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The Hustle

Name: Mark Wabol (Hot Metal Designs)

Posted By Rachel Honey

Mark Wabol keeps both function and fashion in mind when welding art, from simple wall hanging pieces to big sculptures. His favorite thing about St. Pete is how the local art scene is packed with an array of unique skillsets and trades. Wabol especially enjoys working with other craftsmen, like woodworkers and interior designers. He first learned how to weld when customizing cars, but now, he uses his welding knowledge to create metal art for homes and businesses. Recently, he created a table base to resemble tree branches, a privacy fence with a gingerbread cookie design for a preschool, and a brass banana leaf chandelier.

Years in Tampa Bay

25. I moved from the suburbs of Chicago to Treasure Island in the ’90s and I’ve been smitten ever since.

Hustle (job)

Chief Welding Officer of Hot Metal Designs

What do you do?  

I’m a welder by trade. I and build functional metal pieces as well as metal sculptures through private and public commissions. Among several new projects with local St. Pete business owners, I’m working on a couple of pieces for the new Slyce restaurant that’s due to open by Postcard Inn soon, my third for their other beach locations. I just finished a project with Lisa Gilmore Design. Lots of work, lots of fun. With my work, photos and IRL does way more justice than text.

Why do you do it?

(1) Designing and building art pieces for homes and businesses is so gratifying. (2) Being in charge of my schedule and paycheck was initially scary when I first started out but has become fulfilling over the years. (3) To buy more machines and tools. I built a 1,900 square foot workshop that needs to be filled to the brim.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

My catalyst was a strong desire to take my welding skills way beyond a factory line; to do something I’m passionate about and create amazing art people love. To be the owner of my own destiny.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

Art’s hard! I use more math and fractions than I ever imagined to design big, sound metal sculptures.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

Being a sole proprietor. I have a long list of projects and only two hands to create all the work to be done. I’m still growing my business so I can’t afford help just yet. But my goal is to grow big enough for assistance.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

(1) Be patient. I’ve learned from seasoned successful artists that building a business and clientele requires patience and hard work. Success doesn’t happen overnight, especially with art. (2) Be confident. I’ve learned the hard way to have confidence in my skills when bidding on projects.

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