Producing your own statues.

by on Dec 31, 2019 Categories: blog (1076 Views)

Yesterday one of the members of our Facebook discussion group asked a question, which has been asked numerous times before.
"How much does a custom statue cost?"
First and foremost, producer costs are private. It's akin to asking someone what their salary is ... it's just not done, and it's tacky when someone does.
That being said, it's also and over simplified question that can't be answered either, as there's no "rule of thumb" to creating a statue.   There are literally dozens upon dozens of factors that go into the cost of having a statue made.
But for the sake of this discussion, lets cover the basics:
Scale, Character Design/Complexity, Base, Traditional or Digital Sculpting, and last but not least molding and casting.
Scale - 1/35, 1/10, 1/8, 1/6, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, or 1/1. Each scale changes your costs, and effects all your costs down the line, such as molding and the raw materials (resin) used in making the casting. Basically, the bigger the piece the more it will cost you from start to finish.
Character Design/Complexity - next to scale, this is another of the main factors that will effect your costs all the way down the line. Is the character something like Spiderman, who has a skin tight costume, or is it something like Deathstroke who has texture all over his costume, and has umpteen weapons all over the place? Even something as trivial as a cape will effect the cost of your statue. So again, add more it will cost you more.
Base - is it going to have a simple base, something that won't overshadow the character, or do you want a diorama type base that interacts or enhances the character? Often times elaborate bases can cost as much as the character sculpts themselves or more.
Traditional or Digital Sculpt - Each has benefits and pitfalls, but basically a traditional sculpt avoids the cost of having to have the piece digitally printed, but it's a simple matter to resize a digital file into various scales to please more people, so there are more options available to you. Digital files are also easier to reposition and tweak, and the amount of finer details and textures you can get with digital files these days is insane. But digital sculpts also add to your cost, because (as mentioned above) you have the added expense of printing the files and that can easily add thousands to your costs depending on the size of the subject in question.
Another factor to consider in sculpting is WHO is doing it. Are you going to have well known sculptor who has a proven track record of delivering top quality sculpts, or will you take a chance on an unknown who might charge you a lower price, but you don't know what you might end up with?
PLEASE NOTE - that's not a diss on new guys, i've seen some new guys in the hobby doing some CRAZY AMAZING work, I just mention it because your level of comfort will come into play in this situation.
Molding and Casting - even if you have no plans on producing the piece your're having made, if your piece is traditionally sculpted, you're still going to have to go through the expense of molding the piece and casting at least 1 copy in resin, as most of the materials used by traditional sculptors will degrade over time. Yes, some will last longer than others, but they all will eventually degrade. With digital files, you can have the piece printed in resin, and just use that to build on. Now, that being said, the larger and/or more complex the sculpt to be replicated, the more the price of molding and casting goes up. the number of pieces in your sculpture is another factor to take into consideration, the more pieces to be molded and cast, the higher your costs will go.
Also keep in mind that unless you do your own building and painting, there's that added expense.
Having a custom statue made isn't as easy as most might think it is, and it is most certainly not cheap, or for the faint of heart.
Depending on just SOME of the factors mentioned above, most producers can easily be out of pocket 5 to 20 grand before even seeing the first resin copy of their pieces come to light.
Now, if anyone wants to ask questions about the process, no problem, we can open up the floor to discussion, but I'm not going to go into, or allow folks to go into the specific costs involved. If that's what you're looking for, do your own research, pound th pavement and contact sculptors, casters, painters, etc. Discuss what you want to have made, how you want it made, and in what scale with them off board.
If you want advice from a seasoned producer, contact them privately with questions, most will gladly try to help you avoid some pitfalls. BUT word to the wise, be respectful of both their time and graciousness, and if they don't want to extend a helping hand (and rest assured some won't), simply say thank you and let that shit go.
And lastly ... be ready for some sticker shock, when you do all of the above.
OH ... and another factor not discussed above ... LICENSING, COPYRIGHTS, and PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Is the piece going to be licensed? Is it an original concept? Is it "Public Domain"?

95% or possibly more of the GK hobby is unlicensed, we all know that, so there no point in beating a dead horse about it, but it bears some discussion.

Licensing will involve paying the IP holder a fee, and/or sometimes a percentage of the profits. Each IP holder works differently as to both amounts. Some will insist on a duration for the production run, and some will even limited the amount of pieces you can make.

At the end of the day if the IP holders want to make your life difficult, rest assured, they most certainly can.

Most will chose not to, because they know there's no money to be made in GK's. But if they decide to make an example of you, they can (and have) gone for blood. It's my understanding (from my lawyers) that IP's legally have to protected at certain intervals, or it can be argued in court that the IP's have been relinquished into the public domain. How accurate this is, I can't tell you, I'm not an expert by any means, but it would explain why we see a flurry of C&D's go out from time to time.
So keep that in mind when selecting your subject matter.

Also if you're working on original concepts, even though you have what's called an "Intended Copyright", that will only hold for so long, so if you don't want it stolen, or want it protected, don't publish it online, or on any form of social media before speaking to an attorney.

Characters in the PUBLIC DOMAIN include such notables at Dracula, Frankenstein, Nosferatu, Grimm's Fairytales, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc.

Keep in mind though, these DO NOT include the Universal Monsters and Disney versions of these characters. You can by all means come up with your own version, and even call them by their names, but if you replicate the images owned by Disney, Universal or any other studio, you are putting a target on your back.

Also, keep in mind some IP's are owned by the decedents of the authors/actors/celebrities. While most of them are lovely people, there are those few that are self-entitled little f**ks doing everything they can to protect their meal tickets ... so tread carefully.
I know that some producers have made agreements with the likes of Sarah Karloff and Legosi family to produce pieces based the universal monster versions of their parents. To be honest, I don't know how that works, I assuming that the familes must have negotiated some sort of arrangement with the various studios for some limited authorizations, giving them permission to authorize some limited release pieces in various formats.
In any event these are some other things to keep in mind.