Sculptors are fine artists who specialize in making 3-dimensional artworks from a variety of mediums, including clay, metal and wood. Sculptors can sell their work to private collectors, galleries or museums. Like other artists, sculptors are self-employed, and competition among them can be intense. Sculptors might be exposed to chemicals, dust or residue from various art materials.
Although not required to work as sculptors, aspiring professionals can pursue bachelor's and even master's degrees in fine arts. In addition to artistic ability, creativity and manual dexterity, sculptors should have good marketing and sales skills, which can help them promote and sell their work. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide job growth and salary figures specifically to sculptors, in May 2015, it reported that fine artists, such as illustrators, painters and sculptors, earned an average annual salary of $54,170. Between 2014 and 2024, craft and fine artists overall can expect a 2%, or slower than average, increase in employment opportunities, also according to the BLS.
Step 1: Earn a BFA
A Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture program can provide students with the opportunity to explore the art and history of sculpture. Undergraduate coursework in this program includes courses in art history, sketching, casting and molding. Students in their final two years of study can choose electives that expose them to different sculpting materials, such as clay, fabric, glass, metal, wire, wood or stone, or a combination of materials.
- Participate in an internship. Schools typically assist students in finding internship opportunities. An internship can give students valuable first-hand experience in the field and help a form networking connections.
- Take business courses. Electives in business can help aspiring sculptors develop the necessary sales and marketing skills they need to promote and sell their work.
Step 2: Consider an MFA
A Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture is typically a 2-year program where students focus on theory and practice in modern sculpture. Curriculum typically varies by school, but all include large amounts of studio work. Some schools offer private art studio space for graduate students. Many master's degree programs require students to complete a thesis, which typically includes an exhibition of sculpture work.
Step 3: Become an Apprenticeship
An apprenticeship may increase an artist's marketability as well as expand his or her portfolio. Positions with master sculptors may be difficult to find, but work may be available through colleges and universities, art galleries or public art commissions. One can search for opportunities with the art department of a community center or cultural center.
- Join a professional organization. Professional organizations, such as the Sculptor's Guild, offer apprenticeship opportunities to aspiring sculptors. Membership may make the process of finding an apprenticeship easier and may provide career benefits to professionals in the field.
Step 4: Develop a Clientele
Establishing a relationship with prominent gallery owners and patrons are essential ways of generating business. The BLS reports that few sculptors make a living from their craft, with most taking on second jobs to support themselves. Because of this, it is essential for sculptors to market and promote themselves as much as possible to build their reputations and to sell their work.
- Develop an online portfolio. Having an online portfolio can make it easier for sculptors to share their work worldwide and gain attention from galleries, museums and private buyers. Setting up an online portfolio or a professional website may help sculptors find work.
Let's review. Aspiring sculptors can develop their skills and experiment with different materials through Bachelor of Fine Arts and, later, Master of Fine Arts programs. As of May 2015, fine artists, including sculptors, earned an average salary of $54,170.