Mark Chapman

For More Information:

The Trouble with Dragons
Collaboration with
Suzanne Altamare

Captain Cully, Pirate Dachshund

Angela the Huntress

How DOES a Mechanical Engineer get into Sand Sculpture???

In retrospect, every step looks reasonable...

In 1994 Mark entered the contest at Cannon Beach with little sister Cara and 5 year old nephew Matty. Promises had been made. There was a team. The team had a plan. We are talking experienced sand sculptors here. The reality did NOT measure up. The (shorthanded) team was still debating theme over breakfast the morning of the contest. There were not enough shovels to go around. Onced a pile of sand was created, everyone except Mark and Cara disappeared. There were no carving tools. Cara left to check on Matty. Mark carved the sculpture with his hands and a stick.

Suprisingly, Mark fell for the same line the next year. If anything, the reality fell further short of the promise. It turned into an annual thing, With Cara participating less, promising more and Mark investing more in tools and equipment. Forms were built, buckets collected, plans made, friends asked nicely then begged, wheedled, bullied, cajoled and somehow pursuaded to participate. Once. Results were mixed but mostly unsatisfying.

Sand sculpture is HARD work. Mark routinely plans to move 15,000 to 18,000 lbs of sand and 7000 lbs of water (usually in the first half of the first day) at a 3 day solo contest. After participating in football, wrestling, bicycle racing and a stellar 17 year career in martial arts, Mark confirms that these are GAMES FOR SISSIES compared with solo sand sculpture events (we are getting ahead of ourselves here but please bear with us). Friends and family usually cannot be persuaded to work that hard. People have left the team grumbling about going back to triathalons because they are just easier on the body than an hour of dipping water out of the surf and 2 hours of shovelling.

Then in 1999 Mark connected with a team at work that was entering Sand in the City (TM) in Portland, Oregon. With participation in SitC comes lessons. The lesson is the true start of Mark's career as a Master Sculptor.

Years have been spent refining the techniques that work for Mark. Often he is asked, "Do you make up your sculptures on the spot?" The answer is that sculptures are not so much planned as OBSESSED OVER! Usually dozens of concept sketches are made. Then a minimum of 4 scale drawings are made beforehand and referred to constantly throughout the build. Looking at his work, Mark admits that it is asthetically pleasing but he has yet to make a sculpture that he likes as well as the drawing. This is the main source of his "constructive discontent".

His work is in demand around the USA. Mark stays busy every summer sculpting at Sand in the City events nationwide. He has worked in Mexico and entered the Solo World Championships of Sand in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia. As of Oct 2005 Mark is booked for 2006 events in Texas, Florida and Belgium.

According to Cara, "My big brother stole my hobby! And he's better at it than I am!"

Mark still has hope that he will be really good at sculpting one day. Maybe then he will switch to some other medium that is a little more permanent (not that there is any such thing as a permanent sculpture). Until then, photography (of sand sculpture) is his only "permanent art".

Mark is eager to share his skills. He teaches lessons and coaches established teams. He also can do sculptures for special promotions, parties, weddings and the like. Big jobs are no problem. Mark has also developed a clean and tidy method for doing sculptures indoors with moulding sand (which earned him the coveted Bert Adams Innovation of 2005 Award). Mark can even wear a tuxedo when sculpting moulding sand.

40 Ford Pickup

Collaboration with Dean Murray and Brent Terry

Dogs Playing Poker

Collaboration with Billy Dow

Sit Down Bike


Pacific Northwest Sculptors  4110 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. #302,   Portland, OR 97214