The building is surrounded by bucolic green space and emerging residential developments, and it might be impossible to guess that from within its walls its dozens of employees work each day to fill orders for clients throughout the world, including several famous artists.
While Salazar’s clients include prominent figures in the art world—Amado Pena, Deborah Roberts, Jane Hunt and Louise LeBourgeois to name a few—
Salazar’s company, now called Ampersand Art Supply, was born in 1993 as Ampersand. Salazar and three other students at the University of Texas Austin created a business plan for the company that in 1994 ended up operating out of a warehouse on East Fourth Street in Austin.
Ampersand Art Supply eventually moved to its current location at 1235 S. Loop 4 in Buda, where it has been operating since 2013.
The main product Ampersand creates, mainly out of the warehouse in Buda, are art panels, which are surfaces for artists to create their art. The company has several product lines, from the Gessobord, which is best for oils and acrylics, to the Claybord, which works well for inks, pencil, airbrush and other mediums.
Salazar said the way people and companies purchase art supplies has changed considerably since the early ’90s.
“When we started, the art supply industry was fairly robust, and there were hundreds of retailers throughout the country,” she said. “So we ... sell primarily through distributors and large clients, and a lot of the small art supply stores have gone away. And I don’t know what’s going to happen with COVID[-19].”
Though the world of art supply purchases has largely consolidated, Salazar said, Ampersand has maintained a healthy client base, and beyond the U.S. has distributors in the U.K, Germany, Australia and Mexico.
“We created a category for this industry,” she said. “The panel market didn’t exist until we created it. So, we are the leading manufacturer of art panels for artists to paint on in the world.”
Ampersand Art Supply
1235 S. Loop 4, Buda