If you are creative and imaginative and enjoy molding and forming figures from clay, plastic and other hard materials then you can consider becoming a sculptor. This profession gives you the chance to put your artistic skills to work in designing three-dimensional works of art that are often displayed in art galleries or public places such as parks and buildings.
As a sculptor, you will be carving different sculpture pieces using chisels and other hand tools into the design you have in mind. For pieces where the main material used is not hard, there may not be any need for chisels but other tools like pliers and scissors. Paper clips, paper, rubber bands and plastic are now being used by many sculptors these days to form beautiful and compelling sculptural pieces. Instead of chiseling to get the desired shape and size, softer and more pliant materials are instead assembled and cut, carved and joined together.
Sculptors can specialize in designing a particular kind of sculptural piece. For example, you can become known as the artist who creates freestanding sculptures or one who has a more modern bent. The latter typically creates amazing pieces by assembling unrelated materials together. You may also be known for your reliefs or for crafting sculptural pieces that move using the power of wind or water. You may also be known for making intricate, wooden or bronze pieces or for carving over-sized statues that have become landmarks in various locations.
The main requirement for being a sculptor is artistic ability. In addition to possessing the ability to imagine designs, you also need to have manual dexterity since you will be doing most of your work with your hands. You also need to have business savvy since you will be doing a lot of your own promotions if you want your business to grow.
You’ll have to create your own website where you will be displaying your work and interact with gallery owners and other people in order to get them interested in the work you do. Knowing how to talk with and take care of clients will help move your business forward.
One reason to become a sculptor is that it allows you to do something you love to do. It doesn’t matter if you’ll have to keep a day job in another industry while you’re still starting so you can pay the bills. When you go into your studio to start carving, chiseling and assembling materials into a beautiful work of art, nothing could be more fulfilling.
Money isn’t always the main consideration to go into this profession but the desire to create lasting art pieces. Sculptors who have already carved a name for themselves in the industry do get paid handsomely for their work and are commissioned to undertake financially lucrative projects.
Sculptor Work Environment
Sculptors work in studios or warehouses large enough to house their materials and finished art pieces. They may be hired by companies or organizations to come up with artistic pieces to grace their lawns or buildings or they may design and craft their own work to be displayed and sold to collectors and other private individuals. Sculptural pieces may take weeks to months to complete. Self-employed sculptors typically set their own work hours.
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that fine artists, a work category that includes sculptors, painters and illustrators, is $50,900. This is higher than the $36,600 paid to craft artists but lower than the $72,400 paid to multimedia artists and animators.
Average Sculptor Salary
Executive sculptors (Top 10%) earn $103,680 ($49.85 an hour)
Senior sculptors (Top 25%) earn $72,260 ($34.74 an hour)
Mid Level sculptors (Median) pay is $50,790 ($24.42 an hour)
Junior of sculptors (Bottom 25%) earn $32,230 ($15.49 an hour)
Entry Level of sculptors (Bottom 10%) earn $19,620 ($9.43 an hour)
Sculptor Salary By State
Sculptor Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the job outlook of fine artists is going to be slower than the national average. For the decade covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate for fine artists, which includes sculptors, is set to rise only 4 percent. There will be intense competition for jobs and even funding grants from various sponsors due to the vast pool of talented artists compared to the limited number of jobs and funds available. Sculptors must not only be talented artistically but know how to market themselves to succeed.
Only artistic ability is needed to get into this profession but many choose to get postsecondary training to enhance their skills. A bachelor’s degree in the fine arts will provide aspiring sculptors with the chance to start putting together a portfolio of their work. Their portfolio showcases their skills and is what employers look for when deciding to hire sculptors. Sculptors who wish to teach the subject in public schools will need to get a teaching certificate in addition to their bachelor’s degree.