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From Clay to Career: Navigating the Path of a Sculptor

Career as a Sculptor

Are you somewhat aware of the work of Michelangelo, Rodin, Anish Kapoor and Bharti Kher? Are you fascinated by the various creations of art such as a painting, a sculpture or digital art? Are you in awe of the various famous statues such as the Statue of Liberty or the Sardar Patel Statue sculpted recently in India? Do you find yourself connecting with a work of art and feel like even you could create such art? Are you good at sketching, painting or creating clay models or models of plaster of Paris?  A career in art is a bit of a struggle at the beginning but art does pay and you can have a good career in it.

Sculptors are fine artists who work with 3-dimensional artworks using various materials like stone, clay, glass, metal, etc. They create statues made of various materials; create installation art (installation art are 3-dimensional artwork installed in a site; these might be removable also; statues are carved figures of humans or animals, installation art does not portray humans or animals necessarily but could be just a creative abstract sculpture); create digital art (using computer graphics, both 2-D and 3-D graphics as well as motion graphics; and so on.

Why become a Sculptor?

Sculptors are fine artists who work with 3-dimensional artworks using various materials like stone, clay, glass, metal, etc. Sculptors create and build statues, monuments, abstract structures, installation art, etc. For example, the Sardar Patel Statue in Gujarat, India and the Status of Liberty in the USA. Various statues and monuments that you see in cities are all works of Sculptors. Idols of Gods and Goddesses that people of some faiths worship are often made by professional sculptors. Installation art is a temporary abstract structure.

As a sculptor, you will have the freedom to develop your own creative ideas and to mold your materials accordingly. A sculptor should be aware of the previous and new trends in the market, the strength and composition of the material used and the various methods in which materials could be molded. You should be able to tackle other specific fine art subjects like craft, drawing, painting, and illustrations as well.

  1. Sculptor (Abstract Art): Abstract art is a kind of art that depicts visual reality without actual representation but by using different shapes, gestural marks, forms or colors to achieve the effect of the same. As an abstract art sculptor, you will have to do experiments regarding the proportion, shape and technique and use non-traditional sculpting methods for manufacturing a sculpture.
  2. Sculptor (Assemblage Art): Assemblage is an artistic style in which different three-dimensional elements are made to project out of a surface. As a Sculptor specializing in assemblage art, you will have to deal with various found items and know how to put them together on a surface for a desired effect.
  3. Sculptor (Construction Art): In construction art sculpture, three-dimensional models are created by using scrap material. As a Construction art sculptor, you have to understand how items should be probably placed to provide an abstract or aesthetic effect, though it need not have a discernible ‘style’.
  4. Sculptor (Installation Art): Installation art is a kind of site-specific art in which three-dimensional objects are fitted in a specific area in such a way so as to alter the perception of space and achieve an immersive effect for the audience. As a sculptor specializing in installation art, you will have to deal with either interior spaces, or even exterior spaces, which is often referred to as public art.
  5. Sculptor (Kinetic Art): Kinetic art is a kind of sculpting technique in which the object appears to be moving even though it is just fixed. As a kinetic sculptor, you will have to ensure that the perception of the movement is a part of the design and hence, it will achieve the desired illusion when seen by the audience.
  6. Sculptor (Post Modern Art): Postmodern sculpting is a form of sculpting that react or rejects the traditions of modernism and develops a new form of style that conflates high and low art. As a postmodern sculptor, you may have to involve in found items sculpture, and also, postmodern forms of sculpture like Ice Sculpture and Sand Art.
  7. Sculptor (Representational Art): Representational art refers to the kind of sculpting where the figure formed will be representative of the object it purports to be. The sculpture may not be true to life in terms of color, but it must be recognizable and easy to identify in form and structure. It is based on realism and is the opposite of abstract art.
  8. Sculptor (Relief Art): Relief sculpture is a technique in which the sculpted elements are attached to a solid background that is of the same material. As a result, the sculpted material appears to be raised from the background. As a sculptor involved in relief art, you have to be able to use different tools to be able to prepare relief art as you desire.

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What does a sculptor do?

Every sculptor has these basic activities which include:

  • Generating new ideas and developing models on the basis of new ideas.
  • Meeting the deadlines when they have accepted work from a client.
  • Conducting research on new trends or getting other perspectives
  • Self-promoting or marketing their work and finding the best marketing channel to do so.
  • Carving objects from various materials like concrete, stone, plaster, etc. by using tools like a mall, chisels, and gouges.
  • Maintaining a portfolio of their artwork to show interest, style, and abilities
  • Marketing their artwork through emails and websites.
  • Discussing with clients and art directors regarding the nature of work to be produced.
  • Complying with the health and safety procedures while working in a studio
  • Reaching out to different galleries and convincing them to showcase their work.

How to become a sculptor – Educational Requirement

Undergraduate studies after school:

To have a basic knowledge and application of sculpting, you have to get a Bachelor of Fine Art in Sculpture.

You can also opt for a Diploma in Fine Art (Sculpture) to learn the basic techniques in sculpture.

Post Graduate studies:

If you are interested in specialized knowledge in sculpting after your graduation, then you need to have a Master of Fine Art In Sculpture.

Doctoral Studies:

A Doctorate Degree in Fine Arts is the highest degree in the field of study. It is necessary to have a master’s degree before you can go for a Ph.D. in Fine Arts in Sculpture

Educational Fees

The cost of studying a course in Sculpture in India can vary depending on the institution and the duration of the program. Generally, the cost of tuition fees for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Sculpture in India ranges from INR 50,000 to INR 5 lakhs per year, while the cost of a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program can range from INR 1 lakh to INR 7 lakhs per year.

Job Opportunities

After you get your diploma or graduation you can work as an assistant or apprentice under an established Senior Sculptor. You can also work independently at your own studio. However, if you want, you can look into teaching art so as to run your expenses until you become established as a Sculptor. You can also earn a decent amount of money if you work as an assistant under a well-known Sculptor. You may also get commissioned to build various sculptures like decorative items, statues, etc. You can also be commissioned to make idols of Gods and Goddesses.

Salary of a sculptor        

At first, the growth of a sculptor is slow. As an entry-level sculptor, you may earn about Rs. 9000-10,000 a month. However, as you start gaining experience, you may earn about Rs. 35,000-40,000 a month as well. Also, if you become famous, you can become a freelancer and land better commissioning work which could be worth much more than Rs. 100,000 and you can earn anything between Rs. 1,00,000 – 5,00,000 or even more a month.

Career progression in Sculptor profession

Sculptors can gain career advancement only after their work circulates among specific channels and they gain a lot of reputation. For growth, sculptors have to develop new ideas, engage in specific styles and let their work evolve over time. Many sculptors hold full-time jobs until they are reputed enough to become professional sculptors. Others can work part-time in schools, develop experience and gain maintain a portfolio. Self-employed and freelance sculptors can create a customer base who can regularly contact them for work, and they can grow accordingly in this area.

The growth of sculptors can be slower than average. However, if a sculptor can work hard, and earn fame for themselves, then there can be substantial growth. Also, since high-net-worth individual is generally the people who invest in sculpting and other fine arts, the future outlook shows that the assets of a high-net-worth individual are expected to reach USD 2.3 trillion by 2020, indicating an increase in the opportunity pool.

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