To Career or Not to Career

When I meet someone for the first time I am usually asked what I do for work. I begin to inform them that I have several jobs and one that I am very passionate about. This intrigues them a little and they then ask, "Great! What kind of job is it?" I reply back "I am an artist." This is soon followed by some giggles or snide comments such as, "Being an artist isn't work. Any one can be an artist. That isn't a real job!"

This usually starts us off on a bad foot, my blood pressure starts to rise and I just remind myself that some people don't understand that work and effort that an artist puts into their work. It doesn't matter the medium that is used, artist generally spend long tiring hours doing their work. Some do not even sleep much because a problem with their project is keeping them awake. Here is a little insight into what is involved in being an artist.


If you are a sculptor who works with plaster then there is long hours prepping your material. Plaster takes time to mix and pour. Once poured there is normally a 12 hour curing time before you begin carving it. Once cured the carving can then begin. A standard hammer for carving is about two pounds which doesn't seem like much, BUT after you swing a two pound hammer for about four or six hours you feel like you just use Paul Banyan’s Ax for the past four hours. You wake up the next morning with sore muscles, arms, hands, shoulders and some muscles you didn’t event know that you had and you start thinking wonder why you do this. You then go back, grab your hammer and start your day again.

Once you have you your plaster roughed out in the basic shape it is time to grab your files and rasp and start shaping. This is another muscle tiring repetitious exercise. If your muscles were sore before you just made matters worse. This process could only take a few hours or a day or two. At this point your sculpture is looking good but still needs more, much more, work. Now comes the sanding, another piece of repetition. A few more hours of work and you think you are done.

There is always a chance that some unforeseeable accident will occur and break your sculpture. Talk about your blood pressure sky rocketing. All of these hours and now your left with something that you have aching muscles over and it is broke. The past 2 weeks are lying on your workbench and you panic. Now comes the stressful part of trying to fix it. Your try every thing you can to put it back together. If you are lucky it was a clean break and it is possible to fix it. So you start drilling and adding plaster and building up the areas that you have removed loads of material from. Finally after two or three days you are fixed but now you have all of this extra plaster in an area that was carved, filed, and sanded and you have to redo that work all over again.

After all the busted knuckles, pounded thumbs, sore muscles and severe stress you have a finished piece and you are ready to start next one. That’s right all this work was just for one piece so now here come piece number two.

It is not unusual for galleries to want 15, 20 or even 30 pieces for a show. For a sculptor you are talking three months to have enough pieces for one event and if you are lucky to have one every three months then you are doing this day in and day out.

So the next time you want to say that being an artist is not a real job, just think how hard sculptors or any artists work at preparing for a show.

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