I am often contacted by clients interested in commissioning a sculpture of their dog. Sometimes prospective clients visit my studio in Devon. This gives them an opportunity to see a selection of my work and discuss their requirements. But it also gives me the opportunity for an animal sculpture photoshoot.
As a sculptor, I am probably biased. But I often feel that sculpture, because of its physical presence in the room, is the perfect medium to capture a much loved pet. There is an immediacy to sculpture, and a tactile quality, that I find very compelling.
However, whereas a drawing or painting need only capture a single view of the animal, a sculpture must capture the animal in all three dimensions and must be able to engage the viewer’s interest from various angles. This is always challenging, as I usually don’t get to meet the dog in person, but have to work from photographs.
To help me with this, I provide my clients with detailed instructions, setting out the specific photographs I will need to build up a complete picture of the dog from all angles and in the correct pose. I may also ask clients to take specific measurements, such as the dog’s height and length, to confirm the individual proportions of the dog I am modelling.
However, wherever possible, I always take the opportunity to meet the dog in person. This not only allows me to take all the photographs I need, but also gives me an invaluable insight in the dog’s personality and behaviour. Last week I met Thistle, a beautiful Gordon setter, and his devoted owners.
Meeting Thistle in person was very revealing. I was immediately struck by her beautiful coat, amber eyes and calm, gentle disposition. It quickly became apparent that Thistle likes to sit in a particular position, and we agreed this would be the perfect pose for her sculpture. I then set to work photographing her from all angles to build up a picture. I also took numerous close-up shots of important details, such as her face and paws.
It also gave me time to talk to her owners and explain how the process works. Having agreed the pose and fixed a price, I send my clients photo updates by email at every stage of the process. This gives them a unique input into the creative process, as I can respond to any feedback and adapt Thistle’s pose and demeanour accordingly.
But an animal sculpture photoshoot isn’t essential. I have successfully completed many pet commissions working remotely from photographs provided by clients. Please contact me for further details if you’re interested in commissioning a pet sculpture of your own. I’ll answer any questions you may have and provide you with full details and a quotation. Just be prepared to take plenty of photographs!