York Sculpture Trail Character Commission

Make It York is looking for visual artists, designers and illustrators to create a unique character or creature, bespoke to the city, that will be transformed into 3D, larger than life sculpture models as part of a family-friendly city-wide trail in 2023.

Submit your design using this form on the Make It York website by 12 noon on 14 October 2022.

Sculpture Trail Background

The 2023 sculpture trail will see 25/30 large scale sculptures strategically placed around the city to form a vibrant and bold family friendly trail of characters or creatures. Each sculpture model will be customised by being decorated with unique designs (through painting, applique, etc.) from Yorkshire-based artists, in response to a set overarching theme.

It is expected the sculptures will remain in situ for a period of four months and will be complimented with a programme of workshops, talks and demonstrations from our commissioned artists.

While this trail model has been seen widely across the country, taking the form of animals and other shapes in a multitude of formats, we’re looking to create something bespoke for the city – creating our own story and narrative for residents and visitors of York to explore.

About the Character Commission

We’re looking to commission an artist to design a character or creature that represents the city, something new and something different, that we will then turn into the sculpture model for the trail. Not only that, we’re interested in the narrative and why artists have chosen to create this particular design.

Perhaps the character plays on the heritage of York, a concept that is unearthed or has been missed from the city achieves, even a myth brought to life. Maybe this character or creature has found itself misplaced in the city, maybe it’s a fantastical never-seen-before animal, or perhaps it’s another construct entirely.

We are keeping the commission as open as possible to allow artists freedom of interpretation to create this character however, the trail will be family friendly and submitted designs must take that into consideration.

Practically, the selected design will be cast and transformed into a 5/6ft tall sculpture and therefore cannot be overly complex and highly detailed. Once produced the blank sculptures will be brought to life with different artist designs, meaning the shape of the character is key as this will be the defining element across the trail.

Another consideration is to keep designs as contained as possible, loose aspects to the character increase the likelihood of damage to the sculptures once they are in situ. Keeping the sculpture as solid and contained as possible reduces the risk of damage. For example, a long upward tail of a cat would be more prone to damage that one wrapped around the cat.

The selected artist will be decided by Make It York. The commissioned artist will be awarded a £1000 commission fee for the design and narrative of the character alongside an additional artistic fee of £1000 to create one of the artistic designs and bring a sculpture to life as part of the trail itself.

Upon commissioning Make It York will work with the artist and the manufacturing company to tweak designs where appropriate for the most suitable replication in a physical format.

Submit your design using this form on the Make It York website by 12 noon on 14 October 2022.

Commission Criteria

  • Artists may submit a maximum of two entries.
  • Anyone over the age of sixteen is eligible to submit a design.
  • Artists should reside in Yorkshire (including all of North, East, South and West)
  • Designs that do not fit the commission criteria will not be accepted.
  • Only new designs will be permitted – designs which already exist and have been used in other contexts will not be accepted.
  • The artist should submit a visual drawn/designed representation of their concept. This should be in PDF or image format.
  • Artists should also complete the expression of interest form and include details of the character narrative.
  • Designs should be considered practically based on the shape and elements for large scale reproducing.
  • The commissioned artist will be required to make tweaks to the design if needed following selection and consultation with the production company.
  • Entries remain the intellectual property of the artist and will be kept on record for informational purposes only by Make It York. Artists may contact the company to request their design be removed from records.
  • The selected artists commission fee includes a buyout fee of £1000 of the intellectual property of the design, which will become the property of Make It York, who will have sole right to replicate the design for the production of the trail and potential commercial opportunities to run alongside. The artist will not receive a share of sales.
  • An additional £1000 artistic fee will be awarded to the selected artist to create a design on one of the sculptures as part of the trail.
  • Decisions will be made in October 2022, with the winner being notified on or before 4th November 2022.
  • The decision of Make It York on the outcome of the commission is final, although we are happy to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

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