Artist Feature: Barney Joseph – Sculptor

Have you ever felt that life is extremely hard and that there is no hope for you?Barney profile image

Hi, my name is Barney and I am part of a large crowd of misplaced engineers, a growing trend in India. I started sculpting entirely by chance. Way back in 2009, I had been taking treatment for Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) related issues with both of my arms. I was forced to find a new career without computers after a number of failed treatments with no progress! Even physiotherapy hurt my hands!

During a physiotherapy session, a suggestion was offered that I keep squeezing putty as a low impact exercise. The putty always dried up quickly and I began to notice the forms that it could take with details of my fingerprints too. At home we had a childhood practice, "don't buy greeting cards, make them yourself". So when my sister left home after her marriage I thought of doing things differently and make a figurine of some cartoon characters that she liked. I made one of the penguins from the Madagascar cartoons and a minion from Despicable Me. She liked them and so did my friends!

That's when I up took sculpting as a hobby and started experimenting with materials and talked to a lot of sculptors online. I frequented online forums like “Statue Forum” and “The Club House” and learned a lot from the helpful people there. Their feedback greatly shaped up my craft! I also started watching a lot of YouTube videos and asked people a lot of questions.

Some of my first attempts at sculpting.

I tried out different sculpting mediums and different styles. My first human sculpture took me 1 year and 2 months to complete. I kept correcting it with the feedback that I received from different people in an effort to get better at this new craft! I guess this is what perseverance is all about!

My first human sculpture
My first human sculpture. This took me 1 year and 2 months to complete!

At first I was giving my sculpts away for free. I had no idea that I could have a career out of this. I was just waiting to get well so that I could get back to having a career. My friends were my greatest supporters and my initial clients! Unsure of how to go forward I decided to venture out in a different career and started teaching children at different apartments, schools and special needs schools.

Around this time I used to frequently visit Claystation because I didn't know much about earthen clay. Mr. Ganesh and all the staff there were very supportive in teaching me the basics and asking me to experiment more. Later on, Claystation offered me a teaching position to teach the basics of making sculpture at their place itself! Teaching at Claystation exposed me to a variety of opportunities and meeting people from all walks of life bustling with ideas and information. Claystation would also refer clients to me who needed sculptures or needed some research in refining a marketable product. I've worked with customers who just wanted fridge magnets to making a figurine of someone to making some elements of a company's visual merchandising display!

Custom 10 inch figurine

With all of this going on I decided to partner along with Claystation to set up Sculpt Monkey Design Studio to make my own products and offer my sculpting services wherever I can.

I am glad to have found support from family, friends and church to have my own studio enabling me to do what I love. I am grateful to the wonderful team at “Claystation” for believing and supporting me to bring this into reality by helping me find clients and take up challenging projects.

Stoneware Lions close up

Looking back now, I do believe that the hand of God has been leading me to this particular phase in my life; from being “unemployable due to health reasons” to having a studio of my own! I believe that God is the author of life and gives us all our own talents. With my hands struggling it seemed that all hope was lost. Only later did I realize that if I never had struggled like this I would never have known that I could sculpt! The God who gives can take away too, and in my case, has given back in abundance! Though my health still has its issues, I am restored in my soul! This line of work is addictive! I am looking forward to creating a lot of sculptures and challenging my craft.

To those going through challenges in life:

Don't give up! Persevere!