Rick Lobdell, owner of Concrete Mystique, Nashville, TN gives real meaning to the title Decorative Concrete Artisan. Those in the industry know him for his outstanding use of color and design and top-notch workmanship. Clients know him as an artisan who can transform their concrete into stunning masterpieces. Those in the art world know him as an artist who follows sound design principles to create stunning and unique projects.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Rick recently won three decorative concrete awards from the Decorative Concrete Council, a division of ASCC. The awards were presented to him at the 2013 World of Concrete Show, and each of the winning projects included engraving.
“I love the physicality of engraving,” Rick says. “Some of my friends think I should just paint on the concrete, but it’s not about making a picture on concrete. It’s about design. I love the math behind designs and then engraving them. The physicality is my favorite part.”
Rick owns three Engrave-A-Crete Super Compacts (now known as The Cobra) and he has used them continually for the past 10 years. The fact that the Super Compacts are still serving him well says lots about the quality, dependability and durability of Engrave-A-Crete tools.
“I appreciate the fact that Engrave-A-Crete tools are expensive so that not everyone has them,” Rick says. “That makes you exclusive and unique, and puts you a step above the rest of the game.”
Rick begins each of his decorative concrete jobs by evaluating not only the space to be engraved, but the areas surrounding it. He seldom repeats a design he’s used previously, believing that each project is unique. As a designer and installer, his goal is to create a design that unifies the surface with the rest of the property.
“It’s a turn of the century house,” Rick says. “The floor is well over 60 years old, probably more like 80-100. The owner wanted a fresh, new look that still fit into a house of this age. I found a pattern I liked on another floor and I made it bigger and changed it to fit the space.”
The project floor was brick, but was very stable. Rick patched a crack and then applied a 3/8” overlay to add the depth he needed for engraving the design into the surface. He then stained and engraved the lovely three-dimensional pattern.
Rick’s client also wanted the pool deck engraved. Two tile medallions Rick found inside the house inspired the pattern he used there, visually linking the pool deck to the house.
“It gave the sense of the entire design of the property being very well thought out,” Rick says, “like one person designed and built the whole thing.”
Just how did Rick, who earned a Master of Fine Arts in painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design, end up in decorative concrete?
“Nine years ago we moved to Nashville due to my wife’s work,” Rick says. “She’s a molecular biologist. I have a huge background in construction and tile. I found a company that was looking for artistic minded people. Turns out they were just doing simple designs like tile and brick. I said, ‘Do you realize these tools (the Engrave-A-Crete Super Compacts) can do so much more? I’d upsell to more complicated tile designs right away because clients will love it.’ The owners later sold me the company. I turned a simple company into one where I’ve made my own niche. I create an art form that people aren’t expecting. I never get bored!”
Rick shared some wisdom he’s gained on how to succeed at decorative concrete.
“You have to be willing to devote 100% to what you do. Decorative concrete is always about problem solving. No job or concrete is the same. Spend time working with your materials ahead of time, not on the job, so you know what you’re doing .
“The concrete world is so unique because there’s no limit to what you can do and no other art form can do that. There’s vertical, whole house, flooring, any color…it’s kind of overwhelming because there are no limits to what can be learned.
“ I collaborate with multiple people. I can’t do it all so I unite with others in the field to make the future bigger for them as well. Why not combine decorative engraving with a polishing company, etc….someone else to share the burden with. You can’t do it all. Work together and everyone benefits.”
Thanks, Rick! We couldn’t have said it better.
Visit Rick’s website at www.concretemystique.com to see more of his phenomenal work, such as the Nashville Dinner Theatre project. It’s an entertaining site full of information and inspiration from Rick and the fun crew he works with.
Kudos to you, Rick Lobdell, for your outstanding contributions to the world of decorative concrete. You are indeed an inspiration.