How to carve out a career in model making

In proportion

Sculptor Forest Rogers – as deft in two dimensions as she is in three – says those with a drawing or painting background are at an advantage when it comes to sculpture.

"To my mind," Forest says, "sculpture is much like drawing in 3D. An engaging thing, working to have all lines from all sides interwoven harmoniously and mindfully."

The American describes herself as a creator of "critters, both 'fine' and commercial." Her fantasy pieces are mostly one-of-a-kind, while commercial work focuses on "the dinosaur, wildlife and weird giftware markets."

"One thing that strikes me as a common problem for the novice is proportion. It's just not possible to cover up weak proportion with great detail. It will always undercut the hard work laid over it. Not necessarily realistic proportion, of course, but the rightness of it, that it works."

Tim's Marley is an example of the "strong voice" he says is crucial to successful sculpture

Tim's Marley is an example of the "strong voice" he says is crucial to successful sculpture

Materials and techniques

Forest also studies similar crafts – from jewellery makers to metal workers – to pick up new materials and techniques. "It's a great time to get involved in this field. If I were starting out, I'd gather samples of a lot of these materials and play with them. Have some fun with no pressure or commitment; see what suits your ideas."

John Fleskes, Spectrum art director, editor and publisher, isn't really interested in the materials used by sculptors, but rather how the artists have expressed themselves through their media.

John says: "When it comes to Spectrum submissions in the dimensional category, we encourage works that are created using clay, ceramic, wood, props, paper, cast resin, epoxy, fibreglass… anything that can be used to express the artist's vision and best resonate with an audience.

"This year we had life-sized creations by Joel Harlow included in Spectrum, which are made with silicone, acrylic – flesh, blood and bone! Dimensional work, I expect, will continue to thrill and surprise us for the foreseeable future."

The Shiflett's Komodo King was turned into a painted model and a limited edition bronze sculpture

The Shiflett's Komodo King was turned into a painted model and a limited edition bronze sculpture

Learning the business of art

Tim Bruckner's 40-year career has seen him work on everything from album covers to special effects. But sculpture is his speciality, and always has been. For those hoping to make a living from the art form, he has some sage advice: be strong in voice and shrewd in business.
"I admire artists like the Brothers Shiflett and Forest Rogers.

Their voice is so strong and individual and the quality of craft is inspiring. If you're making art for fun – that's one thing. But if you hope to make a living from it, you have to learn the business of art. Ask advice from professionals. Learn the processes of other sculptors. Learn how to mould, to cast, to finish, to paint.

"Explore different materials. Know what they can do; know what they can't do. The more you know, the more you'll be able to accomplish. You may not use half of the stuff you learn, but knowing gives you the option of not using it.

Not knowing it can make you vulnerable and can narrow your vision. And steal from really good dead guys: someone infinitely better that you'll ever be has already solved every design or compositional problem you'll face."

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