Joel Ortiz is a U.S. Disabled Navy Veteran who has been welding all his life. Now, as the proud founder of Manolo Jolinsky Welded Wall Art, he’s marrying art with technical ability to design and sell custom metal wall art.
“If you’re good at one thing, see what kind of business you can make out of it, then take it one step at a time,” he said. “I started out with my business statement and license, tax ID number and then I just took it from there, day by day.”
Creative metalworking requires a high level of skill along with an artistic mind. His parents’ welding business in La Puente, California was Oritz’s first welding school, and he went on to study manufacturing technology before joining the US Navy, repairing submarines.
His story is one of triumph. Oritz received Honorable Discharge after he suffered traumatic brain injury from non-combat injuries. He continued to use his welding skills as a welding technician but as his disabilities became more complex, Oritz turned to his passions – welding and art – for therapy.
He built his own art studio, which quickly became a sanctuary for pursuing his art welding passion. Oritz taught himself photography and started producing welded wall art.
“I told myself I needed to keep my mind focused on some of my passions, which has always been metal art.”
That’s how his business, Monolo Jolinsky got its start. Oritz now combines his photography and welded metal frames to sell a complete product. His full work can sell from between two and three thousand dollars. Other artistic pursuits, including stainless steel, bronze and photography wall art will be Ortiz’s next challenge.
Managing the technical side of his business was one of the first hurdles that Oritz had to overcome.
“I’ve never been tech savvy, “ he said. “In fact my friend once told me about the App Store and I replied, ‘what street is it on?’”
After trying to wade through confusing software, Oritz switched to Invoice2go, which he uses to manage his business’s cash flow and simplify taxes.
“I could finally do what I needed to, without the complication,” he said.