From Silicon Valley to Tokyo, Painter Ian Ross Creates “Hyperorganic” Murals and Installations

When it comes to workspace aesthetics, Silicon Valley’s most talked-about tech companies—Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.—share certain tastes. One is for the vibrant street art–styles of millennial artists like Zio Ziegler and Ian Ross.

In fact, Ross was Facebook’s resident artist in 2011. The San Francisco–based muralist is known for his spontaneity: He approaches his large-scale compositions, in his own words, “without the burden of intention.” His latest works, several of which are on view at Project Gallery in Los Angeles, run the range of tactile installations in Miami to lush, seemingly Art Nouveau–inspired interior murals in Tokyo.

What do these pieces have in common? They all embody Ross’ “hyperorganic” style—a term originally coined by one of Ross’ professors to describe the artist’s potent energy and his vivid, larger-than-life works. It seems particularly relevant to the live-painting practice for which Ross is widely known.

There’s a similar lively quality to his so-called spray-can installations, one of which Ross recently completed for Scope Miami. Window (2015) is an assemblage of candy-colored spray cans neatly ordered into a square, with the varied hues of blue, red, and green loosely arranged into groups. The rainbowlike installation was made from Ross’ own discarded spray cans, which he had used to create some of his famous graffiti-style murals.

Spray paint and acrylic were Ross’ materials of choice for works like Armor (2015) and Voices (2015), shown alongside Window at Project Gallery’s Scope Miami booth. Often, his murals aren’t explosions of color; they’re bold and rich with romantic shapes and curving lines, calling to mind the feathers, leaves, and flowers of an intricate Art Nouveau poster or architectural facade. By his own admission, Ross gets carried away in the artistic process, channeling a variety of inspirations, reacting to the material and changing his own course as he works.

  • A mural by Ian Ross in Tokyo.

It’s this impulsive creative energy that’s made Ross such a hot ticket in his native California and elsewhere. Recently, he’s enjoyed a string of invitations to create murals and installations at spaces as diverse as Wynwood Walls, the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, and the offices of LinkedIn and Facebook. Ross has come a long way from selling his work through social media; now he decorates their headquarters.


Bridget Gleeson


Ian Ross’ work is on view at Project Gallery, Los Angeles.

See more artists from Project Gallery on Artsy.

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