How to become a sculptor

How to become a sculptor

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Maria Strutz has been willing to change her life and earn peanuts to become a sculptor, but apart from chopping off three fingers with an axe, she’s loved every minute…

Name: Maria Strutz

view Maria Strutz’s work

Career title: Artist in sculpture, print-making, mixed media

Full-time/part time: Part-time

How long have you been doing this?

My dad was an art teacher so I would paint and sculpt and print and etch whenever I was bored and would sit next to him painting and drawing scenarios when on holiday. But only since last year have I actually actively started trying to sell my work in exhibitions. Before that I felt too shy to actually put myself ‘out there’.

Qualifications and/or training duration:

Fine Arts Sculpture and Painting: roughly 4 years
Part-time Foundation Course: 2 Years
Theatre Design BA: 3 years

Work experience:

For being an artist there isn’t really such a thing as work experience apart from just doing it. When studying sculpture I worked in a foundry for 2 weeks, that was bloody amazing! Work experience in several theatres, making props and sewing costumes but in the end I decided it simply was not what I wanted to do.


Self-promotion, finding a ‘market’, liasing with clients and finding out what it is they want or generating ideas to fit what they might want. Apart from that, artistic skills like mould-making, screen-printing, painting/drawing/sculpting with different media and materials.


Peanuts! Per hour would be pretty good if I actually sold everything I created but at the moment I earn about £1200 per year selling my artwork… But I only started doing exhibitions last year so hopefully this will pick up immensely at some point.

If you’ve set up your own business, what’s the damage financially?

You just need your artist materials, possibly fork out rent for a studio but a lot of people do their artwork at home to start with.

Job perks:

Being creative and when I’m ‘in flow’ it’s great and it’s fun and fulfilling. It also keeps me quite fit, lifting boxes to get to all the artwork stored in boxes in the flat, framing artwork, hanging artwork…

What made you want to go into this profession?

I went to the States as an exchange student for a year when I was 16 and took loads of art and design courses in High School. I had a brilliant tutor and got into doing artwork in a major way and had this dream of being a fine artist in New York City. I went back to Germany after graduation and did many other things but this is what I come back to: I want to be an artist!

Long hours?

It depends on how much creativity takes over your life, you let it take over, how much of an obsession it becomes. I find there are phases when it’s very full on and others when ideas are slowly (sometimes frustratingly so) germinating.

A flexible/bunk-off early job?

It is flexible in terms of that it’s not a 9-5 job, and if the weather is fine you might be able to argue that being outside is as good as being inside whilst getting your idea for your next project together. Being an artist is not a job but when the muse kisses you, you had better not turn your back…

Highlight of your career:

Being shown around William Burroughs’ flat and being introduced to his cats when I became fascinated with the textures of his artwork.

Downside of the job:

Lack of stability and money unless you ‘make it big’.

Most hideous career moment to date:

Chopping off 3 of my finger-tips with an axe!

Do you meet interesting people and if so, who was the most interesting?

I meet many interesting people and sometimes great synchronicities happen.

Danger factor:

Power tools, tools in general. It’s good to be aware of what you are working with and not to get side-tracked!

Sexy uniform?

Not particularly unless you’re into splattered camouflage gear.

Opportunities for travel/work abroad with your career?

You can take your work with you wherever you go…

Do you meet fit, clever, solvent blokes in your line of work?

As frequently (or not as the case may be) as I meet them otherwise.

Can you still see yourself doing this in 20 years time?

Oh, yes.

What advice would you give young women who are interested in this career path?

Unless you’re 100% committed have a part-time job that pays the bills. In your free time do as much artwork as you possibly can. Don’t get side-tracked by house-work…