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Sculptor

Sculptors create original 3-dimensional artworks in traditional media (for example, wood, clay, metal and stone) and non-traditional media (for example, light and virtual reality).

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 1,800
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Artisan, Artist, Carver, Caster, Ceramicist, Metal Worker, Modeller, Potter, Smith, Wood Worker

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Sculptors (5136.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Painters, Sculptors and Other Visual Artists (F036) 
  • 2011 NOC: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists (5136) 
  • 2016 NOC: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists (5136) 
Interest Codes
The Sculptor is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Sculptors
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing ideas to create artistic forms from metal, stone and other materials in order to express ideas, feelings and moods by shaping, carving and sculpting materials such as clay, ice, paper, stone, wood and metal

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to carve and shape materials to desired forms using hand and power tools, welding and metalworking equipment, and masonry tools

methodical

Interest in speaking with models when directing them to pose; and in using established techniques of sculpting and arranging objects for compositions

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated May 20, 2021

The boundaries between categories in the visual arts are much less distinct today than they once were. Traditionally, sculptors have used materials that can be physically manipulated or shaped by processes such as:

  • Cutting, drilling, grinding, turning or sawing
  • Casting slurries or melted materials from moulds
  • Moulding by hand (called throwing when done on a spinning base, such as with pottery)
  • Carving (also called etching, inscribing or relief carving when done on surfaces)
  • Casting, spinning, rolling, drawing, pressing or blowing (for forming of heated glass)
  • Forging, or smithing (heating to make more pliable, then applying force to shape before it cools)
  • Gluing, cementing, plastering, laminating or other adhering techniques
  • Weaving, braiding, sewing, splicing or knitting
  • Welding, soldering or fusing
  • Chemical reactions (such as using resins or epoxies. Some reactions are initiated by applying heat, such as with firing ceramics or tempering steel)

Sculptors may work with traditional materials, such as stone, bronze, glass, concrete, wood, clay and plaster. Today, many sculptors use or incorporate materials and methods normally associated with other disciplines. For example, they may work in, and experiment with, photography, metals of all kinds, fired ceramics, electricity, video and digital media, sound, wax, ice, plastics, performance art, fibre, textiles and other materials. They may produce only one or a limited number of copies of each piece of work.

Some sculptors design their work entirely on a computer, using computer aided design (CAD) software, then fabricate their sculptures with digital tools. For example, they might use computer numeric controlled (CNC) machines, 3D printers or computer-controlled laser cutters. Others may create the design using software and then use conventional methods to produce the work.

Digital tools allow sculptors to:

  • Fabricate artworks that previously were impossible to create by conventional means
  • Produce accurate models for presentation
  • Work out design problems before creating the sculpture
  • Position the proposed work in the desired context before producing it
  • Produce digital animations of the work positioned on the site to give clients an idea of what the work will look like
  • Produce multiple copies accurately

Sculptures can range in size from a small coin to several hundred acres of “live art.” Today’s sculptors experiment in new and emerging areas using different materials, installation techniques and mixed-media applications. In some cases, sculptors enlist the help of engineers, programmers, mechanics and other technical experts.

Kinetic sculptures are ones that do not remain stationary; they move or change according to external forces applied, such as wind, sun, rain or temperature. They may also move due to winding up, dropping or moving a part to initiate mechanical reactions from the rest of the piece. Some modern sculptors strive to involve the audience in kinetic works. Instead of treating the viewer as a passive observer of a piece, some sculptures are meant to be touched, played with and can even change or react uniquely according to audience interactions with it.

Many sculptors study different techniques and experiment with materials and processes on an ongoing basis. They keep up to date with what is going on in the art world by reading and attending exhibitions at art galleries.

Working Conditions
Updated May 20, 2021

Sculptors’ working conditions vary with their media. They may use a variety of hand and power tools. Some materials and tools require attention to safety practices to prevent injury.

Studios may be clean and well ventilated, or they may have less-than-ideal working conditions. Flying particles, sharp tools, falling objects, fumes, heat and chemicals are common occupational hazards. Sculptors may work at home, wherever large pieces are situated or in studios located in artist-run centres or warehouses.

The work can be physically demanding. Lifting requirements vary depending on the medium.

  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Skills & Abilities
Updated May 20, 2021

Sculptors need:

  • Artistic talent and creativity
  • Initiative, self-discipline and determination
  • Knowledge of various materials’ properties and their structural limitations
  • Self-promotion and marketing skills
  • Budgeting and time-management skills
  • An awareness of safety equipment and procedures, and how to handle chemicals and materials safely
  • The ability to translate their ideas into finished products
  • The ability to critique their own work
  • The ability to communicate their ideas on paper, to prepare proposals, and discuss their work with potential clients
  • The ability to deal with criticism

They should enjoy working independently and with others, finding innovative ways to present ideas, and using a methodical approach to tasks.

Educational Requirements
Updated May 20, 2021

There are no formal education requirements for sculptors. However, they need:

  • Some knowledge of art history, composition and contemporary art criticism
  • A portfolio of their best work (for example, a website with biographical information, digital images or videos of artwork and other relevant information)
  • Training in the safe use of materials, tools and equipment
  • Small business skills, such as marketing and financial management

Prospective sculptors should look for education programs that offer the best blend of technical and creative course materials for their particular interests and needs. Some galleries prefer to feature sculptors who have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fine arts.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Grande Prairie Regional College

Grant MacEwan University

Keyano College

Portage College

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 20, 2021

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 20, 2021

Sculptors may receive commissions or fees paid in advance that allow them to buy materials and cover some living expenses while they finish a site-specific or major work. However, few sculptors can support themselves on their artwork alone. Many cover living costs and studio rent by:

  • Teaching recreational, secondary school or post-secondary courses, or offering workshops
  • Working in fabrication shops or foundries
  • Doing related work, such as mass production design or mould making

Private buyers or public works committees may commission sculptures, or sculptors may sell their work in retail markets, from their home studios or through agents. They also may display their art in:

  • Galleries and museums
  • Restaurants and clubs
  • Office buildings and public spaces
  • Parks, exhibit grounds and international expositions

Sculptors may market or promote their work through online digital media. Sometimes, filmmakers rent available ready-made sculptures.

Emerging sculptors can get a start by entering art competitions, art festivals or arranging their own shows in their homes or artist-run centres. Before approaching gallery owners, sculptors should do some research to identify galleries that have a style compatible with their own. Sculptors usually have 1 gallery representative per city.

The Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts purchase artworks and offer grants for promising sculptors to enable them to study and work for a few months or a year at a time.

Sculptors are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5136: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists. In Alberta, 76% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5136: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.7% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 57 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated May 20, 2021

Some sculptors receive commissions or fees paid in advance that allow them to buy materials and cover some living expenses while they finish site-specific or major works.

Sculpture prices vary considerably depending on the sculptor’s reputation, size of the piece, materials used and availability of the sculptor’s work. Most galleries deduct a commission ranging from 50% to 70%.

A few well-established sculptors hire agents to handle marketing, bookkeeping and sales transactions. Agents may take a 20% to 40% commission.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 20, 2021

Alberta Foundation for the Arts website: www.affta.ab.ca

Alberta Society of Artists website: www.albertasocietyofartists.com

Canada Council for the Arts website: canadacouncil.ca

Sculptors’ Association of Alberta website: sculptors-alberta.com

Sculptors Society of Canada (SSC) website: www.sculptorssocietyofcanada.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated May 20, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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