Richard Becker, NSS

Artworks


Commissioning a Sculpture

Considering commissioning a sculpture? It can be a fun and collaborative experience. Here is the commission process demystified, from the first phone call to installation.



1. THE INITIAL CONVERSATION

The process of commissioning a sculpture begins with a conversation between the client and Richard. This discussion establishes the parameters of the commission. Subject, pose, size, accessories, sitter availability, reference materials, location — and most importantly — the client’s goals are discussed. This information is used to determine the scope, materials, schedule and costs. After an estimated price is agreed upon, the client is provided with an agreement that includes preliminary sketches and other details of the project.

2. MEETING, LEARNING AND SKETCHING THE DESIGN

In the case of living sitter portraits, an initial one-hour session is scheduled. Photos, measurements and video may be taken; sketches are drawn as Richard observes and interacts with the sitter, absorbing their personality and mannerisms. For posthumous portraits, this session is spent with the client reviewing reference materials and discussing the life, personality and nuances of the subject.

Next, Richard develops the composition design, through drawings and maquettes. In the case of portraits, this may be quite simple, but still vital to capture the design in 3 dimensions, prior to full scale sculpting. Images and video are shared with the client, gaining feedback and making adjustments.

3. THE SCULPTING BEGINS

Once the design is approved, the full scale sculpting begins. Over a few weeks, Richard develops the sculpture in clay.

Depending on the sitter’s availability, one or two additional hour sittings may be scheduled to finalize the sculpt. Sculpting from life is always preferred, even when depicting a subject's younger self, but most of Richard’s portraits have been created without the benefit of live sittings. As an example, Ron Howard's sculpture portrait was completed with a single, 1-hour meeting at his office.

4. THE LOST WAX FOUNDRY PROCESS

Once the client approves the clay, lost wax foundry processes begin: Molding, wax, ceramic shell, metal casting, breakout, welding, chasing and finishing. Bronze and stainless steel are both beautiful, and the process is similar, but Richard's preferred marine grade stainless steel is more difficult, requiring specialized equipment with melting temps nearly 1000°F higher than bronze.

5. STRUCTURE AND INSTALLATION

For large artworks that require structure or a large pedestal, the engineering and fabrication processes run in parallel. From final clay to delivery, these processes can take from a few weeks to a several months.



REGARDING THE INVESTMENT

Commissioning your unique sculpture is an investment that will live on for generations. Life-size figures begin at $80,000. A life-size bust may be commissioned from $10,000 - $15,000 depending on the size and complexity. Normally one third payment is made in advance, one third on approval of the final clay sculpt and the final third upon completion. As they do not incur sculpture and mold fees, subsequent castings are substantially more affordable.


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“Extraordinary work.”

— Ron Howard

“Mr. Becker’s artistic abilities are exquisite; his professional work ethic, impeccable. This artist does what he promises to do, on time and on budget.”

— Karen Hathaway, CEO LAACO LTD