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and I can paint with anything. It doesn’t have to be a spray paint can.” Although Solomon started working with graffiti as a kid, it wasn’t until he went to school at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan that he learned to combine his educational background and affinity for pain to kickstart his career. “Detroit’s art scene is different from so many other big cities, because it has been incubated. It has been sheltered, it is kind of a bubble, and sort of isolated,” Solomon said. While Detroit has experienced its fair share of hardships in the past decade—economic, social, and political—Solomon believes Detroit and its art scene is on the rise. “Because of all that has been going on in the city, Detroit has a unique authenticity. I’m not saying other artists in other cities aren’t authentic, but an arts community that is still developing that has yet to make its debut and influence on the world stage; the artists here don’t have a lot to lose,” Solomon said. “We tend to go all out all the time, because we’re starving; but that has been changing. There are more opportunities then there were before and we’re starting to catch up culturally.” With a city on the rise and a plethora of artists seeking to make their mark, Detroit has the potential of becoming a saturated market, proving the importance of cultivating a singular trademark. To float above water, make an impact, one’s style must be unique to garner the attention of potential clients. “I would say my art style is that of a chameleon,” Solomon said. “I can adjust my process to fit whatever I’m working on.” This ability of pragmatic versatility shines in his finished work, which seems to always draw a crowd or innocuously invite pedestrians to take a minor detour from their regularly scheduled trip from work to absorb the masterpiece he has imbued within the city. “I just like to sit back and watch and listen to their ideas when they see my work,” Solomon said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time—this will be my 21st professional year at it—so when it comes to the people interpreting the work, I’m usually all ears. I like to listen to what they have to say.” It often takes a lifetime of dedication to the craft to catch the public’s eye and even more time to make a career out of it. Crossing the threshold from amateur to professional is a difficult feat, with much of the success hinging on preparation. “There’s obviously a difference between approaching a personal project and professional one,” Solomon said. “For professional jobs, there is usually a sit-down where COURTESY KOBIE SOLOMON

I listen to the clients’ ideas and we try to figure out a visual solution, meet all their requirements, and cover all their bases. Then comes developmental sketches as we go through multiple iterations, quick rough ideas for what I could do, and then I kind of jump right into the piece.” Throughout the years, Solomon has taken a streamlined approach to the preliminary stage of development, reducing the amount of time spent overall and providing an efficient design process for clients. When it comes to the canvas, however, he is meticulous about the materials and the nuanced challenges associated with different platforms. “Every surface has a different attitude and a different behavior,” Solomon said. “Something that has been pre-painted or primed always fits paint better then when it hasn’t. Each surface must be taken on a case-by-case basis. Unpainted brick, unpainted surfaces, unprimed surfaces: they are a nightmare to work on and should be primed first or else they work like a sponge and they just eat all of your materials.” While it is not uncommon, Solomon also noted there are other small variables that play significant roles when approaching a mural project. “I mean temperature and whether the surface has been prepped or not, it can all affect the materials,” Solomon said. “The cold affects paint and if the wall is made from metal also hinders the outcome. If it is below forty degrees [Fahrenheit] and the walls made out of metal, it’s nearly impossible to paint.” Although Solomon is currently between

mural jobs, he is honing his creative energy in other mediums: He’s working on two books. The first book, titled “My First Graffiti Coloring Book”, is a satire on a children’s alphabet coloring book, and is a crash course in underground hip-hop and graffiti culture. He wrote it, illustrated it, and did all the layout and design as well. It’s aimed at an audience aged 15-to-16 years-old and up, and is in the final editing process for a re-release on the national scale. The other book will also involve plenty of illustration and is still in the early stages of development. In this second book, Solomon looks to the limitless power of kids’ imaginations, as well as problem solving, and how to intelligently deal with the consequences of our choices. “The two genres sort of go together in a way that isn’t off-putting,” Solomon said. “You can put audible cultural satire in a kid’s book, and it’s a refreshing change from painting, definitely less messy.” Solomon’s versatility as an artist is something to marvel at. The complexity of his work showcases the strength, dedication, and patience for achieving his wellearned success; and when it comes to design, he views it as a vehicle of expression. “Communication. All art speaks in its own voice—articulating an idea or feeling—and good art communicates the idea or feeling the artist or designer had in mind when they made it,” Solomon said. Previously published in Great Lakes By Design Magazine

Profile for Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies

GL Magazine February  

GL Magazine February