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Giotto 03-16-2008 02:43 PM

Is anyone making any money ?
Hello Everyone

After viewing the website

Posted by Mountshang earlier I was surprised to find the sculpture so cheap. Many bronzes under $3,000. If the gallery takes 50% and the foundry 50% of the remainder that leaves less than $750 for the sculptor...then there are mold costs, studio, insurance etc etc. So I wonder is anyone making money ? I have notices Richard MacDonald has managed to create a nice market for his work but he seem to be one out of thousands. I'll go first and say that for me sculpture has been a vow of poverty.


grommet 03-16-2008 08:34 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
well, I've gotten pretty good at fives & tens and will try the twenties next. once you get the watermarks down... oh, that's probably not what you meant...
(just kiddding)

allenring 03-16-2008 09:52 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
grommet, twentys are tough, got that color shifting ink, security thread and watermark. Ones are easy but I can't get the cost per below $2.79, always want to use quality material you know. Even if I loose $1.79 on each bill I figure I can make it up in volume. Does that make me a good artist?

oscar 03-16-2008 10:20 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
I don't think that kitsch is worth a hundred bucks. Surely the casting is being done in China.

Giotto 03-18-2008 04:21 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
"Can I make a living sculpting" should be the second most important question for all of us. After the question "Is there a God"

I realized I asked a unanswerable question to this board because most of you associate income with success and aren't about to cop to being broke. My guess is that the percentage of those calling themselves sculptors, earning a living only with sculpture, is small....less than 10% and those earning what say a school teacher or engineer might earn is 1-2%

Comments ?


chris 71 03-18-2008 04:47 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
i haven't made a dime yet i still hope to some day.i read somewhere on here the key is to never give up. but i wonder how much is to do with where you are and who you know.

terracotta 03-21-2008 03:13 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
Yes the people who do the profiles for coins!

CroftonGraphics 03-25-2008 01:40 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
If I may add my 2 cents, lol.

During the last ten years I spent a lot of time making
3d short films in my spare time from my 'day job' in design. Although they got
into some festivals and I had good comments, they didnt earn me money directly. Although admitedly perhaps earned indirectly due to folio etc.

I havent yet sold sculptures as I havent put them into galleries and am taking a year or so to develop my ideas but I have made a few good sales of some city drawings. So they are a good bit of money for me between my 3d design jobs.

So far from them being yet earning me a full salary, my drawings so far help me to add to my money earned through design. Again I do not know so much about sculptures but there are quite a few painters/drawers around here who earn a good salary with what they do but they seam to market themselves a lot so its similar to business.

Ries 03-25-2008 01:56 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
Obviously, art is a very tough field to make a living in.
And most artists dont make much.

But certainly, a lot of artists do make some money, and a few make a lot.
The ones who are successful usually get a lot of backbiting from the ones who arent.

I know quite a few artists who make a living making art. Most share one thing in common- they are not to "politically correct" about what they do. They make all kinds of things, all kinds of compromises, and dont look back.
That may mean teaching a workshop, or selling crafty stuff online, doing public art, helping other artists to build work, or other similar, "non-pure" activities.

I have not had a "real" job since 1978.
I am sure a lot of stuff I have done, like making signs for a dress shop in a mall, or benches for a condo, or fabbing work for another artist, would draw the ire of some purists.
But it has all taken place on my terms, in my studio, with no other boss than my fallible self.
And thats the way I like it.

And now, after 30 years of it, yep, I am making money. Not a fortune, but enough to live on.
General rule of thumb I have heard is it takes 20 years to get to the point where you can make money.

Cantab 03-26-2008 04:06 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
There are two main issues here for me: one is: is your work 'marketable'? If so, then you can make money. Second: are galleries taking your work? If so, then you WILL make money.
If your'e not making money, then you are producing work that doesn't communicate. If it communicates, people will buy. How to communicate? Stand back from your work and think what others will feel about it. Forget about yourself for a minute. Will this sculpture be something someone out there will want to look at every day of their lives? Will it mean different things on different viewings, in different lights, in different situations? Does it add value to the situation? Will the whole family appreciate it? (Yes, your public will be spending money that the family owns). Does it speak to basic human needs? If your work does this, then the galleries will take it, and you make money.
There is a fine line between work that doesn't do any of this and work that does. Find the line and get on the right side of it. In the UK there is such a big market now for art, and just about anybody can afford to buy. I have galleries coming to ME and asking if I'll show my work with them now. Things have never been better for artists....

As for bronzes - an expensive process, and no emerging artist can afford to go there until the prices they can secure for their work will justify the costs of the process. On the other hand, stone is cheap. I buy good Italian marble for a euro a kilo. The rest is labour, and then having a market (and a gallery that can exploit that market).

chris 71 03-26-2008 08:30 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
i have 3 things in a local gallery. they have been there since the end of november haven't sold. a while back i thought i was going to have a show at a new gallery but it never came about. its a new place but ran into some snags and never did open..i live in a smaller city with a population of about 80 to 100 thousand people. there really is only one real gallery here. and its the one i have manged to get into.the rest are basically picture framing/gift shope type places. but there is a shop here that has beautifull wood and stone carvings from indonesia.some very nice things. from very good carvers maybe not truely artistic. but done by very skilled hands.the problem is that its so cheap. if i was to do a carving like the ones there it would take me so long i would probally make pennies per hour.i really need to somehow scratch out a living doing this . even if it means trying other aproches i ve talked to the owners of this store and they liked my things and iam sure i could put some there. so iam thinking along the lines of mold making and repoduction.there is also a stone carving sculpture show once a year that shows carvings from carvers from africa. again great stuff and this stuff does sell and for the good bucks. i called and asked if they might be willing to take on a locale carver as well. but they barely wanted even to talk to me. and sure not see my stuff. now i know its really only african carvings so i can understand my point here is just to show some of my difficallties. if i was inuit or african carver i could make a living for sure. i have strong native heratige one of my grandmothers was iroquoi and i contacted a native gallery. and again they thought my things would be marketable. but because i don't look native and there representing native art a no go. and when i have contacted some of the galleries in toronto. the closest big city to me. which is were i think i will have to go. and i haven't contacted too many yet. but they all seem very snobby. almost like how dare you contact us. but i bet if i was related to one of them our something i'd be in in a snap. which makes me think who you now could have have a real impact on succses. but anyways this is just my experince so far and iam not going to give up i gotta make it work some how i hope my blaberings here realate to this thread some way chris.

warren01 03-26-2008 09:10 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
Not sure who you are or how long you have been sculpting but how many pieces of art do you have available to sell right now, and total costs? No you do not need to answer but think about if you are going to make a living you need to have something to sell. Just three pieces in one gallery is not a lot of offering. You need to suffer (hate that word because we shouldn't) a while and put forth to make enough to have a good selection of work to choose from. Then promote yourself. Yes selling of your art takes about 30% of your time. This includes calls and mailings etc. If you review the website posted above it is a brokage house for the sculptors.
Here is what they say "QCFA's extensive website serves as an invaluable resource for private collectors, interior designers and landscape designers".
Notice nothing about just putting stuff in a gallery. I myself make money doing commission work and work with interior designers and such. Yes I do sell some in gallerys (surplus inventory), I enter some of those jury shows, and every three or four years do an street art fair.
Bottom line if you think your work is good then put it out for sell, not just waiting around for a gallery to sell it.

chris 71 03-26-2008 09:43 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
thanks for the advice warren01. i have about 20 things i think are marketable. i think i will most likely need about 100 or 200. spred out as far as possiable so one sells here and there. hopefully often enough to make a living.i am trying to get a website up as well. i started carving about 5 years ago. but most of all my work has been done in the last year .as this is when i started to want to get really serious about it. so i gotta get my butt of this computor and get out in the garage and get working at those other 80 or so carvings.i was just hopeing/dreaming that maybe i could be selling as i am producing.but i geuss its better to work on a really large body of work and then turn into the sales men .so if i can do one per week it should take a couple years to have the work needed. but it would be nice if i could get selling at the same time as iam working on them chris.

realsculpt 04-13-2008 12:23 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?

I am wondering the same thing. WOrked fulltime as an artist since i was 21. Finally at about 25 1995 started making good money for Orlando. as my own art i sold a few for good money privatly from my own website. In NY i did really well making enough to live comfortably as an medical prosthetics sculptor. Now in Seattle I am doing great, as a sculptor and moldmaker for company.

I have noticed that artists undervalue themselves and ruin the local market. Painters selling painting for material money cheapen sculptore prices, and visa versa. I urge artist to properly value thier work. Some even give thier stuff away...

For freelance and fineart I charge materials cost, if they are materials i already have from another job i still charge a replacment value then time that number by 25% to cover unseen costs, plus my hourly rate an hour depending on what the job is. If the gallery want 50% they can do the math, I would rather charge my rate and not sell, then loose money, i guess its a private decision to know what your worth, and when to lower your hourly rate or break even to get your name out there. There are some great books on business methods for artist out there. I always get a contract too, if they wont sign a contract with payment schedule its because they dont want to really pay you the agreed amount.

I just dont know is seattle has a market for my work....i guess i can always use them for door stops or bookends.

yes i am long winded but thats part of my charm

dilida 04-13-2008 07:41 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
I make a little money from selling my bronzes, my price range is 100.00-2000.00. The small stuff sells the most because of where I show my work, pretty much the middle of nowhere as far as the "art world" goes. But it's where I live, can't move, husband can't leave his job, older parents nearby also that we don't want to leave. I sold two small ones yesterday at an outdoor art show, for 175.00. Pays for gas and food and entry fee. BUT, another artist remembered one of my pieces from when it was in a show 4 years ago, and told me how much he liked it and remembered it, I met another moldmaking woman who had to give me a hug and called me sister, and said there isn't very many of us, one of my new little ones made so many people laugh, and that feels good. Not had the nerve yet to approach a gallery in a city, but a smalltown gallery sells something about once a month. My job at the foundry pasy less than 10 bucks an hour, no insurance, we have to earn our paid days off, BUT I get to cast most of my work for nada, zilch, (do all the labor of course), and right now I'm working on two clay enlargements that are such an honor to work on because of who the artist are, and what they have accomplished. Doing these enlargements are maybe really going to pan out in the long run. If I ever have the opportuntiy to do my own large, it won't be a technical learning experience. Making money is very important to me, BUT it always seems to be balanced by these other art related experiences that you can't put a price on. I want to say more, BUT have to get ready to go back to art show and maybe make a few dollars more. Ya'll have a good day!


SPRINGFIELD 04-13-2008 01:10 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
As Ries said it takes about 20 years to finally make good money as an artist.
That's probably why I wasn't so sucessful. After 16 years I gave up and got a job as a machinest working for a company.
The best advantage to working as an artist is how much you learn to appreciate being a wage slave. Compaired to scratching a living as an artest a regular job is godsend. I'm glad that I gave art a shot because otherwise I would always feel bad that I didn't follow my dreem and it brought me a lot of personal grouth and experiences. I'm also glad that I finaly gave it up and got a regular job. Now that I have applied for my social security I could sure have used those 16 productive years making some real money and paying into my social security fund.
This may sound like some people to be a cop out. But I have heard it mentioned that if you want to be sucessful as an artist you need to make the kind of art that people are ready to buy. If this wasn't the kind of art that I wanted to do than what's the point? Personally it would bother me far more to compromise my art just to make a meager living than to become a wage slave and work for somewone else.

tonofelephant 04-13-2008 02:16 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
You have to either make the work people like or turn the equation around and find the people that like your work. The same thing really.


andycov 04-18-2008 04:36 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
As I live in Australia it is very hard to make money out of art but being a small population does have some advantage of making a name for yourself.Though really miss the intelect, quality,and inspiration of overseas sculpure.
Due to health reasons I had to use my art to make a living so I make moulds for other artists and designers , cast bronze on a small level and do alot of work for with resin bonded agrigates and such.For me I do not consider this "un pure" but more an advantage in that I am not doing the not so related 9 to 5 job.But still there is the loss of time to commit to my own sculpture and once started its so hard to stop and put your attention to something else.
To me it is all part of the passion and the love of creation and beauty.The determination and commitment from not allways just oneself but friends and family also.It is a dedication to life and not just time and even maybe the journey that can raise conciousness.
So to make money or make a living? I say yes.

Landseer 04-21-2008 12:46 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
I make decent money on my art, the economy hasn't affected my sales at all, if anything they have increased.
I get up this morning and there's an email from the system telling me one sold while I slept, and then at lunch time I rec'd the check a client said she was mailing for NINE concrete keystones for her new brick house going up, and then I check my email again just now and another item sold and paid.

Glad to get the credit card paid way down, and next week paid OFF.
But I'm going to be buying an $1800 kiln this summer and no doubt I'll need another pallet of hydrocal which is probably going to be around that much too.

ssculptor 05-08-2008 09:06 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
As an artist I have always been a non-profit organization. I did not meant it to be that way, that's just how it worked out.:)
When I had that moment in life where I realized that I was an artist I then asked myself how do I make a living? Then I thought that I will teach art and that will be a job that will enable me to make a living and support both my sculpture and my family. My naivety was understandable as I was young (22) and single. At no time did I ever envisage being able to make a living with my sculpture.
I did hope to become rich and famous as an artist. Hey, I was only 22, I was still a child.
So I went on for a Masters in sculpture so I could teach in a college somewhere. But I also wanted to live in or near New York City, the Mecca for artists. Lessee now, there must be 10,000 Master of Art degree holders who want to teach in New York City. With maybe a dozen college type schools in the place that makes competitoin just a bit fierce.
I ended up with a teaching job in an adult training branch of the State U in Brooklyn but I was teaching drafting. Then I switched to teaching math and then computer drafting at the school. I taught there for 37 years. All the while I was trying to show my artwork in Manhattan galleries.
Gradually I learned and then accepted the fact that to get "known" in Manhattan one has to live there. Like all human activities, its who you know that means anything. To make the necessary contacts one has to live there and mingle with the right people in the art world. I hate even walking through giant cities like NY so I settled in Connecticut and commuted to work.
I have had one man shows in Manhattan, I have been in numerous group shows there. I maintain my membership in a co-op gallery in Lower Manhattan. My work does not sell. I even had an agent for a few years. He finally gave up. He said the only way to sell work would be for me to have a studio there where he could take clients who want to buy the work of NY artists. To most monied collectors of art you are not a real artist unless you have a studio in New York. I could not afford a studio in NY and a home in Connecticut. Not even a small fake studio.
Now, after 45+ years as an unsold but often shown sculptor I still make my art and I show my work. I had and raised a family which is one of the things I wanted to do in life. I retired from teaching but I still make money as a free-lance draftsman.
What can I say, that's life.

sculptorsam 05-08-2008 09:24 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
Thanks for your story, ssculptor and welcome to the site. I look forward to seeing some examples of your work.

oscar 05-08-2008 11:03 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
Hey ssssculptor, I know what ya mean of not realizing the young dream of being rich and famous. I had several professors in college tell me if I wanted to make it in the arts, to not get married or have kids. It's tough looking back wondering if you made the right decisions. Has my 20 years of barely getting by as a fulltime fine artist been worth not having kids or a wife? Had I gone to a private college would they have been more sympathetic to my bipolar and not throw me out thus allowing me to graduate and teach?

I still want to be rich and famous. You should also! It's time to look back at everything you did and pick out the great things. Look back at your best work. Grab all those key elements that made that work good. Compile them. Sleep on them. Put them all in that mental blender that rests on your shoulders. Then mold the best work you have ever done. It's never to late to become rich and famous! Go get 'em!

fritchie 05-08-2008 06:25 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
Ssculptor, I replied elsewhere to your slightly earlier post, so I'll mostly say again here, thanks for joining, and please do show some of your work.

On your other points, one of the things I have learned here is that many of your comments on Manhattan are correct. However, persistence, with exposure increasing in scale from local to regional and then possibly larger, do seem to have lead to fine careers and sales elsewhere for some of our members. Many can tell similar stories about effort and drive. The important thing, in my mind, is to be satisfied yourself with what you have done.

Musicman92130 05-09-2008 03:33 AM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
As I read through these posts I read a lot of self-limiting beliefs. I believe your beliefs become your reality. One of the most powerful books I read was Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It says if you want to succeed you make a solid committment and failure is not an option, you will do whatever it takes. An anology is if you sail off to war and once you reach the shore you burn the boat.

I have only been sculpting for four years but I have been working toward the goal of quitting my job to sculpt full time. I have a 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year goals. I have a business and marketing plan and have made a budget of how much I will invest before I start making money. Failure is not an option.

And I know a lot of sculptors who do very well, my own aunt lives very comfortably as a sculptor in Santa Fe and I have met others who do the same. I have no doubt I will succeed because I will never give up. I remember what Lincoln Fox told me about the business "You can become rich doing this or go broke, it is up to you"


Tired Iron 05-09-2008 09:11 PM

Re: Is anyone making any money ?
It is self employment, and like all self employed people ,if you don't put in 18 hours a day.........then there is that old line, Location, location, location.

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