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  #1  
Old 01-08-2007, 06:09 PM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Tell me about your first public commission

I am currently in the process of submitting a proposal for a public commission. I feel that I have a good design and am fully capable of completing this sculpture, not only on time, but with great execution. However, I fear that because I have never worked on a public commission before, I will simply be overlooked. I have been through this process before always with the same result. I recieve some form letter that lets me know that there were many qualified entries for the project and they had a difficult time narrowing them down to just a few, however I am not among those selected for the next phase. This is the first one that I think holds real promise, and I've even made my name and face known to the Art Counsil on previous occassions. With several possitives on my side I know I should feel good about it, but the obstacle of my first commission still looms in the distance.

I could really use some of your stories of your first public commission and how you managed to get past the obstacle of it being your first time. Maybe you could share what led to the commission and how it turned out.

Thanks for any help you guys can give.

Alfred
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  #2  
Old 01-08-2007, 09:02 PM
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evaldart evaldart is offline
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Re: Tell me about your first public commission

I had to place my own sculpture publicly for some years before the first commision. It was good exposure for me to find homes for my larger work at colleges , parks or institutions but for no pay, often I lost money doing this. But it provided me with experience and some good photo documentation that I would later use when applying for real commissions (it appeared to them that I had many previous commissions). Still, there are mostly rejections., its part of it. But it all pays off when one finally come through. Be sure not to ignore gallery shows, group exhibits, festivals etc, There is great potential in the small things because of volume. I was two for ten in '06 on proposals. Imagine that, batting 200 and okay with it. Just stay busy. The best of luck, evaldart
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  #3  
Old 01-09-2007, 11:22 AM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Re: Tell me about your first public commission

Thanks for that Evaldart. I too have used galleries and art fairs as another venue for my smaller work. I like you idea of installing work at colleges and other institutions. I bet my Alma Mater would love to get something for free (or a small fee perhaps). And I would also be happy with 2 for 10, I know how rejections go. Thanks again for sharring and I wish you lots more success.
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:11 AM
Tyrone Tyrone is offline
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Re: Tell me about your first public commission

how does one approach a public commission? is it solely through entry into published copetitions? or doesone approach a municipality/ firm/ business with your ideas, approach, and intent? how would one innitiate such a thing?
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  #5  
Old 01-15-2007, 01:00 PM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Re: Tell me about your first public commission

The commission I am currently applying for was sent to me by the city. I have placed myself on their list of local artists. When a competition is created by the city they send out notices ( call for entry ) to all the people on the list. I am also a member of the National Sculpture Society and I recieve their Bi-monthly newsletter ( The NSS Buelletin ) which contains a large list of national competitions. You can also approach design firms and let them know that you are a sculptor. Many times they have a certain amount of money set asside in their budget for artwork that will be placed at a particular site. Getting in early is the best. I have not had success in that endeavor, but do not take my lack of success as a barometer of your chances. Make yourself known to as many people as you can, and submit often to competitions near you. The more people see your name, the easier it will be to remember you down the road. I attended City Art Counsil meetings (very borring) but the members of the counsil know me by name and face because I got up and spoke about some of their topics. Good Luck.
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  #6  
Old 01-15-2007, 03:15 PM
Tyrone Tyrone is offline
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Re: Tell me about your first public commission

thanks Alfred. an awesome and noteworthy response.
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  #7  
Old 01-15-2007, 08:46 PM
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evaldart evaldart is offline
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Re: Tell me about your first public commission

Yes, being visible locally is always a good way to get things going. Offer up a piece for a location,your info on the title plate. Be sure its a responsible installation even if its for free. Your studio is the center of the world - your efforts let you expand outwardly from there.
And we all know the HARD way...publications, journals, calls for entry. Gotta do em, no matter how much it hurts. Merlion found a gem of an opportunity site just recently.
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Old 02-05-2007, 11:56 AM
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marblecutter marblecutter is offline
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Re: Tell me about your first public commission

My first significant commission was, as Isamu Noguchi puts it: "The easiest part is to be accepted and the hardest is to create the proposed sculpture." Not his exact words but as stated, one has to propose what one can accomplish. When will it ever be a first when it is usually required to show past accomplishments? All it takes is that one chance which may or may not come soon enough. The sculptor of the world's largest equestrian statue Mr. John Houser, has never done a large statue of that scale before. His father was Ivan Houser, an assistant to Gutzon Borglum the creator of the large presidents' heads at Mount Rushmore. His son John has always had the ego of doing something big so he finds a way to do it. His original proposal was based on historical research of Texas travelers. There was an account with $4 million dollars that was generate from hotel taxes. He proposed the Twelve Travelers sculptural project that encompassed the entire $4 million and it was approved by the city counsel in 1992. So far only two of those 12 travelers have been accomplished. The first sculpture was under $100,000 and the second exceeds the proposed $4 million.http://www.12travelers.org/ So it is really a business when one works on commissions. It takes away from the creative process.
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  #9  
Old 02-23-2007, 08:28 AM
Keropian Keropian is offline
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Re: Tell me about your first public commission

I would have to say the opposite of Noguchi.
For me personally, it has always been harder to get the commission than to accomplish the task.
There are so many artists out there going for public works and bombarding committees that I believe it tends to be a crap shoot.
In general, many committees don't have skilled artists on their staff, so even the mediocre work can get the job and generally will do it cheaper; resulting in "you get what you pay for". Students shouldn't go for public commissions. Leave it to the professionals. Would you want a student building your home, of course not. In fact the builder would need to be certified and insured.

As to answering your question. My first large commission was Nine-Heroic Tigers for Comerica Park (Tiger Stadium) in Detroit. I happened to have worked with the firm, the owner knew he could work with me and count on the quality. He asked if I could make a tiger, I said yes, and kicked out a maquette in 3 days. The other reason I got the job was the ridiculous time constraint.
No sane sculptor would have taken up the task.
We sculpted nine tigers (average height 12 feet) in 4 months.

For pics and more info visit: http://www.keropiansculpture.com/tigstad.html

MK
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  #10  
Old 02-23-2007, 11:20 AM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Re: Tell me about your first public commission

Michael, wow!!! I love the tigers. That sounds like a project I would be crazy enough to take on. I'm also an extremely fast sculptor, having worked as a commercial sculptor for a short while, I learned that fast and accurate were the key. You are obviously a very talanted sculptor and I congratulate you on such a prestigeous commission. I heard from the city of Laguna Beach (that's were I was trying to get that commission) last week, and unfortunately they said no. I knew it was a long shot going in, but it was still fun to picture myself working on a life-and-a-half sized sculpt, and finishing it in about two months. I did however sell a piece to a woman in New York the same day I recieved my rejection, so I guess there was a small silver linning on that cloud.

Thank you for sharring your story, I hope that you have recieved many more commissions since then. Tell me, I've been told that once you get the first commission out of the way, the rest seem to come a lot easier. Has that been the case for you? I know that I am only 30 years old and that's not that old for a sculptor, but my professor in college had his first public commission when he was 24, and they've just kept comming since.

Alfred
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  #11  
Old 03-01-2007, 12:26 AM
Keropian Keropian is offline
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Re: Tell me about your first public commission

For some sculptors that may be very true, but unfortunately I haven't received anything as big since then! Even though I have several large projects in the works. A lot of good intentioned inquiries have no concept of how expensive this stuff is to make or what it takes to do the work. I can't tell you how many people want me to make them a tiger.
It all depends on your contacts and if the funds are available or there is a committee game enough to fundraise then you have a good chance of moving forward.
Quality does have a lot to do with some commissions, others you think "what the hell were they thinking?"
Most committees have no idea what a good quality figure is compared to a bad figure.
Any way I only wish to encourage you, I hope this was helpful!

Mike Keropian
http://www.keropiansculpture.com
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