Made in Tampa Bay: Metal becomes magic at Swartz Art

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An artist in Pinellas Park uses metal, heat, and technical methods to construct faith, love, and hope in the form of works of art.

Clayton Swartz owns Swartz Art. His latest project is an abstract American flag made from welded aluminum.

"It's [called] Faith Hope and Love," Swartz explained. "Once that's completed, it's going to be painted with an automotive finish and will be a beautiful outdoor sculpture."

Most of the work Swarts does is painted metal, but he starts with pencil and paper.

"I start with a sketch that I will then cut. This gives me the elements of the piece that I'm going to make. From these pieces, this is where I will take the bent element, and I would start creating the volume of the piece, welding around and constructing the volume of the piece that I'm making," he explained.

Swartz has been a full-time artist for 14 years and has been involved in the arts his whole life. 

He has lived in Pinellas County since he was 10. In college, he majored in sculpture and painting - the two techniques he now uses in each of his one-of-a-kind pieces. 

Swartz's inspiration comes from being on the water and all of his sculptures depict an element of nature.

"Throughout the years, I've developed a body of work that has been inspired by different things in my life. So I do a lot of diving and spearfishing and fishing and boating," Swartz said as he gave us a tour of his work. "This piece is called scuba diving wreck. It's supposed to emulate a person looking out of a porthole of a submarine or a boat. It's a lot of layered techniques to give it some dimension."

Swartz has a gallery in Pinellas Park and a separate workshop. He sells his work at art shows around the state.

He describes his art as "vibrant, colorful, happy, eye-catching, puts you in good mood."

"As an artist, I think the biggest compliment that I can receive is to have my work to be shown and be appreciated by a customer or the public," he said.

As a full-time artist, he also has to think about his bottom line. As a father of five, he has plenty of motivation to create as much art for sale as he can.

But for every piece he makes to sell, there are plenty of public projects he's working on, as well.

Swartz has done about 30 public art projects that can be seen around the Bay Area. 

"I would say, right now at all times, I have probably a minimum of five or six things I'm working on," he explained. "I try to do a handful of public art projects every year. I've done a few bus stations of PSTA. I have sculptures in downtown Tampa, Dunedin, Clearwater, and Pinellas Park, and also Bellaire just purchased two sculptures for a brand new park. It's called Magnolia Park."

To learn more about Clayton Swartz and Swartz Art, visit