My name is Steven Austin and I was born in South-East London, England where I grew up and eventually started work as an apprentice patternmaker with Ford Motor Company at the age of 16.
With the onset of plant closures in England during the late 70’s and early 80’s I decided to chance my luck and go contracting in Europe, which at that time, work for skilled patternmakers and modelmakers was in demand on mainland Europe. I was fortunate to be able to work for various automotive companies as a model maker, which was a natural progression from patternmaking and being one of the youngest members of the team, as such, it provided quite an adventure.
During those early years, work was plentiful within the automotive business and contracts were always available but with the onset of digital technology the need for hands-on pattermaking and model making was on the decline.
During one of my contracts I was placed in the design department to help out with the clay modeling of advanced designs. This stroke of luck opened a whole new doorway and it was a case of sink or swim. It was here that I learnt to adapt some of my modeling tools to suit the needs of clay modeling, buying myself some time to make my own purpose made tools during my lunch breaks. These tools are still used today on a daily basis, 25 years later, many of which are used as templates on the pages of my website Clay, Application to Refinement. (www.claysculptors.com)
There were only a few professional clay sculptors on contract at that time so it was the case of learning as much as possible from them and adapting their methods to suit my own style. These clay modelers were in the same situation as myself with the threat of unemployment in their own country but willing to use their skills wherever it was needed, training people who were willing to learn, free of charge. For me this was the biggest breakthrough, asking questions and being able to try out the methods in a style that I felt comfortable.
Today, I reciprocate that unselfishness of my past mentors by giving you the same opportunities in learning the same skills that I have, ask questions, engage in conversations, it’s all free. During my time in the US I have been fortunate to have worked for automotive companies such as VW/Audi, Kia, Hyundai, Porsche Engineering and General Motors. Currently I am the sculpting manager for GM Advanced Design in California.