Studio Arts

Studio Arts

Interview with Mara Sfara,
Painter, Jeweler, & Contemporary Sculptor

It’s no secret that sculpting is one of the most challenging areas of fine art. It takes incredible skill, attention to detail, and patience to craft an aesthetically pleasing and detailed sculpture from bronze, or wood, or another material. Despite the difficult and arduous process, some folks are still passionate enough to make a career out of it. Mara Sfara is one of those people. A graduate of prestigious art schools, Sfara has been angling towards a career in sculpture for some time and she even calls art “her addiction.”

We jumped at the opportunity to interview this self-professed art addict and to get a glimpse into the life of a professional sculptor, how she markets herself as an artist, and what she wishes she could have done differently as an up-and-coming artist earlier in her career. You don’t want to miss what she has to say. Enjoy!

How did you break into the industry?

I’m not sure you could say I broke into the industry. I went to art school. I attended the University of Pennsylvania and New York University art schools. They offer their students shows.

How important is marketing to your business?

I decided it was important to build a bridge between my audience and my artwork and the best way to do that would be through a marketing campaign. Many artists think that their work is done after they complete their paintings or sculptors. We generally learn the hard way that that’s just step one. I reached out to Anthony Mora Communications, a company that specializes in marketing artists in various fields.

Describe your creative process. How long does it take for a piece to go from idea to final product?

It is a difficult answer. For me, everything depends on my initial concept of a piece. It is also impacted by whatever is going on in my life while I am creating a piece. How challenging the concept of my piece is and how long it takes to master this concept also impacts the work. It can be a consuming process. Occasionally I lose track of time. As to my work, I get an idea, use armature in most cases and then use oil-base non-hardening clay apply it and create the sculpture by modeling. I then take it to the foundry, rework the wax, carve the base bronze, patina and mount and wax the piece.

What factors influence the pricing of your artwork?

The price ranges of sculptures vary. The following are some of the general reasons why they do. The material I use to make them affects how expensive it is to create a piece. If I use a foundry and where the foundry is located also goes into the equation. On the East Coast a foundry can be more expensive than some in the Southwest — partly due to overhead cost. The edition of a piece has a lot to do with the price. Some artists choose to pour their own sculptures or make their sculptures in other countries. It all depends on the choices an artist makes and every one of those decisions affect the price. In some way art is like wearing designer clothing. If people see you wearing a particular “in” item, they want the same thing. Similarly, the name of the artist, the gallery and especially the museums they artist have exhibited in can make a difference.

What is your favorite part about being a sculptor?

I like to create things I think about. I like the “permanence” of a piece in an ever-changing environment. There is something solid and stable about the art work. Some people articulate their ideas through, music, words, movement, etc; I do it through my art. I like colors, rhythm, the movement and the aura. I initially come up with a concept, that’s step one. I can then create it. It helps anchor me. It brings some consistency to my life, the world around me and where I fit into the world. You can say art is my addiction.

I like to create things I think about. I like the “permanence” of a piece in an ever-changing environment. There is something solid and stable about the art work. Some people articulate their ideas through, music, words, movement, etc; I do it through my art.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would ask my self what my motivation is. Why am I doing this? My advice would be to be patient with yourself. Decide why you’re making this decision. Are you doing this because you have it inside of you, or are you doing this to get attention?

I do this because it makes me feel alive. It relaxes my mind, my world. You need to start off by answering the why question. What do you expect to gain by being a sculptor or is it simply part of your existence? It is fine to fail, to throw out a piece that is not working. It is really the experience you have by creating a piece and the knowledge you learn by doing it that counts to me. To me, sculpture is a process of seeing the best way something works; it can be applied to many other aspects of your life.

I do this because it makes me feel alive. It relaxes my mind, my world. You need to start off by answering the why question. What do you expect to gain by being a sculptor or is it simply part of your existence?

What do you intend to focus on in the future?

I will try to make my sculptures in different mediums beside bronze and more public work so everyone can see my works not just the people who own the pieces. I would like my pieces to be in public spaces, to entertain and impact people. I want people to be able to view a piece and understand the feeling it triggers. I want them to relate to it. I can tell a story with my sculpture and you can too. You can tell your story through these sculptures.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

My advice is to do the work. Make it and if you are happy with it enjoy it; if you are not happy with it dump it and start over. It is not about the frustration or that there is only one way to do create a piece. It can be the same story line with many difference versions.

  • Tammi Edwards
    Tammi Edwards

    Author, Journalist & Art Enthusiast | Tammi Edwards is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) where she earned two Bachelor's Degrees, and later a Juris Doctor (JD). Her interest in an artistic career took root while an undergraduate at UCSB when the LaBelle Modeling Agency contracted her as a model & voiceover talent.