In 1994 a dream came to fruition. The world of graffiti and aerosol-based art witnessed the birth of Montana Colors in Barcelona, Spain. Fast forward to today, and that dream continues to expand far beyond Spain to half way around the world in the sprawling metropolis that is Los Angeles, California. Known for its scenic landscapes, temperate weather and, of course Hollywood - Los Angeles has long been recognized as a mecca for those seeking fame, fortune and notoriety. Building on those big city ideals, in July 2018, Montana Colors opened their first United States based flagship location within the Los Angeles Arts District: Montana Shop L.A.
Montana Shop LA and The Los Angeles Arts District
Location, location, location. This is the ever present mantra in real estate, and definitely influenced why Montana Colors picked the downtown LA Arts District! The Los Angeles Arts District’s boundaries span from: First Street to the north; Seventh Street to the south; the infamous L.A. River on the east; and Alameda Street as the western border. The area has industrial roots as one of the original major economic hubs for the area consisting of manufacturing and agricultural related industry right next to downtown Los Angeles. After World War II the area shifted as many of the companies moved their business overseas or were no longer in operation. The results? A ghost town of vacant industrial spaces and abandoned warehouses throughout the area.
Starting in the late 1970’s, this downtown neighborhood became home to a growing number of artists due to an abundance of large cheap working spaces. Artists moved in and transformed these abandoned spaces into workable art studios. By the 1980’s, the artist population gained recognition from the city of Los Angeles and the “Artist in Residence” ordinance was passed. This ordinance allowed artists to live and work full-time in buildings that had previously been used for industrial purposes. This lead to a huge influx of artists from all over the city of Los Angeles into the arts district where their creative work began to creep out of their isolated seep out of their studio spaces into the neighborhood streets for display.
Within the last 5 years the Los Angeles Arts District has been the focus of a huge urban renewal effort that has seen an huge movement into the neighborhood of artistic entrepreneurs and art-enthusiasts alike. Moreover, with gallery spaces and art-centered venues like The Container Yard, the Arts District area has become a hotbed of activity for all things inspirational, creative and artistic.
The Container Yard and Montana Store LA
Nestled in the epicenter of the Los Angeles Downtown Arts District sits The Container Yard (TCY). This uniquely creative space gets its name from the massive shipping containers it houses on the property. All of the shipping containers have been modified by artists and in some cases re-purposed for a variety of different uses including art displays, retail spaces and agricultural purposes.
Located just off Alameda Street on the corner of Fourth Street, this massive space has been an neighborhood cornerstone since its initial life as a manufacturing plant. Originally occupied by a Japanese ice cream company, around 2013 Ash and Anthony (new co-owners of TCY), re-envisioned the space. Realizing the ultimate potential of The Container Yard, Ash and Anthony focused first on developing the space as a gallery/venue for neighboring artists, creatives and businesses to display work and host events.
In the Summer of 2018, The Container Yard (TCY) took its next step forward. It finally launched the retail strategy of the space adding a mixture of different shops and services. Rather than just being open during special events TCY’s doors now open to the general public on a daily basis. Some of shops and services operating in TCY include a small coffeeshop, a barbershop, a Mixed Martial Arts studio, a floral nursery, and of course, Montana Shop: Los Angeles.
Inside Montana Shop: L.A.
With a history rich in artistry and creative expression that parallels the Arts District, it makes sense that Montana Colors selected this particular Los Angeles neighborhood to open its first USA flagship store. Located directly on the corner of Fourth Street and Seaton Street and enshrined in a vibrant mural by artist Ricky Watts, Montana Shop L.A. greets each passerby with a plethora of color, energy, and warmth that invites them inside to explore their own creativity.
Once inside the Montana Shop L.A., the modern city aesthetic from the surrounding Arts District area continues almost seamlessly. Complete with urinals (non-functional of course) and tiled area for patrons to leave their mark, this bathroom inspired installation offers a uniquely interactive experience of being a graffiti writer with out the danger of being caught. Just don’t expect your tag to “run” for too long, though. The installation is periodically “buffed”, or cleaned, allowing new tags to run and ensuring patrons the opportunity to experience this aspect of graffiti.
The Montana Shop L.A. is your one-stop shop for all graffiti supplies. It goes without saying that they carry all the paint lines that Montana Colors produces: MTN 94; MTN HARDCORE; MTN SPEED; MEGA COLORS; NITRO 2G; MAD MAXXX; MTN MAXIMO; PRO; ALIEN; POCKET; and WATERBASE cans.v
Whereas most art stores in LA have their spray cans locked up in a cage, Montana Shop LA took a more unique approach. Out in the open with no wiring to hide the vibrant colors of over 500+ colors of spraypaint, artists and creatives are able to carefully select their color palette with the help of a store employee. Montana Shop LA was extremely careful to install bright white light throughout the store so that you can accurately visually inspect each color hue before making your decision.
Along with the widest selection of Montana Spray Paint in Los Angeles, Montana Shop LA also has an extensive marker section showcasing MTN 94 Graphic Markers, MTN Waterbase markers, and the MTN Street Paint/Ink dabbers and drippers. Next to the markers there is a full selection of blackbooks, gloves, the Montana Systems miniature trains, the Montana Wall-to-Wall miniature brick walls, paint refills for the markers and even MTN apparel!
While the majority of the products sold at Montana Shop: L.A. are produced and distributed by Montana Colors, they are not limited to only MTN Colors products. The shop also carries markers, drippers, and streaks from known graffiti brands such as: KRINK, Sakura, and uniPOSCA. You will find what you are looking for at Montana Shop: Los Angeles!
Behind the Counter at Montana Shop LA
So who is running the show at Montana Shop: Los Angeles? A small but knowledgeable team consisting of Lucia Morales (known as Lucy) and Rosemberg Dario (or Rosé) can help you sort out the proper materials and colors for any size project. Each has their own set of skills and personal experiences that, when combined, make them a vital asset to Montana Shop: Los Angeles.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Lucia Morales is a proud native Angeleno. She is also an avid photographer and even dabbles in videography and zinemaking. She is driven by her passion to document everything and anything that peaks her interest, with a special focus on graffiti and everything that comes with the lifestyle.
Rounding out the team, Rosemberg Dario brings much more to the table than just food and his appetite. Having spent several years running another graffiti-based shop in the Los Angeles area, he is no stranger to graffiti products and the clientele. He is knowledgeable, approachable, and will even suggest a good place or two for you to eat!
Visiting Montana Shop LA
If you live or visit the Los Angeles area, you would do yourself a favor by visiting Montana Shop: Los Angeles (located at 400 Seaton Street, Los Angeles CA 90013 within The Container Yard). Whether you need paint, markers, spray caps, accessories or apparel - there is so much to see at the shop, The Container Yard and the entire Los Angeles Arts District. Free parking, friendly staff and authentic vibes in a one-stop graffiti shop amidst an urban landscape; who could ask for more?