Art was something that Sal Elias of Riverside, California, did for fun. Making money off of his talent was never something that he thought could happen, but he began pursuing that route when he became a father at the age of twenty. At sixteen, he had already begun airbrushing T-shirts out of his parent’s house. “I used to see people airbrush T-shirts at the swap meet and thought to myself, ‘I could do that.'” That wasn’t the only time that Sal crossed paths with the art of airbrushing; there was an airbrush artist that lived on his block, and he caught Sal’s eye. “He used to airbrush murals on lowriders, and I was just amazed by them,” Sal recalls with a smile.
Sal began using his airbrush on Harleys, and he also began airbrushing lowriders on the side. With two jobs Sal had very little family time. “I didn’t see my kids that much with both jobs,” he explains. In 2008, Sal made a gutsy decision and made the move to become a fulltime artist. “I came from a traditional Mexican home, so I never really got support to keep pursing my art from my family. They just never saw it as a job,” says the painter. Luckily for Sal, he had a sizeable clientele that kept him busy with job after job.
Before long, Sal had done a lot of murals in the lowrider scene, and many of his clients and admirers began asking him if he also did tattoos. At the time, he didn’t, but he knew it would be a smart move for him to learn as he had a lot of people asking. Tattooing didn’t come easy to Sal, either. He jumped right into it, but it wasn’t until he started working with Abey Alvarez at his shop that things finally came together.
His airbrushing has now taken a back seat to his tattooing; a move Sal is grateful for. Now that he has built his own tattoo clientele, he has finally been able to open up his schedule more for family time. You can see more of Sal on facebook.com/SalElias or on Instagram @Sal_Elias.