materials, shapes and forever practicing my work, life balance. I can be a pretty harsh critic about some of the work I create, but also know that I have to let the little things go in order to move forward. 

I’d like to think I’m disciplined as the process of ceramics itself is pretty demanding. Each week is different. I’ve trained myself to keep a production calendar to make sure things are continuously moving because I’m orchestrating so many moving parts. I plan for the month and break it down by week. I set monthly sales goals to challenge myself. I think about content, marketing, partnerships, and product design most of my days while trying to deliver on time. Needless to say, it’s a hell of a lot work, but the end of the day I’m super thankful to be in a position to have my own business and create objects with my hands that make people happy.

Monica Galan hand-throwing pottery on the wheel at Salamat Ceramics

 

Had you always want to be an artist? 

No, I felt creative in different ways, but never had a solid form of expression. Taking photos and cooking was something I enjoyed, but not enough to pursue to be above average. I grew up skateboarding at a young age and was sponsored between the age 13 – 18. It took me a long time to find something that I was passionate and excited about, something to teach me discipline and creativity in another way. I feel ceramics naturally worked for me because I was so driven to practice and inspired to learn.

 

Salamat Ceramics pottery wheel in Highland Park, Los Angeles

 

Have you picked up any new interests or pursuits since the start of the pandemic?

I started playing tennis, camping way more, and fishing. 

  

Monica Galan, founder of Salamat Ceramics, enjoying her cup of Canyon Coffee

 

Have you had any reflections on things that have continued to serve you well through this time, or things that you’ve let go of? 

 I feel that my relationships with people, friends and family have grown exponentially during this time. To constantly check in on those, I love, to see how I can help in anyway, and to speak up...I’ve always tried to live by these pillars in life, but I think now more than ever people need any type of support or light. 

 Something I’ve let go of is feeling of the need to share everything on social media or having “ fomo” because at the end of the day… does it really matter hahhah

  

Salamat Ceramics, made in Highland Park, Los Angeles

 

Monica Galan pouring coffee for Ally Walsh, owner of Canyon Coffee

  

How do you find new inspiration?

I research new materials within the industry and different techniques used in other cultures that I can maybe apply to my work in some form. 

  

Canyon Coffees' Sequoia Mugs before glazing at Salamat Ceramics studio in Los Angeles  

I pay attention to my surroundings as well as take note of shapes, lighting, textures, and colors while watching movies, skimming through photos and books.

International travel was a big part of my inspiration. I find inspiration with going to museums, admiring the architecture/interiors and cuisine of other cultures. Another outlet of mine is to camp, clear my mind and soak in the landscape. 

 

How do you find new inspiration?

I research new materials within the industry and different techniques used in other cultures that I can maybe apply to my work in some form. 

I pay attention to my surroundings as well as take note of shapes, lighting, textures, and colors while watching movies, skimming through photos and books. International travel was a big part of my inspiration. I find inspiration with going to museums, admiring the architecture/interiors and cuisine of other cultures. Another outlet of mine is to camp, clear my mind and soak in the landscape. 

  

Still life photos of the ceramicist studio at Salamat Ceramics

  

The home kitchen of Monica Galan, founder of Salamat Ceramics

  


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