OUTFITTING A STUDIO: Most sculptors cannot work on their kitchen table. They require large studio spaces equipped with expensive tools and safety equipment is often a must. Utilities and insurance costs can be very high. When dealing with heavy materials, such as stone or heavy gauge metal, sculptors may need forklifts, hydraulic lifts and sometimes cranes.
TIME AND MATERIALS: Materials can be very expensive. There are for instance over 20 grades of stainless steel, but only the highest grades will not rust under constant exposure to water. Archie Held, who creates fountains of exceptional beauty, uses only the best grades in his stainless steel water sculpture. Three-dimensional works may require many hours of design, engineering, precise fabrication and laborious finishing. Sculptors are often perfectionists and committed artists spend countless hours working out the details of their sculpture. Gale Wagner, who considers the final finish surface as important as the form, has used over twenty layers of paint on some of his sculpture. You could not count the layers, yet you can appreciate how perfectly the matte surface reflects the sky.
CREATING A BODY OF WORK: Very few sculptors sell all the works that they make and unlike a painting, a sculpture cannot just be whited out to start over. Even if a sculptor produces mostly site specific commissions, he or she also has to make some pieces on speculation since gallery curators and collectors have to see a body of work before making a selection. The investment can be phenomenal, especially if professional fabrication or casting is involved.
MAKING A LIVING FROM ART: A very small percentage of gifted, professional artists make a decent living from their art and unfortunately, most artists never find a personal art patron. In order to devote a lifetime to the pursuit of their passion, most sculptors must also teach or depend on other sources of income.
MANY YEARS OF TRAINING: When looking at a piece of sculpture, you may not always be aware of all these layers of cost, but please remember that in order to create this particular work of art, a highly imaginative and talented professional has spent many years of study and practice.