Month: June 2011

Bad berries Strawberry carving

Bad berries Strawberry carving

Occasionally, I get carried away when it comes to carving new forms of ephemeral art. This day was no exception. I still have no idea if there will ever be a demand for this type of art but I said the same thing 20 years ago when I started sculpting with snow. So here it is, my first attempt at strawberry carving. This piece was completed in about 5 minutes. He looks a little grumpy but I can assure  you he was very sweet!

strawberry carving

 

bad berry strawberry carving

 

carving strawberries

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Tips on hiring a professional sand sculptor

Tips on hiring a professional sand sculptor

Just to make things clear, yes I do own a professional sand sculpting company and yes, I do want you to consider my company when ever you think about hiring a sand sculptor.  However, there are many times when I will refer a client to another company if I know they will be in good hands, treated fairly and get the same consideration that I would offer them.  Due to my busy schedule, there are some projects I must turn away. Rather than let my client endure the painful search of finding a sculptor that will satisfy their needs, I would rather refer them to someone who I know operates on the same high level of standards that I follow. I have forged many great client relationships following this rule and feel that this practice  benefits not only the client and the artists involved  but the industry of sand sculpting as a whole. That is  where the idea to write this blog post came from. I realise that many clients will miss the opportunity to contact me for one reason or another. Hopefully by reading this post it will give them the tools to help them during the sometimes confusing process of hiring a professional sand sculptor. So here are some top tips from Fitzy the Snowman that will surely make your search for a great professional sand sculptor a little less painful.

  1. Know your budget Even if you haven’t decided on a final budget for your project, you should at least have a vision of the scale of your project. By knowing the scale of the project and it’s level of importance to the over all event or presentation, the artist will have critical information needed to present several options that will fit that need.
  2. References and examples Don’t be afraid to ask for references. I am always more than happy to provide references on request and have created a whole page of testimonials  for my potential clients to review. Also, ask if the art samples you are viewing  on a company’s website are done by that artist that will be working at your event.  Many companies  use sculptors for hire. This a common practice and one that I do not particularly frown upon unless there is not full disclosure to the client prior to booking. About 95%  of the work featured on my site was created by myself or my very talented  wife of 24 years. If a client is taken by a particular sculpture that was created by one of my associates, I always make the best effort to make a direct referral to that artist.
  3. Know who you are hiring To elaborate on what I’ve mentioned in the previous paragraph, It is important to know who will actually be creating your project. If the person you are speaking with is not the artist who will be creating your project, be sure to ask to see examples  of the artists work and how long this person has been working a professional sand sculptor. There are a few companies that have a history of sending underqualified artists out to projects. Many problems can arise from this practice other than the obvious poor quality of work. It takes many years to develop the skills to operate as a professional sand sculptor. Even if the person is an extremely talented artist, there are many other skills required to make a project run smoothly. Without the necessary experience of dealing with logistical issues, having strong communication skills and the ability to problem solve, new artists can quickly get overwhelmed with a project. I make it a strict rule to only work with the most experienced and talented artists in the industry. We also run extensive background checks on all the artists  that we contract and maintain a no tollerance drug policy.
  4. Best Business Practices Realistically there are only a handful of legitimate professional sand sculpting companies in the US. When searching for professional sand sculpting companies however, you may reveal hundreds of results. So how do you distinguish the real companies from the part-time hobbyist? The easiest way is to ask for a certificate of insurance from the artist. Only companies with active business licences can obtain liability insurance. This will also protect you and your company in the event of an unexpected accident or mishap. I’m proud to report that I have maintained a spotless safety record since my company was established in 2000. That said, accidents do happen and it’s always a good idea to request this document.
  5. Trust your instincts Once you have narrowed your search to a few top results, it’s time to establish your initial contact. Whether you do this by email or by phone, it’s important to pay attention to the details of that first contact and simply trust your instincts. In my experience, a delay in more than 24 hours to respond to an email or phone call is a bad sign. In any business it is critical to maintain an open line of communication with your clients at all times. Of course there are always exceptions to this rule, but if you are having a difficult time on the second or third attempt it’s probably wise to move on in your search.
  6. Look for a diverse portfolio When you are searching for someone to create that perfect sand sculpture you probably have a specific idea in mind. If not, you want to be confident that the artist you are working with will be able to provide a wide range of options. If all you see are castles and you are looking for a classical greek depiction, these guys may not be for you. Another thing to look for are artists that are skilled in multiple mediums. Artists that work in more than one medium tend to be more creative and flexible. This also gives you the convenience of one stop shopping. You may find that in addition to needing a sand sculpture exhibition that you also need an ice sculpture for a cocktail party. At Fitzy Snowman Sculpting , we offer many different carved mediums such as sand, snow, ice, pumpkins and many types of fruit.
  7. Be realistic Calling me or any professional sand sculptor a week before a special event or promotion is not the best idea. Often there are multiple issues that need to be solved, not to mention, there really aren’t a lot of us out there, so the chances of landing someone truly talented are very slim. Also, keep in mind that you are hiring a performance artist. I don’t know this for sure, but I imagine Leonardo may have gotten a little grumpy if you wanted to ask him repeated questions while he was painting the Sistine Chapel. Professional sand sculptors thrive in that enviroment. Your event is our studio and your guests are there for us to entertain. That kind of talent is hard to find, and doesn’t come at discount prices. Sand sculpture represents one of the best values in experiential marketing and performance entertainment. If you follow this simple guide you will get to experience that value first hand. Or just give me a call, I’ll explain  everything… One Grain at a time!
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Green Lantern Power Ring

Green Lantern Power Ring

Another one of my favorite comics is  the Green Lantern. I’m not sure how true to  the original story the new movie will be, but I’m already impressed with the new design for Hal Jordan’s Power Ring.  For those of you not familiar with the story, Hal was the first human to be selected to join the elite corp of Green Lanterns.  I’ve always wanted to design a ring in Cinema 4D so this was a perfect opportunity. Here are a few screen shots of my initial attempts. Once I have the ring prototype created I’ll repost this article with new pictures or the actual ring. For now here are the 3D renderings.

Green Lantern Power Ring

 

 Green Lantern Power Ring Fully charged

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Happiness is a Decision

Happiness is a Decision

Of all the emotions we humans experience, happiness seems to be the most illusive. All of us, or hopefully most of us, have experienced moments in life that we feel truly happy. For many people these moments fade  quickly when they are confronted with the next obstacle, tragedy or dilemma. Just to be clear, I am not a doctor, psychologist or expert on human behavior. What I am, is an observer of life. Having experienced many losses, obstacles and dilemmas of my own, I don’t consider my life experiences unique, but  rather average. You see, as humans, we all have these battles we face in life. We will all at one time or another experience loss, tragedy and struggles. It’s how we deal with these struggles that determine our overall happiness.

 DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF By looking at the big picture and taking time to appreciate the many blessings that each one of us has in life we can shift our perception of overall happiness. If you spend your days focused on your daily struggles instead of taking time to appreciate things like your health, your family and your friends, than your chances for overall happiness drop significantly.  Each one of us needs to take a few minutes each day to focus on one or more positive things in his or her life. By doing this you are making a conscious decision to be happy.

I HATE MY JOB It is a well documented fact that many Americans are unhappy with their current job or position at their place of employment. Being unhappy at your place of employment is similar to having a chronic illness. There are only two solutions to this problem. In order to determine which solution is right for you need to consider the source of your unhappiness. If you like your position and what you are doing, then most likely, the source of your unhappiness is in your work environment or perhaps the process you are required to follow. By first identifying the source of the problem and then making a rational list of possible solutions you will have the necessary tools to confront your employer to initiate positive change. If you simply confront your employer with a blanket statement of  “I’m unhappy and I don’t know what to  do”, you can expect a response that is very similar to your statement. By taking the time to examine possible solution you will, at the very least, be able to start an open dialog to initiate  a solution.

 The other possible source of your unhappiness is that you simply have grown tired, lost interest or simply had a different perception of what your job was going to be like. One of the biggest questions facing everyone is ,”What do I want to be when I grow up?” Many of us choose a career based on financial successes. Too often we overlook the most important question when choosing a career path and that is ” How will this position fulfill my personal goals, dreams and passion?”  The solution to this problem is a bit more complex and requires a lot of self-reflection. By focusing on what you are truly passionate about you will be able to define a clear picture of possible career paths.  Here is a basic scenario. You spent many years going to nursing school, get a job in a prestigious medical practise and after a few days, weeks, months or even years, you suddenly realise that you hate nursing!  You could just suck it up and carry on with your initial career path, or if you really want to be happy you can take action. Perhaps you like painting or riding horses or camping. What ever it is that  you find comfort in, has the potential to become a successful career path. Take a serious look at these passions and consider all the possible ways you could take these interests and support your self  by doing what it is that you already love doing. I’m not recommending that you immediately quit your job as a nurse and jump blindly into the horse breeding business. Rather I’m suggesting that you try new things, experiment with these passions  in your spare time. Most importantly, what I’m suggesting, is that you make time for yourself to try these new things.

OVER COMING FEAR Fear is the number one obstacle that prevents most of us from achieving true happiness. The fear of failure often stands in the way of us trying new things. In order to over come this fear you need to be willing to accept the possibility of not succeeding on your first, second or even 100th attempt. It took Thomas Edison 1400 attempts to invent the lightbulb. Imagne if he gave up after only a few tries.  Failure is a necessary step in success. The important thing is to learn from your failures as well as the failures of other. Research your passion. Talk to others in the field. Don’t be afraid to ask what you may perceive as a dumb question. The only dumb question is the one not asked.

THE JOY IN HELPING OTHERS Sometimes it’s the little gestures in life that can change your day. Holding a door for a perfect stranger or spending time with an elderly neighbor can brighten that person’s day as well as your own. Consider how you can use your talents to help others. Write a blog, paint a picture, lead a class field trip. You will find that perhaps the most rewarding thing in life is spreading happiness to others. Be conscious of people around you. Happiness can be contagious, help spread some today…. One Grain at a Time!

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