Children of Artists Carrying on their Parent’s Legacy

It is rare that an artist retires, so when sculptor Rob Fisher died suddenly of a massive heart attack at age 67 in 2006, he left five large-scale commissioned projects uncompleted. In most contracts to produce a new work of art, there is a clause to cancel the agreement in the event of the death of the artist, but Fisher’s family looked to maintain and extend his legacy. Over the ensuing six years, his son Brett and daughter Talley took over the process of completing these commissions and even to begin new projects that they themselves designed, however still under the imprimatur of Rob Fisher Sculpture. Continue reading

Working in a Sculpture Foundry

Casting Iron at Carrie Furnaces at the 26th International Sculpture Conference in Pittsburgh.

Casting Iron at Carrie Furnaces at the 26th International Sculpture Conference in Pittsburgh.

Cynics like to claim that a studio art degree is training for a life of unemployment, but many graduates of BFA and MFA programs find that they can put their technical skills to use, even if not directly towards their own fine art careers.

For instance, Sheryl Hoffman’s main interest at Cleveland State University (where she earned a BFA) and at Ohio State University in Columbus (where she received an MFA) was her sculpture, but the process of creating her mixed media pieces required her to learn welding and various casting techniques (plaster, sand and wax), which enabled her to find work in sculpture foundries after graduation. “While I was waiting for a teaching job to come along, I took up casting, because I knew how to do this,” she said. For eight years, she worked at several different Ohio-based foundries–Studio Foundry in Cleveland and David R. Kahn in Athens, among others–working with artists in their studios to create rubber molds of their work, then at the foundry making waxes and the investment that resulted in editions of their artwork. During those years, she earned between $20,000 and $30,000, depending upon how many jobs came in. Continue reading

Responding to Suggestions

suggestion-feature

Mark Hopkins, a sculptor in Loveland, Colorado, was offered a commission by the director of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, but the proposed subject was a bit odd. “He wanted me to do a sculpture of Noah’s Ark, including a dinosaur or two,” he said. (The Creation Museum “brings the pages of the Bible to life,” according to its Web site.) “I thought, ‘that’s ridiculous.’ I told him, ‘it will look like Dinotopia.’ It just wouldn’t make any sense, so I rejected the idea.” But he said it nicely, diplomatically, “something like, ‘Let me think about that for a while,’ because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.” Continue reading

The alternative art school movement

school-desks-feature

“Back to school” sounds good to children (who get to see their friends every day again) and to their parents (who get to not see their children for a number of hours every week day), but adults often find that their own schooling – say, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree – can be a hassle, what with the job, the kids, the cost of tuition, moving. Tuition for an MFA in sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art currently runs $43,760 for a full year (and it is a two-and-a-half year program), and then there are a range of required and optional fees, and we haven’t even gotten to food and accommodations. The low-residency MFA in studio art at the college is exactly half the cost of the full-time rate, which may be more palatable but still a big chunk of change. Continue reading

Is That an Insult?

feature1

It sometimes seems as though being an artist gives the rest of the world a license to be insulting, if unintentionally. Can you really make a living from this? Is that a cat? Could you do that in yellow? Wouldn’t it look better flipped on its side? Artists who sell directly to the public regularly face those and other questions and comments that seemingly denigrate their professionalism and their art. What’s more, the same questions get asked repeatedly by different people at exhibitions and fairs, which could turn sensitive souls sarcastic and mocking, hardly a good way to engender sales. Continue reading

Pet Portraiture

Sculpture

William Nedham’s A Toy Spaniel and a Springer Spaniel in a Landscape

Let’s talk about pet portraiture, a memorial in paint or metal of that other member of the family. The most common subject is a horse, followed closely by dogs and far behind is a wide range of creatures – cats, canaries, snakes, fish and whatever else people want in their homes. “Someone once painted a lizard, and we had a painting with a frog in it,” said Jaynie Spector, owner of the Charleston, South Carolina-based Dog and Horse Fine Art & Portraiture gallery, which represents “more than 30 artists across the United States and Europe” who specialize in animal art and take commissions for pet portraits. Most of those artists are painters, but some are sculptors who are asked to create a bronze of some animal that has passed away. Continue reading

When Artists Divorce

divorce-feature

How much more enjoyable it is to speak of love and marriage than of splitting up, but divorce happens, and it happens to artists at probably the same rate as for everyone else. Marital property – everything acquired during the marriage – needs to be divided in some way: the cars, the house, the bank account, the furniture. So, too, the artwork created by the artist-spouse, and along with the physical objects are current and future revenues from licensing as well as the copyright. Continue reading