You may not recognize Dominique Martinez’s name, but chances are good that you have seen the work of the welding artist and his company, Rustic Steel Creations.
He created the bull’s head made from kitchen utensils that overlooks the bar at Vizcaya Restaurante and Tapas Bar in Carrollwood. Rustic Steel Creations is responsible for the 10-foot dog and cat sculptures made from found objects at Busch Gardens. Popular restaurants, such as Holy Hog Barbecue and downtown Tampa’s Ulele, prominently feature Martinez’s metal fabrications, and the Oxford Exchange is filled with the company’s bronze work.
One piece Martinez is especially proud of is the two-thirds scale replica of a P-51 Mustang commemorating Drew Field, which hangs in the lobby of the tax collector’s office in Drew Park, but as far as his favorite piece, Martinez is more evasive.
“I don’t think I’ve made it yet,” he said.
A lifelong artist, Martinez learned welding and metal fabrication and started making mirror frames from steel. A designer hired him to create steel gates and railings for a high-end home. Word of mouth led to more residential work, which led to commercial work in restaurants and hotels. Martinez credits the success of his company, which started as a one-man operation in 2002, to his artistic nature.
“I studied art for quite some time and it gave me a knowledge of the different styles, periods and artists,” Martinez said. “We can cover anything from the Renaissance to art deco, art nouveau, mid-century modern and very contemporary designs.
“We do all-custom metal fabrication for high-end homes and restaurants and hotels, as well as public and private art. We are able to design and create whatever the client’s needs are and our objective is to exceed their expectations. What we are really known for is thinking outside the box.”
The reputation that Rustic Steel Creations has built extends beyond the Tampa Bay area. The company has done work for the Capri Hotel in Fort Lauderdale and extensive work for the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando and the U.S. embassy in Dubai. Future projects include work in a luxury high rise in New York City.
Creating metal sculpture from found objects has been a passion for Martinez ever since he first saw the Paul Eppling sculpture of a lizard made from old car parts that sits atop the St. Petersburg police car garage.
While he continues to make found object pieces that inspire his creativity, Martinez’s artistic flair is often noted in his more utilitarian gates, balcony railings and stair railings. Unlike many metal fabricators, Martinez creates his own designs, which complement the existing architecture.
“We have a great team and we are very passionate about what we do,” Martinez said. “Often, it is not much more expensive to have something custom made than to have something store-bought, and you end up with a signature piece specifically made for you. I’m not saying I’m the best fabricator in town, but I can honestly say I’m probably the most creative.”
Rustic Steel Creations can be reached (813) 222-0016, or see Martinez’s work at www.rusticsteel.com.