The recession in 2008 led Scott Gerber from a career building luxury yachts into a career as a stick-figure sculptor.
Three years ago, Gerber sought to find a new outlet for his energies and some spare boatbuilding materials and decided to create a metal sculpture.
He dubbed it the “Tube Dude” and placed it on his dock. The simple, smiling stick-figure sculptures have become a structural art sensation. More than 900 have been sculpted and shipped as far as Paris.
Tube Dude’s next stop is the Concept Boats booth 3140 outside the Miami Beach Convention Center at the Progressive Miami International Boat Show, which starts Thursday and will continue through Monday.
Seeing the Tube Dude’s new gallery on Sarasota, Fla.’s Main Street, neighbor Chip Fendt, a marine industry veteran and a salesman for Concept Boats, foresaw eye-catching sign holders for the boat show booth.
“These sculptures just make everyone smile. I thought it would be a great way to convey the fun of boating and Concept agreed,” Fendt said in a statement.
So Gerber went back to work designing for boats — but this time for center consoles instead of his own brand of luxury yachts. The Tube Dudes on display will include boat passengers, show attendees and sign holders and will offer a photo op for passersby to commemorate their visit to one of the world’s most popular boat shows.
Gerber is happy to see his sculptures back in the marine industry because his exit was prompted by the recession. He found inspiration in creating a new career and using the welding, powder coating and manufacturing capabilities of his company.
“This is a real American Dream story,” Gerber said in a statement. “Who would have thought that all my ambitions and success — and failure — in the yacht industry would lead to stick-figure art that is making people everywhere smile and be happy?”
A recent growth spurt and a county grant have enabled Gerber to increase the size and location of the company and hire eight staff members. He also has a number of clients in Miami who have Tube Dudes in their homes. The sculptures are used as mailbox, sign, towel and bottle holders.
Tube Dudes range in size and color and can be customized. Made of schedule-40, marine-grade aluminum, they weigh about 20 pounds, have a lifetime warranty and are priced at about $1,200 and up, depending on the size and complexity. Mini-sized sculptures are $200 and up. Standard sign holders are also available for rent.