City Smart / How to thrive in the urban environment of Southern California : His Artwork Can Be a Real Icebreaker

Mark Daukas

Age: 38

Job: Professional ice sculptor

Locale: Newport Beach


Hours: Full time

Pay: $250,000


What I do: I started ice sculpting 20 years ago. I was working at a hotel and saw a chef do it. I basically taught myself. Ice sculptors would use heavy-duty chisel work. It would cost about $2,000 to invest in a chisel set and I couldn’t afford that. So I went to a hardware store to see what types of power tools I could use.

With power tools you can be a lot more delicate. It’s like going from carving stone with a hammer and chisel to using laser surgery.

Why I do it: Sculpture is something I love to do. It’s a great form of release and expression. It enables me to do something I love passionately. Once you become better at it, it is something you enjoy doing more and more.

The downside is once you become good at it you spend most of your time in the freezer. That’s why my freezer has everything in it. I have a stereo, shock absorber foam floor, automatic door opener and an ice disposal so I don’t spend all of my time shoveling ice and snow.

My sculptures do disappear, but that is part of the allure--it has an ephemeral quality about it. It breaks a lot of people’s hearts to see something that you have worked so hard on melt away. So I started sculpting bronze and acrylic.