Most works of art - paintings, sculptures, artistic jewelry - are created for a collector or patrons who visit a gallery. The artist makes something, and someone else buys it and takes it home.
Others create large public art - sculptures and statues in plazas and parks, or murals on the sides of buildings. A government agency, corporation, or wealthy individual pays for these oversized pieces and displays them for everyone to enjoy.
Charlotte, North Carolina, for instance, is so full of great new artwork that it's considered one of the trendiest cities in the land. And the old city of Chicago is so committed to public art that every Spring, helicopters swoop down along the Lake Michigan shoreline and drop off huge pieces of art. In the fall, the choppers come back and pick them up again.
A lot of public art - including some statues and many abstract sculptures - is created by what are called metal artists. That's a fancy term for welders who make art out of all kinds of metal.
Some do it as a living. Others who have ordinary jobs do it for fun, relaxation, and to put a few extra bucks in their pockets.
On weekends in New Orleans, for instance, all kinds of people come together in an old warehouse, where they busy themselves with welding torches, turning raw and ragged pieces of steel and aluminum, copper and tin - even gold - into works of art.
Not just New Orleans' famous wrought-iron balconies and fences but also exuberant metal Mardi Gras decorations, eccentric advertising signs, even bizarre metal headboards for beds. One public-relations executive who relaxes with a welding torch, making picture frames, candlesticks, and other smaller pieces, calls the experience her mental floss.
By no means does every art welder's creation turn out to be a work of art. There are many mistakes and failures. That's why the slogan of the metal-art warehouse in New Orleans is, Metals bent, hearts broken, egos mended.