Artist Wilson Lopez’s interest in music began when he was a young child. Born in Honduras, Wilson’s father was a renowned saxophone player for his country’s national air force. So, from birth, Wilson was surrounded by music.
Lopez recalls when community elders would gather on the street corner, fire up a barbecue, and play their music on Friday evenings. He was attracted to the sound, but the only way they would let him hang around was if he fetched their food and drinks.
Learning by listening, Wilson Lopez eventually asked if he could borrow a guitar. He asked lots of questions, copied their techniques, and improved his skills without any formal training. In fact, he never had his own guitar until after he immigrated to the US.
Aside from his interest in music, young Lopez loved to draw. “I don’t think I knew that it could be my livelihood,” he says. “In my country, people did not respect art and artists the way they do here.”
In 2005, Wilson Lopez moved to the US to work for his cousin’s landscaping business. Later, after meeting and marrying his wife, Lili, he took a job at her father’s flooring company. “I kept noticing that, with every job, big chunks of marble would go in the trash,” he recalls. “I thought I could do something with the leftovers.”
He took scraps home and created designs, which he was able to sell. Eventually, it became his passion. “The main reason I love mosaics is the philosophy behind it: large and small, square and corner pieces—every piece is vitally important as they join together to become the whole,” he says.
Today, the mosaic artist and his wife own the Fort Myers, Florida, gallery and showroom Ultimate Mosaic. His projects begin with research and careful preparation, considering location, subject, colors, and materials. Every design (like the guitar above) is Lopez’s personalized expression of elegance, using handcrafted details and intricate inlays.
Who are your main influences?
My musical influences include Joe Bonamassa, Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani. I am inspired by their passion, skill, and the ability to fuse together a blend of cultures and musical styles.
Why do you continue to make music?
I love to express myself and music is one of the most special methods of self-expression. If you get it right, you can leave a mark in the soul that lasts longer than words.
How do you continue to learn?
I am an avid Internet enthusiast for continuing education. I use YouTube, Google, and other online sources to hone my skills and learn new techniques.
What benefits have you found to making music?
I discover a feeling of freedom when I play, losing myself in the music and really being in the moment. For me it is like painting with sound.
How do you make time for music in your life?
It is sometimes difficult. Sometimes I work 12 hours a day and then I want to spend time with my wife and my son, and play soccer for my physical outlet. I try to set time in the evenings, or on weekends, to carve out a little free time with my guitar.
What advice do you have for someone getting back into music later in life?
Time is the most precious thing that we have in life. I don’t want to think about things I could have done but never have. Look at music as a gift—try it and keep on doing it so you don’t have regrets later. With technology there’s a whole world of ways you can excel in music—you can watch people play from around the globe, opening a whole world of styles and rhythms. It’s never too late and there’s no limit to what you can learn.
What is the best memory you have of making music?
That’s easy—I once went with a friend to a Christmas party at a hotel where the audience numbered about 5,000. My friend challenged me to go up to the band and ask if I could join them for one song. They said “yes,” and it was amazing—the crowd and the band responded so positively to my playing—it was the thrill of a lifetime.