Austin discovered sculpting after visiting his grandparents in Prescott, AZ, where they took him on a tour of a local bronze foundry. There, he was introduced to the process of casting clay sculptures into bronze. The owner of a bronze factory in Prescott challenged him to make something out of a ball of clay. He told him if it was any good, he would cast it in bronze. Intrigued and inspired, he took the clay home to Colorado and he began his first sculpture. After several months, he returned to Arizona with a finished clay sculpture of a fireman. Impressed with the sculpture, he cast it in bronze and offered him a summer internship. After interning, he chose sculpting as a career.
He decided to sculpt first responders due to his interest in the police and fire service. In high school, he worked as a student firefighter for the Loveland Fire Department for two and a half years; he subsequently joined Loveland’s student police program. At 18 years of age, he successfully completed one of Colorado’s Fire Academies to become a firefighter. Soon after, he was certified in First Aid, CPR and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Wild Land fire fighting, HAZMAT and numerous other certifications.
His transformation from small pieces to life-size works garnered his first commission with the Windsor-Severance Fire Department. He sculpted a life-size fireman, named “Follow Your Heart” at 19 years old.
Today, he continues to combine his two passions for art and firefighting. One of his projects, National Fire Dog Memorial named “Ashes to Answers”, is a life-size fireman with an arson K-9. The sculpture is located at Fire Station #2 in downtown Washington D.C. “Ashes to Answers” was commissioned by Jerry Means, an arson investigative agent with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI). With this monument, Austin won the most popular monument in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Washington Post in 2014.
“Bronze captures moments for lifetimes to come. The details I add to my work serve as a history of the moment, furthering the legacy of the subjects they represent. Art is in my blood, and the clay has shaped me as much as I have shaped it.” – Austin Weishel