Art takes time to create.
It’s true that some art comes together quickly and with little effort, just as it’s true that some art takes a long time and a massive amount of effort to create. The length of time needed to create and complete each piece is dependent on a number of factors ranging from the artist’s level of creativity and motivation to the ease of finding the required materials to whether or not real life stuff (family commitments, dentist appointments, trips to the grocery store) is making it difficult for the artist to spend the time they need in the studio creating.
It’s rare that a person can look at a piece of art and accurately guess exactly how much time was spent bringing it to life. A seemingly “simple” painting of a sunset may have taken the artist months and months to create, while a complex abstract sculpture combining a number of materials and mediums may have taken another artist only a few weeks to create.
When people see my sculptures, they generally figure that it probably took me quite a while to create them. It’s rare that I tell people exactly how long it took me to create my pieces because, quite frankly, most people equate time with money. If I say a piece only took me a week to create (this is NEVER the case, by the way), some potential clients will complain that I am charging too much for my work because, “It didn’t really take you that long to make it – why is it soooooo expensive?”
While I may not reveal how many weeks or months a particular piece may have taken me to create, I always share my process with clients so they understand how much work actually goes into creating my art. I want clients to understand that the price of my work is directly linked to a number of factors including my expertise (18 years), money I personally invested in acquiring the stone, hours spent sculpting, sanding and refining the piece and financial investment in the tools I need to do my job, just to name a few.
Without revealing too many secrets of my trade, here are the steps that go into creating my art:
- Taking an inventory of tools – After each piece, I have to take inventory of my tools in order to determine if I need to replace anything. Stone is incredibly hard on tools and the tools I need to do my job aren’t cheap. If I don’t have the proper tools to do the job, then I can’t do the job.
- Trips to the quarry to pick stone – This step involves a lot more than just showing up at the quarry and throwing rocks into my vehicle to bring home. The first thing I have to do is rent a trailer to bring the loads of stone back from the quarry to my studio. I often spend several days (sometimes up to a week) at the quarry searching for the most perfect and beautiful stones for my pieces. If the stone is in a precarious part of the quarry, I have to hire the necessary people and equipment to extract the stones I want.
- Bulking out the piece – I look at my stone and let the stone tell me what it wants to become. Some stones are perfect for otters and owls, while others are better suited for abstract forms. I learned a long time ago that I can’t force a stone to become what I want to be – the stone is always going to tell me what I can and can’t do with it. I use my quick-cut saw to bulk out my pieces and this process can take a few days or more, depending on the integrity of the stone and my ability to manipulate it.
- Fine tuning the piece – Once the piece is bulked out and it can be moved inside my studio, I move on to fine tuning the stone with my grinders and Foredom. This can be a time consuming process, especially if the stone I am working with is really hard (stay tuned for a future post that explains the hardness of the stone I work with). This process often takes several more days, depending on what I am creating.
5. Sanding – This is probably the most time consuming part of my entire process and the part I dislike the most. My sculptures are well-known for their smoothness and shine and this is only achieved by wet-sanding each piece, by hand, using a number of different grits of sandpaper. Depending on the size of the piece and the hardness of the stone, this process can take several days or even weeks.
7. Polishing and Assembling – Once the piece is sanded, I move on to polishing it and putting it together (if it is a piece that sits on a base or is a piece featuring multiple stones).
8. Photographing and Posting Online – After the piece is all put together and ready to go to the client, my wife and I photograph it and then post the images on our website, which you can find here and on all of our social media pages.
All art is valuable, whether it took 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 months to create. As artists, it is our mission and our job to create beautiful pieces for people to enjoy, admire and add to their collections. Whether you’re a painter, a sculptor, a potter or a jewelry-maker, your life’s work is pouring every bit of yourself, your time, and your effort into your artistic creations and you don’t have to justify the value of that work, time and effort.
It’s hard to put a price on creativity but if you’re an artist, the first step is realizing that your creativity, time, and effort ARE worth something and then not being afraid to demand a fair price for the pieces of yourself you put into each and every work of art you create.