Todd Vander Pluym, president of Sand Sculptors International (SSI), is the world's premier sand sculptor. For over 20 years, he and his team of professional and master sculptors have crafted more than 1,600 sculptures around the globe, from a collage of African wildlife in South Africa to a 37-foot-tall "Sleeping Beauty's Castle" on the beach in Kamaishi, Japan. SSI holds nearly 200 sand sculpting titles, including four world championships. Over the years, Todd’s work has been featured in major newspapers and magazines, such as The Los Angeles Times, People and the Smithsonian Magazine, and on many television shows, including The Today Show and Good Morning America.

Todd grew up along the shores of Southern California, where he built his first castle at the age of 4. He was trained as an architect and owned an architectural business, but sand sculpting was his first love and became his choice of professions. In 1980, he started Sand Sculptors International, based in Redondo Beach, Calif., to pursue the art full time.

In the book The Art of Sandcastling, author Ted Siebert writes that Todd is one of the brightest stars in the field: "His sculptures have been admired on every continent except Antarctica. Todd is the winner of hundreds of competitions, organizer of several world-record events, and builder of exhibitions in almost every developed country. Todd is the closest thing to a guru in sandcastling today. Together with his Sand Sculptors International team, Todd has been an ambassador for sandcastling, opening doors for the immense potential of this relatively new form." Indeed, Todd invented many of the techniques and methods (such as the use of wooden forms for pound-up) used today by sand sculptors around the world.

These days, the SSI sculptors travel the world sculpting sand. Despite the image, sand sculpture is by no means confined to the beach. SSI creates dazzling sculptures in the middle of shopping malls, where business sometimes quadruples during and after his projects. Without fail, SSI’s sculptures draw news coverage that save businesses thousands of dollars in advertising efforts.

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View a short documentary about Todd Vander Pluym and SSI. You need QuickTime to view this video.