The Art of Sand Castles

They call themselves sand sculptors—artists who build massive structures on the beach for fun and profit, only to watch their work disappear overnight.

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Sandcastle Competitions
Photographer: Michael Hanson

A New Life

Kirk, now 60, lives in Santa Cruz, and gets hired by Bay Area companies like Facebook and George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic to build sculptures for corporate theme parties. He carves at trade shows and private gatherings, including a birthday party for Dustin Hoffman's wife. And last year he was tapped to co-host Sand Masters, a Travel Channel reality series that features a team of sculptors creating masterpieces in exotic locations.

Sometimes he even gets paid to compete in competitions. But he doesn't consider that a major part of his income. "I come here to have fun and see my friends," he says.

Left: Kirk and his sculpting partner Helena Bangert at Siesta Key

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