Jenny Rossen's Office Is the Beach—Check Out Why
A professional sand sculptor describes her granular gigs.
Skyscraper on the Beach for Merras Holdings, Dubai, 2014.
On Creating Her Dream Job
"I've loved sand castles since I was a kid, so even as a grown-up I'd build them on my hometown beach in Australia. At some point people started tossing money on my towel, which I found offensive. I wasn't begging! But local malls and then car shows and festivals in other countries started commissioning me. Twenty-seven years later, it's my main gig."
On Laying the Floor Plan
"I draw a rough sketch of my idea on paper. Once I'm on the sand, I dive in. I start with a foundation and build up using bottomless wooden boxes and plastic buckets. When crowds gather, they want to see what clandestine chemical or spray I use. I'll tell you: water!"
On Her Tool Kit
"After winning my first competition, I bought a Louis Vuitton handbag. I now carry my tools—makeup brush, ice cream scoop, and cake-decorating knives, which are great for slicing wet sand—in that 15-year-old, beat-up bag."
On Playing with Sand
"It's a fickle medium. I'll carve an exquisite dragon's head, only to watch it crumble and fall off. The gamble is part of the fun—and why you have to be an absolute nut to call this a profession. Your job is spent creating something that's always at risk of collapsing!"
On Her Kookier Creations
"I've done furniture, cartoon characters, and a Christmas castle guarded by elves. I recently constructed camels for Dubai's races. We were stumped on what to put on the back side of the sculpture, until I drove past the city's skyline and thought, Aha!"
On the Joy of a Sand Castle
"One of my friends likes to tease me: 'There goes Jenny, changing the world one sand castle at a time!' To me, though, building one is like giving someone a rose. True, it's not curing cancer, but it's a quick, beautiful moment to savor. Even visitors who hate the beach get a kick out of watching a sand castle come to life."