Tag: sand sculpting

Professional Sand Sculpting

Professional Sand Sculpting

 

In a world were almost every sand sculptor can call them self a Master Sculptor, there is at least one artist who has the common sence to shun the term. Sean Fitzpatrick, owner and founder of Fitzysnowman.com has sculpted sand for over 20 years and admittedly is still learning new things about the medium. When asked about the commonly used term, “Master Sculptor” this is what he had to say. “I believe the term was originally used to describe the artists of the renaissance period. These artists were most likely still learning as well, but having been commissioned by the Vatican, it gave them a status that other artists of the period could aspire to. In the sand sculpting world, the term is loosely used to differentiate the different categories in a contest. For the same reason the term is used to describe artists that perform at the highest level. In recent years however the term has lost its meaning and even artists with lower skill sets have adopted the title.”

professional sand sculpting
25 ton recarve sand sculpture rear view.

So how do you know who to hire for your next sand sculpting project given this information? The simple answer is to search for a true professional. A professional sand sculptor is easily identified. They work full-time at his or her craft. You won’t find weekend enthusiasts in this category! They operate their business at the highest level and always give their clients more than they expect. They are courteous, intelligent, friendly, interactive with guests and always own up to their mistakes , correcting them immediately without attempting to shift blame. Professional sand sculptors carry insurance and are fully licensed. They proudly display their own work on their websites and update them regularly. Professional sculptors follow-up immediately on your first request for information. They are knowledgable about all aspects of the industry and can handle  almost any logistical challenge thrown at them. Professional sand sculptors only hire and work with other professional sand sculptors. If you are given an unususlly low price, you should be very cautious. Sand sculpting companies that offer steep discounts typically hire lower quality sculptors in the hopes that your expectations are very low. In the end you will need to trust your gut. There is a lot to be said about first impressions. Make a few calls and test the waters. Then give Sean Fitzpatrick a call and ask him why its better to hire a professional than a Master! You’ll be happy you did. He will earn your business, one grain at a time.

Sean Fitzpatrick can be reached day or night 7 days a week at sean@fitzysnowman.com or directly at 781-249-1494.

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How 9-11 Changed my life

How 9-11 Changed my life

I have never shared this story with anyone outside of my family circle. I thought today would be a fitting day to do just that. This story actually starts in 2000 a full year prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001. I was working as an automotive technician at a local Ford Dealer in the Boston area. I had recently discovered the art of sand and snow sculpting and was contemplating if I would ever be able to transition from my job as a full-time mechanic to full-time artist. The idea of supporting a family of five by selling snow sculptures did not impress many people as a very popular business plan so I decided that I would stick to my day job to raise my family and only focus part-time on my artistic endeavours.

Fast forward to September 12, 2001. There are few things capable of completely changing one’s outlook on life. The events of September 11th 2001 were certainly more than enough to create a cause to pause and reflect on one’s life. I can’t say that immediately after the events unfolded on that tragic day that I somehow knew that I would be making a life altering decision in the near future. I did  know deep down that life as we all knew it would be changing. Perhaps it was that knowledge alone that drove me to be in control of exactly how my life would change.

As the surreal images continued to flood the airways and fill television screens for what seemed like endless hours , days and weeks on end, the image of how my life would change direction began to take shape. Out of the suffering of others, I felt a deep need that demanded to be filled. Now more than ever I was more focused on sharing my art with the world. Art, much like music has the ability to inspire others.Ithas the innate ability to uplift he spirit and help heal. i could see no other direction that my life could possibly take from there after.

Fast forward to September 12, 2011. As I sit here typing these words, a full 10 years and one day later, I know that I have been transformed by those events. I have since devoted my full-time career to my art. In 2006 after several years of increased focus pushed unconsciously by way of the events of 9-11, I successfully made the transition to a full time artist. It is only now that I see that. It would seem, to me any way, that tragedy can also be a powerful motivator. Some how I know that I am not alone and that countless others have walked on the same path. I think we all owe that to those that gave their lives on that day.

On September 17, 2011 I will be unveiling a special sand sculpture dedicated to everyone living and deceased that have been touched by the events of 9-11. At The 2nd Annual Braveheart Awards I am hoping to continue to uplift and inspire everyone in attendance… one grain at a time!

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The story behind the logo of the World Championship of Sand Sculpting

The story behind the logo of the World Championship of Sand Sculpting

 To the average person looking at this logo for the first time, it may seem a bit unremarkable. The very nature of the design doesn’t necessarily bring sand sculpting to mind, but  show this logo to most professional sand sculptors  and you will get an immediate reaction. This simple design, that was officially reintroduced to the world of professional sand sculpting in the summer of 2010, symbolizes the very best of professional sand sculpting.  

The story of just how this logo came to be starts in the mid 80’s when a man by the name of Joe Maize had the design  etched onto t-shirts at one of the very first professional sand sculpture events in Harrison Hot Springs, BC.  I never had the opportunity to meet Joe, but just ask anyone who has and you will get a sence of what kind of impact he made on everyone he came in contact with. His outrageous sence of humor and dry, say it like it is attitude were his personal  trademarks. Sadly, the world lost Joe to cancer in August of 2006. He was just 52.

Photo Courtesy of Carl Jara

When I learned that the World Championship was moving to the US in 2010, I immediately asked how I could help. Because I had experience with  graphic design, I was tasked with designing a website and more importantly restoring the logo that Joe had created all those years ago. The original drawing I had to work with was nothing more than a grainy scanned image. Suzanne Altamare a friend of Joe had gotten the copy from another friend of Joe’s, Charlie Beaulieu. Suzanne had been attempting to clean up this fuzzy image in her spare time. The image below is what I first saw. I imagine it was in much worse shape before Suzanne spent many hours  cleaning it up.

Joe Maize

The first part of the process was to create a black and white line drawing in illustrator followed by a careful color selection process. For the logos that were to be used in digital print and  the website, I added some shadow and lighting effects. The total process took several days of testing and tweaking. In the end it was worth all the hard work. There are several variations that reflect the specific area that the contest (s) will take place in as well as an official qualifier logo. They are all derivatives of this primary design. (other logo variations not shown here) The results are seen below.

Worlds Logos

This year the 2011 World Championship of Sand Sculpting will  be celebrating  25 years. To commemorate this milestone I’ve added a few  new features to the logo that reflect the silver anniversary of this amazing event. I consider it a great honor to have been trusted with the task of restoring this iconic symbol. Special thanks to Charlie, Suz, Doc, the countless others who have given their time and of course, Joe Maize for creating the original design. May your sand stand…. One Grain at a Time! 

 25-years World Championships

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So you want to be a professional sand sculptor

So you want to be a professional sand sculptor

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, ” So what’s your real job?”  I can tell you that it is very rewarding to be able look them in the eye with a completely straight face and say, ” You’re looking at it!”  Becoming  a professional sand sculptor was something that actually found me, rather than something I was searching for. Back in 1991 when I stumbled upon my passion for sculpting, I had no idea there was such thing as a professional sand sculptor. Lucky for me it wouldn’t be long before I would discover the truth thanks in part to the invention of the world wide web. One of the very first sand sculpting websites I came across was put together by a former school teacher from Michigan who was now living in Texas  by the name of Lucinda Weirenga. Her website sandcastle central opened up my eyes to a whole world of professional sand sculptors, events, tips of the trade and more! I sent Lucinda, or as she is known in the sand sculpting community, Sandy Feet, an email introducing myself along with a few photos of my sculptures. To my surprise she responded with words of encouragement almost immediately. For this reason alone, the number one tip I can offer to  any aspiring sand sculptor, is to reach out to other sand sculptors for advice. You will find that most sand sculptors are willing to offer words of encouragement. Others may even offer up the opportunity to work along side them, should your work prove to be promising.

Part Time vs. Full Time
In the world of professional sand sculpting you will come to realise that there are two distinct groups of sculptors. There are those who, while extremely talented, choose to hold down full time positions in other areas of expertise while they pursue sand sculpture on a part time basis. This group is actually split up into two smaller subgroups. There are those that just love to carve and do not want to concern themselves with the business side of sand sculpture and those that are attempting to transition to full time. The second, much smaller group, is made up of a fortunate few who have been able to find the balance of being creative and running a successful business. To figure which group you will fall into is not as simple as it may seem. First you will need to determine your level of passion for the art. Afterall if you plan on making a living at this you better be prepared to eat, sleep and….well you get the point. Next, you will need a solid business and marketing background. Just like any business it takes more than just the desire to succeed to have a successful business. There are necessary skills you will need to hone if you plan on making it through the first three year on your own. If the business side just doesn’t thrill you, consider bringing in a partner or even hiring temporary help to run the business side of things.

It’s a Growing Industry

The good news is that currently sand sculpting is expanding in the United States. Each year there are more and more events, competitions and exhibitions being created with the backing of professional sand sculptors. Existing events are also feeling the pressure to finally recognise the artists that have for years directly contributed to these events successes. There is also a core group of sculptors that has made it their focus to expand opportunities for other sculptors and ensure that these artists are properly compensated and appreciated for what they contribute to the art community as a whole.

So the next time you are at the beach just playing in the sand, remember to document your work. Send out those photos and never stop trying to improve your skills. With enough dedication, planning and raw talent, anything is possible.

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Sand Sculptors Take Notice; Your heart is a muscle too!

Sand Sculptors Take Notice; Your heart is a muscle too!

I’ve always considered myself to be relatively fit. After all, prior to my life as a professional sand sculptor, which is quite physically demanding in itself, I spent 22 years as an auto mechanic. My measure of personal fitness in those days was how large of an engine block I could lift. I never really considered any type of endurance exercise or cardio training. I thought that being on my feet all day and working the physically demanding job of an auto mechanic was enough to keep me fit.

This same philosophy followed me in to my second career as a professional sand sculptor.  I was under the assumption that  because the art of sand sculpture requires the artist to move tremendous amounts of sand by hand that I would be getting plenty of exercise while working on my many projects. It wasn’t until one summer back in 2006, while working on a project that I realised that I could not have been more wrong.

It was early morning and the sand had been delivered to the work site the day before. Without my knowledge the client had doubled the sand order. Because it was still very early none of the equipment operators were on site yet. I decided that I would just move the sand, all 40 tons of it, by hand. After all I was perfectly fit, right? WRONG!  Sure the first few minutes were fine but then my heart rate sky rocketed. My whole body was on fire and I felt like I was ready to pass out.  Fortunately for me the rest of the crew showed up and were able to move the sand in time for the project.

That project was a huge wake up call for me. Since then, I have incorporated a fitness routine into my daily schedule. I realised that If I wanted to continue pursuing my passion in this physically demanding art form that I need to train my body to be able to take the occasional abuse I was exposing it to.

Cardio Fitness

 The most effective way to moniter your cardio fitness is to purchase a heart rate monitor. Almost all models consist of a chest strap and sensor and a display unit, typically in a wrist watch unit.  Once you enter some basic information into the monitor, it will do the rest. Most models store the information and allow you to track your progress  over a span of time. You can use it to monitor your pulse, how many calories you are burning or my particular favorite, heart rate zones. Heart rate zones are the levels at which your heart is working. Zone one is light to moderate exertion. It builds basic endurance and helps in recovery. Zone one includes your warm up and cool down time during a typical workout. In Zone one your heart rate is at 60 –  70% of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is basically determined by the number 220 minus your age. Other factors are considered such as your weight , height and gender. Zone two is 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate and works to improve aerobic fitness. Zone two is recommended for training sessions of moderate length. Finally, zone three, which is 80 – 90% of your maximum heart rate, works to increase your maximum performance capacity. This zone is only recommended for fit users for short training durations. It is not recommended to exceed 90% of your  heart rate for any great length of time.

By focusing on cardio fitness and monitoring my heart rate closely, I have been able to develop a fitness routine that has allowed to achieve my fitness goals while increasing my cardio endurance. This has been a huge benefit for me on all of my projects allowing me to be more productive and  confident in getting the projects done on time without  the threat of injury. Many times when  we think of someone that is physically fit we think of exterior muscle tone and definition. Let’s just not forget that the heart is also a muscle, perhaps the most important muscle we have.

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