View Full Version : now what?
05-04-2005, 10:15 AM
I'm looking for advice here, As some of you know I just completed my MFA degree in sculpture...but now the real world hits. SO far no teaching jobs have panned out. OK so I keep looking but in the mean time I have to support my family, move (to where?), and hopefully continue to make work. Plan B, I have this crazy idea to start making furniture, i have tools but no studio and no one has comissioned me so I can buy materials. Graduate school has depleted my financial reserves. So the question is how do I make this all work? Have any of you been in this situation? My goal is to be a professional sculptor. Do I just get a McDonald's job? seems kind of dumb when I have a terminal degree. I have great credentials for someone coming out of grad school but that apparently doesn't equal job. Any suggestion or comments are welcome.
05-04-2005, 10:41 AM
Just a suggestion here...
It might be a good idea to take a job..any job..to take the stress off.
Today's economy sucks..
Then start to plan...
05-04-2005, 10:55 AM
I agree, If you don't find a source of income to support your growth as an artist you will find little success. Personally I'm a stone guy, so I spent years doing masonry work , and now carve architectural pieces to support my sculpture habit. If I depended on sales of my "art", I would be that infamous starving artist.
If funiture making is an attractive source of income for you, you might look for work in a cabinet shop or with a trim carpenter as a starting place. Income plus an opportunity to hone your skills. Much more satisfying than flipping burgers.
05-04-2005, 11:41 AM
Tuff call,but income is the only way to buy tools,rent shop,ect.If there is any art complexs,or wharehouses with artist working ,I would go check them out.You might find work and network some good conections.Although I have been succesful as an artist,that does not always equal the same in the bank.Without sugar coating it,full time art for income is difficult.You also need to start showing your work in galleries and shows to start building your portfoilio and potential client list.Think long term and produce and show your work as much as possible,you can make your dream come true,as long as you do not mind working your butt in the name of art.
05-04-2005, 11:54 AM
Being that I am about to embark on my graduate studies, your plight has significance to me. Our areas of focus, figurative and non-objective, might differ, but I will be at the point of departure too in a couple of years.
My thought at this point has been to contact those sculptors I can that are making a living doing what I want to do. I've done that on a small scale and have heard some encouraging things. They have told me the same thing, which is mainly that: if you believe in your product and you devote yourself to it, other people will respond. Granted the artists I have talked to are figurative artists like myself, but they have been able to carve themselves nice livings doing comissioned as well as gallery work.
There is also the obvious geographical problem. Lots of places just don't have an art market to speak of. One of the Sculptors I spoke with moved to Loveland, CO which is probably the unofficial figurative sculpture capital of the country. There he set up shop, based on another sculptor's advice, and now he is very successful and co-founded one of the two biggest figurative sculpture shows in the entire country. My point, as he explained to me, is to go where the demand is greatest. He said that his show and the other show that takes place there at the same time are the shows that people know to go to for the best figurative sculpture. Location, location, location. I figure one day I might live in Loveland too. I think a book I flipped through once had information of this sort and was called, (don't quote me), The 100 Best Art Communties in America. You might look that up and see if there is a place that will be a the best place for you and the type of sculpture you do.
Researching the market and area around you will help too. After four years here in Naples, FL, I know pretty well what does and doesn't sell. Really it only took an afternoon of scouting out the galleries to see which way the wind blew. My diagnosis, I won't move back here no matter how many millionaires there are...because they don't buy sculpture that isn't of a certain genre.
These are just some of the things I've observed and learned in contemplating a career in sculpture. Maybe they'll give you a place to start. I just remembered, Look up a book called Art Marketing 101, A Handbook for the Fine Artist, by Constance Smith. I've got a copy and think it has some practical information on making yourself more salable and finding markets for your work.
Good luck and know you are not alone.
05-04-2005, 12:07 PM
Jason,excellent advice.Sometimes living in "artist" towns is not the answer though.I almost moved to Santa FE,I was selling well,and my dealer wanted me in town.I decided the lack of availability of materials,and thousands of artist would not work in my favor.The next year my dealer moved to Nashville,and my new dealer did not now the art of closing a sale.I would probally be toast if I made that move.Think it out,but makets for art can always be reached buy shipping or driving.That is how I survive living in the mountains,I take the show on the road ,and most of my clients live in the "Big City".
05-04-2005, 12:22 PM
This is true. There is the migratory way of following sales through going on the road and alot of people do that and do well.
For my money, I would not move to a place unless I saw the almost definite certainty of sales. This won't hold true of all places, but it does of others. A demand can be measured and risk calculated. It is done with great precision in business. If corporations can be that smart why can't artists?
If I learned anything from studying commercial art as an undergraduate, it is that in that arena, nothing is left to chance. Whether it is the typeface you use, the color or imagery, the illustrator hired, everything is done with an eye towards sales..and it is a booming industry. It leaves me cold, but there are lessons that can be learned and applied by those of us who chose a different path. At he end of the day, we are really "commercial" artists too or we starve.
05-04-2005, 05:24 PM
you are also right,because most artist have to use there skills to offset seasonal or "rollercoaster "sales.When I started out in the mid 80,s I used to build props for photographers,hang art for gallerys,install sculpture,and basically anything creative I could do to pay the bills.Now I do commissioned architectual,forged,and fabricated custom metal work,and it "floats the art boat".I am doing a show in Travese City ,Michigan, and I am funding the gig by doing a big custom stainless job for a high tech cabin in the mountains.I also use the materials and abrasives from these jobs to use on my art.If there is a will,there is a way.My theroy is if it was that easy everybody would be an artist,well not everybody ,but you get what I meen.
05-04-2005, 05:53 PM
i feel for you iowasculptor. if you are looking for a job, perhaps working in a gallery is an option. i mention this because my father was once in the same boat as you (finishing school, family etc) and he became an art dealer. it wasn't as much fun as making his own art of course, but it paid the bills and he got be around and talk about art all day. of course he was a natural salesmen.
although i didn't go the way of a whole formal education, i always wanted to do something creative. it took me a while to figure out that sculpture was my thing. until i got there i was a chef and i found that i never had the time to do my art which was the most frustrating thing in the world. then about seven years ago i started my own catering company and found that although i worked every bit as hard, i wrote my own schedule so i was able to better fit in my art. again, not a perfect solution, but if there is something you can do that is your own company, you'll feel better about not doing art and you'll probably have more time and energy to do the sculpting you want. maybe the furniture idea could work for you.
good luck, i wish you well.
05-05-2005, 09:29 PM
Thanks everyone for your input. I actually took your advice to get a job any job, so I went to a guy I know who owns 7 businesses in the area from construction, cell phone, check cashing, satalite dish, pre paid phone card, etc... and was talking to hime and he was going to give me a sales job selling cell phones... anyway I told him straight up that I didn't have any experience with sales and I would do my best but I'm not that confident in my abilities in that area...about that time the guy he hired to run his graphic design company of 1 artist cam in and said that their artist had turned in her 2 weeks notice... which got me thinking I took graphic design in college I've done quite a bit of graphics with my sculptures I could do that... he proceded to draw a diagram illustrating that opportunity and preparation are an x and sometimes the opportunities are there but you aren't ready and other times you are ready but the opportunities aren't there and that he doesn't believe in luck all things happen for a reason and this was one of those intersection points. So I start tomarrow, its not sculpture but it is creative and it does pay some bills. I am still looking for a teaching job or that next great sculpture opportunity to make me rich and powerful but for now this will do. If anyone knows any leads on a sculpture job please let me know, I would be interested in working with a more established artist besides teaching.
05-07-2005, 09:43 AM
I've also got a day-job which has nothing to do with sculpture (horray for the insurance industry!), and although it sometimes bores or frustrates me, I quite like that it doesn't drain me creatively or physically. When I graduated, I realized I needed to afford a residence, a studio, and supplies (and food :D). So I moved from Toronto, which has a decent art-scene, to Waterloo, which has a tiny art-scene but also a much lower cost-of-living. I'm sculpting less than I'd prefer, but I am sculpting, and much more than I would in Toronto with a lower-paying job and higher expenses.
It's all a matter of finding what works for you. Good luck, and keep us posted!
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