Sculptor  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotSculptors are the movers and shapers of the art world. They are fine artists who create three-dimensional art from clay, glass, wire, plastic, metal, plaster, wood, stone and concrete.

dotThey create to satisfy their own need for self-expression and display their work in museums, corporate collections, art galleries and private homes.

dot"Stone has a way of either teaching you patience, or teaching you to walk down the road," says stone sculptor Michael Kaczor of Pecos, New Mexico.

"You can work and work and work with stone, and there's no result. But you have to keep putting in all that work to eventually achieve a result. It's not like painting where you splash on some color and say, 'Ah, I like that.' You have to chip for three days before you see it might work."

dotYou have to be willing to get your hands dirty in this career. Sculptors use a variety of materials and may be exposed to the odors of glues and paints.

Sculptors are self-employed artists who work in studios. They either market their own work, or hire an agent to do it. Still, very few sculptors make a full-time living from their artwork alone.

Kaczor agrees that sculptors often have to do other things to make a living. He explains that there'll always be a market for good work, but you have to work hard to sell what you create.

dotThe entrepreneurial spirit will come in handy. "There are long periods when nothing occurs, then there are short bursts of intense activity," says Kaczor. "I can't put a handle on what's going to drive people to purchase my artwork."

Self-marketing and promotion are important. You can do the finest work in the world, but if no one knows about it then you've wasted your time.

"It's like any business. You can create anything, but if you don't have any marketing abilities or any place to distribute your work, you're stuck with a whole room full of beautiful stuff," Kaczor notes.

dotBeing an artist might seem like a low-stress way of life. But it's not always like that. "While I carve, the stress is exhausting and often the feeling is similar to writing the final examination after a year of study at university," says stone sculptor Chris Rose.

To combat that stress, Rose says you have to have the willpower to succeed, and to expose yourself to the possibility of failure.

"One has to recognize the concept of perfection is an 'ideal.' You strive for it, but will never attain it," he explains. "One has to have patience and perseverance. And perhaps most importantly, one has to be willing to take a risk. Try something new, try something difficult, and be willing to take criticism."

At a Glance

Fashion art from blocks of stone or other materials

  • Most sculptors do more than sculpt
  • Patience is an essential trait for sculptors
  • It takes training to turn talent into skill