The Sculptors Forum


A series of talks related to an exhibit of scale models for sculpture projects.


How to work with fabricators, technical assistants and other consultants.

  1. What can a consultant, fabricator, or technical assistant do for you?
    1. Consultant: Ideas, technical and production oriented.
      1. Interface at conception, stages of project, or at any point where outside expertise and information is needed.
        1. Examples:
          1. Fountain: Hydraulic Engineer.
          2. Outdoor Environment: Landscape Architect.
          3. "Bridge' -Structures: Structural Engineer.
      2. Least tangible of services:
        1. Can serve as fail safe to be sure ideas are realizable
        2. Be sure to choose specialists who are "can do" kind of people
      3. Many fabricators can function as consultants in their area of expertise.
        1. Where this is possible, it will be more economical.
    2. Fabricator: Realization of your concept/design in tangible final form.
      1. Bring fabricator on board early in project so technical is interfacing with conceptual.
    3. Technical Assistant.
      1. Two types.
        1. Concept/verbal - like a consultant.
        2. Functional, hands on process expert
          1. Knowing how to do something can save countless hours
  2. Proceeding:
    1. Work with consultants and technical people to define and design commission concept
      1. Fabricator (if known) can be brought in here as practicality/cost guide.
      2. Your ideas must be defined before costs can be developed.
    2. Before selecting a fabricator.
      1. Realize each fabricator/contractor normally has a fairly narrow area of focus.
      2. Define the various materials and their focus (i.e. cast welded, etc.) so you will be able to determine what type of fabricator you require.
      3. You may wish to combine several processes - but must determine where these processes interface and who is responsible for end product.
      4. Determine where you wish to assume responsibility for any given process.
        1. Most fabricators are willing to perform basic aspects of a process up to complete execution
      5. Recognize the fabricator is a business and that you cannot expect them to go beyond the quotation process without some remuneration.
    3. What to look for in a fabricator.
      1. Expertise in the process being considered.
        1. Reputation.
        2. Portfolio.
      2. Can you work with them.
        1. Flexibility.
        2. Personality.
      3. Can they meet your time constraints?
        1. If they are the best in their field but are backed up for six (6) months and you need a three (3) month response. Look elsewhere or adjust your schedule.
        2. What is their reputation on meeting deadlines?
      4. Define aspects of your project they can assume.
        1. Can they do multiple phases.
        2. Can they be responsible for installing.
    4. Working with a fabricator.
      1. Firm definition of what you expect, what they expect from you and what costs are involved.
      2. Be willing to accept process constraints and yet seek creative solutions.
      3. Keep in touch with the process as necessary.
        1. If variables, check in at strategic points.
        2. Establish points where your input is critical to the realization of the end product.
        3. Don't be a pest, but don't disappear!
      4. Realize any changes during realization of the commission affect cost - sometimes up - sometimes down.
  3. Technical Assistants (Type B. hands on).
    1. Where you desire to execute a commission yourself - or portions of a commission and need help.
      1. Check out credentials and references - talk is cheap!
      2. Be sure to establish controls - and understandings - especially when working with another artist.
        1. Keep it your commission.
        2. Yet be open to looking at suggestions.
      3. Potentials of working with a craftsman.
        1. Keep some of your time open for more creative or business aspects of process.
        2. Can raise quality levels of project where your technical expertise is limited.
        3. More control than working with outside fabricator (this does not necessarily make it better).
        4. Greater flexibility.