Though Pablo Solomon has been creating art ever since he was a child, he was a late bloomer when it came to sculpting. In fact, he did not start sculpting until he was 50 years old, after a trip to Italy ignited a new passion.
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Upon his return home to Texas Hill Country, he realized it was both blessed and cursed with rock, therefore providing ample raw materials. His inspiration, however, would come from having spent most of his adult life associated with dance and over 40 years studying and creating nudes.
Alyice: Was your first sale as an artist or a sculptor?
Pablo: When I was about 15 years old, I sold of all kinds of art, including model cannons that later sold to a high-end art dealer. I had grown up poor and worked a lot of hard jobs (even as a kid) to make money. Creating art, doing something that I loved, and being able to earn money from it was a great feeling.
Alyice: When were you able to sustain yourself as a sculptor?
Pablo: It has only been about 10 years since I have been able to actually make my living primarily as an artist. Though I’ve been creating and selling art for most of my life, I have had to do all sorts of work (outside of art) to earn a living.
The truth is that Beverly and I have always lived on a variable income. We have the shared values of hard work, disciplined savings, and living below our means. For the entire 35 years of our marriage, we have had to be ready for the ups and downs in the economy.
When the economy hit a downturn, we concentrated on increasing my name recognition and providing extra services to art clients, like art consulting: helping them to decide which of their art to keep or sell, putting buyers and sellers in touch with each other, etc. We have also done more work with charities and partnered with local law enforcement with regards to art theft and scams.
Alyice: When was the turning point for you?
Pablo: The turning point was when my wife Beverly and her dear friend, Marilyn, did a complete makeover on my image as an artist.
Beverly had met Marilyn years earlier when they worked for a French designer. Marilyn was a beautiful and interesting woman who created wonderful photographs of the French villages and countryside she so loved. (You have probably seen her work in hotels and waiting rooms.) They got to talking one day and basically told me that I had to make some changes.
They told me to use my nickname “Pablo” because it would be easily remembered and associated with art. They wanted me to emphasize the fact that I came from a multi-cultural background where several languages were spoken in the same town.
They wanted to me to take more photographs of my work, so they contacted their photographer friends. I now have thousands of photos of me with my work, and models with my work—which is a far cry from my earlier days, when I had almost none at all.
Finally, they encouraged me to do interviews with writers on various subjects. This has resulted in dozens of articles in major books, magazines, newspapers, TV, radio and even a short film for HBO.
In art, success comes from name recognition, not creativity or great work. Name recognition. Collectors are buying autographs.
Alyice: Creating sculptures requires a lot of time, patience, and work. How did you come up with a profitable pricing structure? And how did you put value on your time and skills?
Pablo: I don’t, I leave that to my wife, Beverly.
I grew up poor so I never quite understood just how much money people will spend. Beverly worked as a model and then in sales and marketing for major fashion designers. She understands people with big money so she does the pricing and sales. I stay out of it. She is wonderful at sales.
Alyice: One of the things I admire about your marketing skills is that you get out there and make things happen. Can you share some self-marketing tips with our readers?
Pablo: I cannot emphasize enough the importance being disciplined and tenacious. There are literally millions of people wanting to make a living in art. Every day 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring and half of them want to pursue their dreams in art. Worldwide there are amazing artists working for slave wages.
The biggest mistake most artists make is thinking that they will create some wonderful painting or sculpture, that it will miraculously get the attention of an art dealer-that they will be discovered and become a star. With that kind of thinking, they might as well put their art under their pillows and wait for the art fairy.
The next biggest mistake most artists make is wasting time with other artists. Spend the time creating and self-promoting.
The truth is that the art world is incestuous and nepotistic. While you can buy space here and there and show your work here and there, you will never make anything more than chump change until you meet the right people. Meeting the right people can be as easy as a chance encounter or the result of years of effort.
This is why I am thankful to God. It seems that I was destined to be an artist. There are better artist than I. There are nicer artists than I. But for some reason, God made me an artist and has sustained me. Why me? I have learned not to question blessings, just to be thankful.