2022 Sand Sculptors

Meet the Artists

With a world-class venue, 26 of the world’s most talented sculptors, and an exciting prize purse, Neptune’s International Sandsculpting Championship has distinguished itself as a premier event unlike any other. Meet the sculptors that will be joining us for the 2022 Championship below!

Blue Double Wave (Short)

Solo Artists

Blue Double Wave (Short)
Sculptor Headshot John Gowdy

John Gowdy


John is a professional sculptor and performance painter. He is an American who has relocated to Castelfranco, Italy near Venice to pursue his interest in art. He sculpts sand, marble, and paints for audiences around the world. Born in Atlantic City, NJ he served 27 years as a firefighter earning the rank of captain before retiring in 2006. In his younger years he was a beach lifeguard for 7 years in Atlantic City. John majored in both Fine Art and Physics at Stockton State College (now Stockton University) and has been sculpting sand professionally for over 25 years. He has a sand sculpture company “Sand Sculptures by John Gowdy & Company LLC” that manages amateur and professional sand events around the world. John has earned many international sand sculpting titles. Too many to mention here. He considers Virginia Beach to be a second home having been a competitor here at The Neptune Festival for 25 years or more. “The Neptune Festival, in my opinion, is the crown jewel of sand sculpting competitions around the world. The friendly management here seeks out and finds the most talented sand sculptors on the planet for your viewing pleasure. It is an honor to be among them. Enjoy the show!”

Sculptor Headshot Peter Vogelaar

Peter Vogelaar


Peter is a very versatile artist, working in many media from snow and sand to steel and bronze.  He particularly loves sand for the spontaneity of the creative process.The outcome is never certain, and like life, it’s an ongoing learning experience.  He appreciates the opportunity to share his work with the appreciative audience in Virginia Beach.

Sculptor Headshot Karlis Ile

Karlis Ile


Karlis, a professional sculptor since 1999, creates sculptures from various materials – bronze, stainless steel, granite, wood and other. In recent years he has worked mostly with ice, snow, fire and sand, because he likes how the primeval force of these natural materials, along with the magic of the moment, is like live music that makes energy to vibrate. A graduate of the Art Academy of Latvia he holds a master’s degree in art and humanities and has improved his knowledge at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece). Karlis completed a figural sculpture Master workshop and continues to operate successfully in the field of figurative sculpture. A sculptor believes that the human figure never loses its relevance in art because it is like a mirror of the human soul and can always be created following the spirit of the age. Proof is in the numerous awards from international festivals in many European countries, Canada and the USA.

Sculptor Headshot Bruce Phillips

Bruce Phillips


Bruce has been involved in the art of sand sculpting for over 30 years. He has created sand sculptures in events and competitions from Japan to the Netherlands and Canada to Columbia. His sculpting style leans towards the abstract side but he enjoys all facets of sculpting in sand. In addition to sand Bruce is a fabricator for other artists. He brings their concepts to life from small to very large in a wide variety of materials. Some of these creations  even seem to fly like the sculpture the “angel” that is hanging 20’ up in the air inside the main train station in Zurich, Switzerland. Bruce says over the years he has enjoyed watching sand sculpting evolve in to a major performing arts attraction. And performance is what he’s all about. Because some of the other media that he’s involved in are steel, iron, aluminum, fiberglass, glass, rubber, gasoline and oil…..have you guessed it…..rolling works of art most people call hot rods and custom cars and trucks!

Sculptor Headshot Karen Fralich

Karen Fralich


Fralich has been creating sand sculptures since 1994. She began her sculpting career at age 14 in a pottery studio in Guelph, Ontario.  In 1994, a professional sand sculptor invited her to help him on a small sand sculpture in a local mall. Fralich was immediately addicted and spent the next 4 years learning the rudiments of sand sculpture while still working full time in restaurants, clothing sales and mascot costume construction. In 1998 she entered her first international contest and by 2001 she was working full time as a free-lance sculptor. Her work takes her around the world. Fralich is a 4 time World Champion and 4 time North American Champion and is the only woman to win the Canadian World Championship.

Sculptor Headshot Matt Deibert

Matt Deibert


Born and raised in Atlantic City and living close to the beaches, Deibert spent many days playing in the sand, a medium readily available and affordable, building sandcastles, walls, tunnels and motes. A firefighter since 1992 he was promoted to Captain in 2004. He is married and has 6 children. After the birth of his first son trips to the beach renewed his interest in sand. Enjoyment transformed into passion after studying the art and discovering Atlantic City’s history of sand sculpture. Competing since 1999, Deibert and his son captured 1st place on the 2011 Travel Channel’s “Sand Wars“. Free time is usually spent with family and friends on the New Jersey shore. He also enjoys playing golf…one place he tries to stay out of the sand.

Sculptor Headshot Helena Bangert

Helena Bangert

The Netherlands

Prior to becoming involved in the world of sand sculpting, Helena Bangert studied at the Rietveld Art Academy in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) graduating in 1998 with a major in sculpting/installation art. Over time, sand sculpting has become one of her major activities. Helena designs and carves sand sculptures both commercially and competitively.  She has won awards in many competitions including the Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach. Since 2004, ice sculpting has been added to her activities and achievements, winning awards in Italy’s International Snow Sculpting Competition.

Sand Sculptor Headshot Fergus Mulvany

Fergus Mulvany


I started sand sculpting by chance in 1993 while studying sculpture in Dublin. Since then the medium and culture of sand has exploded into a worldwide phenomenon and has carried me on it’s ever-widening path from Europe to Australia and Asia to North America. Along the way I have picked up awards such as 1st , 2nd and four times Sculptors’ Choice in the Moscow International Sand Championships. 1st in the 2012 Toronto CNE International Sand Masters. In the San Diego US Sand Sculpting Challenge, I received 2nd and Sculptors’ Choice in 2012 and 2nd again in 2016. I also placed 1st in the 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019 European Championships in Zandvoort, Holland.

Sculptor Headshot Jihoon Choi

Jihoon Choi

South Korea

As the main curator of the Haeundae Sand Festival in Busan, Korea, he has been striving for the best sand festival for 15 years, and strives to maintain and contribute to the life of Korean sand sculptures through the selection of the best themes, writers, and production of the best works every year. In addition, it is striving to popularize sand sculptures by opening a Korean-style sand museum and holding an exhibition of sand sculptures indoors.As a sand sculptor, he is an effort-type sculptor who has a positive mind and an idealistic mind, and who always tries to develop himself by participating in overseas competitions to observe and study many sand works.

Sculptor Headshot Maxim Gazendam

Maxim Gazendam

The Netherlands

Maxim started sandsculpting in 1998 by coincidence taking part in a workshop. A few months later he participated in the International Sandsculpting Competition in Scheveningen and by the years the love for sand became bigger and bigger. After graduating at the Technical University of Delft in The Netherlands in 2005 (Master of Science of Architecture) he works full time with sand, snow and ice. He started his own one-man-business under the name puremaxim.com During the years after he was (and still is!) participating in various inter national competitions and festivals. You can follow him by Facebook and Instagram under the name purmaxim.

Sculptor Headshot Carl Jara

Carl Jara


“What can I say about sand sculpture, it is real. It is an impossible feat, often under impossible conditions, by people with impossible talent. Made for you, right before your eyes. It’s not a magic trick, or a special effect, or 3-d computer graphics, there’s no internal lattice, or special additives, or mirrors. It’s just sand and water, and we’re just doing what we do, what we love to do. We do it for you, so you can experience it with us, not us locked away in an ivory tower of unimaginable euphoria with majestic melodies in the background, well, ok, maybe we are, but you’re here, with us, sharing our passion, our gift, our drive. Like music, or dance, or theater, or dinner, you are here, now, with us, and we are giving you something you cannot imagine, that we can’t explain, and that you will never forget. By the way….Hi…I’m Carl…and I make stuff.”

Sculptor Headshot Morgan Rudluff

Morgan Rudluff


Morgan is a beach-loving born an’ raised California girl who serendipitously stumbled into sand sculpting in 2007. By 2011, she was traveling full time, appearing on TV shows, giving media interviews, professionally competing, and spreading joy to people far and wide. Rudluff considers herself to be quite privileged and very lucky to have been able to make a living doing fun unique work, and still to this day, is grateful for the opportunity to travel and be creative. In 2018 Rudluff made the complicated choice to put sand sculpting on the back-burner and focus on a new career in the healing arts. She currently works full-time as a massage therapist splitting her time between a private practice in Oakland, CA and as a massage therapy instructor at the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork. Rudluff considers her years as a sand sculptor instrumental in how she approaches bodywork: “Both of my careers have been equal parts art, design, science, composition, education, adaptability, attention to detail, creativity, intuition, and absolute love for what I am doing. Plus, I usually get to work barefoot doing both!”

Blue Double Wave (Short)


Blue Double Wave (Short)
Sculptor Headshot Brian Wigglesworth
Sculptor Headshot Andy Daily

Brian Wigglesworth & Andy Daily


Brian Wigglesworth, USA
A multi-media artist from Sarasota, Florida, whose home beach, Siesta Key, was just named #1 Beach in the United States for the second time.  Siesta Key is a crystal white sand beach where Brian operates a Professional Sand sculpting company called Sandventure, and has created and oversees a master sand sculpting competition, appropriately named, The Siesta Key Crystal Classic, held the second week in November. After art school, Brian worked in many different art mediums but never got too involved with sand until about ten years ago, but it quickly became his favorite form for expressing his talents. He quickly moved up in the competition world until he was competing against incredibly gifted sculptors from around the world, though competing may be a generous description. He found himself trying to learn as much style and technique as he could from these artists that might better be described as his mentors. Brian was a commercial designer, illustrator and muralist for many years in Minneapolis, MN before retiring to Florida to spend time in the surf and sand. In competitions, he tends to take a graphic approach, attempting to create sculptures that please the crowds rather than express inner soulful, artistic imagery. “I love competing at the Neptune Festival, the largest sand sculpting competition in the country and my personal favorite.” He says it’s due to the great people who put it on, the community who gets involved and the company of quality, creative sculptors who enjoy coming together to create and have a great time. Brian was proud to take third place in 2016 with his tribute to Prince, artist from his childhood home of Minneapolis.

Andy Daily, USA
“I fell in love with this medium after being introduced to it by a fellow Artist (now my Wife) on a date. Having a background in drawing and painting helped to improve my skills and I started entering and winning amateur competition. After placing 2nd at my 1st Pro-Am competition (Ft. Myers) and 1st in my second one(Texas Sandfest), I won 1st place here at Virginia Beach in 2021. In 2015 I decided to make a living working full time in sand sculpture. Wether creating corporate sculpture, proposals or hosting lessons on how to build a perfect sandcastle I usually find myself on a sunny beach living the dream that is my life.”

Sculptor Headshot Wilfred Stijer
Sculptor Headshot Edith Van De Wetering

Wilfred Stijer & Edith van de Wetering

The Netherlands

Wilfred Stijer, The Netherlands
“I started sculpting sand on the beach of Katwijk, where I was born after reading a book by Pieter Wiersma. His work impressed me a lot. After receiving many good reactions from the people passing by I joined the sandsculpture festival in Scheveningen. Here I met Gerry Kirk, sculptor, and he invited me to work with him. Through his network I was invited to festivals and competitions. Now I travel around the world to give people beautiful sculptures in sand, snow and ice. One day I hope to organize my own festival.”

Edith van de Wetering, The Netherlands
“When I was young I hated sand between my toes, but now I could not live without it. I started sculpting sand through my architecture education at the Technical University. Participating in the sand sculpture festival in Scheveningen started as a hobby, but got out of control very fast. I have been traveling around the world to build sand, snow and ice sculptures for over 20 years.”

Sculptor Headshot Dan Doubleday
Sculptor Headshot Meredith Doubleday

Dan & Meredith Doubleday


Dan Doubleday
To me, life is an adventure. In my younger years I followed my wanderlust. I made a living in many occupations over the years. A welder, well driller, computer operator, seafood cannery plant manager, commercial fisherman, lumber mill worker, general contractor and woodworker. I started sculpting sand on the

beaches of Santa Cruz, CA in 1995 and stuck with that.  I met Meredith at a competition in 1996.  We have been traveling the world creating sculptures ever since.

Meredith Doubleday
Meredith has been sculpting sand for 32 years.  In 1985 she volunteered to help on a Guinness record breaking sand sculpture and got hooked. “I have no formal art training but I have always worked with my hands. Sand was a natural fit for me”.  “How lucky am I, that I found a way to make my passion, my profession?  I have fun at work every day and you are standing in my office.”

Sculptor Headshot Thomas Koet
Sculptor Headshot Martijn Rijerse

Thomas Koet & Martijn Rijerse

USA & The Netherlands

Thomas Koet, USA
Thomas Koet is the 2010 World Champion of Sand Sculpting and has been sculpting for 22 years. His World Champion win was a shining moment in his career, competing against 27 artists from 17 countries. In 2019 Thomas won the “Best Sand Sculptor of the Netherlands” for a national T.V. show. Large events give Thomas the opportunity to make his art on an impressive scale.  Originally from the Netherlands, Thomas has a Master’s degree in Industrial Design Engineering and has been a designer and sculptor for some of Europe’s and North America’s largest sand sculpting events. Thomas’ artistic goal is to make extraordinary sculptures with the highest quality possible. His ability and talent has taken him all over Europe and the U.S. as well as China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia the Middle East and Canada

Martijn Rijerse, The Netherlands
In another century he was studying hard to become an architect when some friends came up with the idea to form a team at a sand sculpture competition. At that time, making something other than dykes out of sand was a completely alien concept to him, but once he carved his first block of compacted sand he was hooked! Not every sculpture he made back then remained standing, but through trial and collapse he learned what is and is not possible in all those different types of sand around the world.When working in sand he loves to combine figurative and abstract sculpture to make pieces that do more than just replicate the world around us. He is always looking for some kind of concept, or feeling behind the sculpture. This is the way he hopes to engage the audience, and also (not unimportant), challenge and motivate himself to create sand sculptures again, and again… and again (they tend to disappear 😉 Over the years he has been lucky enough to be able to work in quite a number of countries, the list ranges from (A) Australia to (Z) Zeeland.

Sculptor Headshot Sue McGrew
Sculptor Headshot Benoit Dutherage

Sue McGrew & Benoit Dutherage

USA & France

Sue McGrew, USA
Exploding onto the professional sand sculpting scene in early 2008, Sue McGrew has enjoyed a meteoric rise to international prominence. More than a decade later, she’s traveled the world to over 60 competitions and dozens of festivals in over 30 countries. Her flowing organic style and expressive figures have won numerous awards in sand, snow and ice. Sue competed in CBC’s reality TV competition “Race Against the Tide” and co-starred on Travel Channel’s TV show “Sand Masters”, a program about the worldwide adventures of a group of American sand sculptors. She also worked with “Sand Guys International” to break the 2014 Guinness World Record for Tallest Sand Castle in Rio de Janeiro. Sue hails from the Tacoma, Washington USA. An artist since birth, her childhood was spent doodling in sketch books, folding origami and twisting wire to create paper mache figurines. Sue’s first taste of sand sculpting (besides her back yard sand box) was a huge international sand sculpting festival in Zeebrugge Belgium in 2004. She found herself enamored by the romantically impermanent medium and spent her summer holiday searching out competitions and festivals. Although receiving a BFA in Theatrical Stage Management from the University of Southern California, after graduation Sue chose to follow her love of sand, sun, and travel as a professional sand sculptor. Today, Sue continues to share the magic of sand sculpting with the world while growing as an artist of many mediums, but until she tires of living out of a gritty suitcase, she devotes herself to the gypsy lifestyle in sand, ice, and snow.

Benoit Dutherage, France
Before stepping into the sand sculpting world, he worked as a chef in the field of great gastronomy in France and throughout the world. When, by surprise, he discovered sandsculpting, starting as a helper with Karen Fralich in France. From there, things quickened…20 years later, he has participated in many sand, snow, ice and salt sculpture projects and contests working on amazing sculptures, in amazing places and getting to know amazing sculptors from around the world. He works in sand – ice – snow – salt – sculptures; clay / foam and composite sculptures. In 2014, he began another dream job, Museography, the best Atelier of décor/sculpture for museums in France/abroad creating life size sculptures, taxidermy, faux rocks, plaster casting, composite materials.

Sculptor Headshot Donatus Mockus
Sculptor Headshot Inese Valtere

Donatus Mockus & Inese Valtere


Donatus Mockus, Latvia
Donatus graduated Art Academy of Lithuania, with a master degree in sculpture. Working all his life like a professional artist. He is experienced in all kind of sculpting materials: stone, bronze, wood etc, but with sand carving have already 12 years friendship. Love that its possible in quite short time create ideas in big scales. His creative life with sand started with festivals in Lithuania and Latvia, then Switzerland, Germany. He is now working more like a sand carver in Sand Sculpture exhibitions all over the Europe.

Inese Valtere, Latvia
Inese works in almost all materials, wood, clay modeling …but especially with sand sculpture carving, almost 12 years. She loves that in sand, its possible, in super short time, to create great, big shapes and also lot of detailing using her physical strength, artistic ideas and material properties. One of her most loved sand art sculptures, called “Step”, was created together with her team mate Donatas Mockus in Rorshach, Switzerland, and was nominated best one.

Sculptor Headshot Krists Zarins
Sculptor Headshot Slavian Borecki

Krists Zarins & Slavian Borecki

The Netherlands & Poland

Krists Zarins, The Netherlands
Krists began sculpting in 1994 while studying in Riga Art College, since then he has made hundreds of sculptures in various materials, shapes and sizes. For the past 11 years sand and snow sculpture has been his primary occupation taking  him to events in various countries from his homeland Latvia to the nearby countries of Finland, Russia and Switzerland, and to more distant countries like Canada and Taiwan. Apart from sculpting Krists enjoys good music and travel.

Slavian Borecki, Poland
Slava is a graduate of National Art College in Kharkov (Ukraine) and Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan (Poland). After studies he worked as an Assistant in the Department of Sculpture. Since 1996 Slava has participated in sand and ice festival and competitions all over the world and won many awards?. He also works with polyester, bronze and stone. His works have been shown in individual and collective exhibitions in many European countries

Sculptor Headshot Steve Topazio
Sculptor Headshot Debby Cutulle

Steve Topazio & Deb Barrett-Cutulle


Steve Topazio, USA
As the story goes, way back at the turn of the century, Steve was carving a dragon in the sand with just a clam shell with his family on a beach in Maine. Curious, he knew there had to be a better way to carve a sand sculpture and turned to the internet. There he discovered the world of professional sand sculpting. Already armed with a fine arts degree from University of Rhode Island, he searched out two Master sculptors living in New England and they taught him the techniques he needed to pursue this newfound passion. With a couple of years of practice he was given the opportunity to compete in a Masters Sand Sculpting event and from that point on he never looked back. He has competed and placed in professional sand sculpting contests all along the east coast and beyond. In 2005 Steve started up Sandtasia Sand Sculptors of the Ocean State, a professional sand sculpting company based in R.I.

Deb Barrett-Cutulle, USA
“A graduate of the Art Institute of Boston, I feel blessed to make a living doing what I love!  Being creative is my passion. I am a full time Artist working as an Illustrator/Muralist/Sand Sculptor. I was introduced to the sand on Revere Beach in 2005 and fell in love with it! I started out learning to carve logos then in 2015 I took a leap over the fence to try my hand at Competition. This will only be my 6th year competing. When I’m not creating with my hands, you might catch me D.J.- ing or Hosting a Karaoke show!”

Sculptor Headshot Joris Kivits
Sculptor Headshot Jeroen Advocaat

Joris Kivits & Jeroen Advocaat

The Netherlands

Joris Kivits
Before Joris started carving sand in 2006 he worked as a freelancer in several activities: Graphic design, Art direction (and other positions in an art-department) for movies and television, Photography, making illustrations, wall-paintings and designing and technical supporting of presentations (in Power Point and Keynote) at congresses. Although still working in those other industries, making sand sculptures has become one of his main jobs. In 2006 he participated in his  first sand project in Belgium. The following year He had the chance to do more projects and meet more sand-carvers. Through those artists and exposure he had the opportunity to take part in other competitions/exhibitions and was employed by several sand sculpture companies for commercial sand jobs. He also helped organize a sand competition, “Garderen 2009”, in the Netherlands which gave him great pleasure and hopes to organize more in the future. Still amazed by the relatively small amount of time that is needed to make the sandsculptures and the transience and beauty of the material, Joris says he will continue to create my mind and thoughts in sand. Making sand sculptures for me is like a theatre-act; you can enjoy it until the curtain comes down, or in this case, as long as the sand stands, until what remains, for the viewer and artist, are memories and photographs.

Jereon Advocaat, The Netherlands
“I’m Jeroen Advocaat, born in the Netherlands September 8th 1977. I graduated as (Medical) Illustrator from art academy Minerva in the Netherlands in 1999. In 2002 I founded the company Centipede to make Illustrations and Sculptures. I have created sculptures in many different sizes and materials like ice, concrete, aluminum and bronze. But since 2003 most of my sculptures are made from sand. Almost all sculptures are made in assignment for clients that require a specific design. For example On September 29, 2010 I was the artistic leader for building the tallest sand sculpture that is 22.43 meters at the 12th Gotone China Zhoushan International Sand Sculpture Festival. I have been the artistic leader there for 10 years. But my personal interest while making sculptures is finding a balance between designs by nature and technology and science.”

Sculptor Headshot Rick Mungeam
Sculptor Headshot Craig Mutch

Rick Mungeam & Craig Mutch

USA & Canada

Rick Mungeam, USA
Rick Mungeam began sand sculpting years ago on the beaches of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. As a renowned residential designer, his architectural practice, has taken him on travels around the world designing custom resort homes. These truly custom designs have been showcased in many design and architectural publications over the years. Architecture has allowed Rick to be creative with his passion for design. An extensive sand collection from many distant beaches demonstrates Rick’s love for “The Beach”. On the Emerald Coast Beaches of Florida’s Panhandle is where Rick truly began honing his sand sculpting skills. Rick has been invited to many sand sculpting events; creating many award winning sand sculptures. It became obvious he has an  artistic talent and a gifting for teaching. Together with his wife, Capri, their company, Beach Sand Sculptures LLC has organically grown into the largest sand castle lesson company in the world. They offer both family sand castle lessons and professional sand sculptures. As the face of Beach Sand Sculptures LLC, Rick, teaching sand castle lessons, has been featured on numerous local and national televised programs, features, and publications.

Craig Mutch, Canada
I am an artist who wears many hats, some of which include; sand sculpture, ice, snow and wood carving, painting as well as professional photography for thirty years.Originally an illustrator and graphic designer from the Edmonton Journal in Alberta, I changed my career goals and set out to the West Coast in search of broader horizons. From there I worked in the cruise ship industry for fifteen years as a lab manager/photographer/artist. I now reside in Kitsilano, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Sand is not the only medium I have mastered – snow and ice have been just as rewarding. In 2008, I participated in a three city, six week ice sculpture festival in Europe. In 2010, I had worked within the 2010 Winter Olympiad in Whistler. In 2012, I was the artistic director for the largest ice and snow project in Whistler BC – a private three hour party- taking five weeks to complete.In the past twenty years, I have traveled extensively in Europe, Middle East and the USA, participating in competitions and corporate events. My most recent assignments were in the Middle East and the Mediterranean for sand sculpture, photography and creative design.