Thomas Van Houten first started studying sculpture in 1983 at Cabrillo College with Holt Murry. There he began his interest in welding, metal smiting, and tool making. He later studied ceramics and figure drawing at Monterey Peninsula College before receiving a scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute. There he worked with Richard Berger, John Roloff, Robert Rasmusen, and Anna Murch. He graduated in 1989 and was awarded the Issac Walter Sculpture Prize. Devoting himself to providing for his children he worked as a German car technician, eventually becoming an ASE certified Master Technician and Volkswagen factory trained journeyman. He gained some special attention for his ability to fabricate custom parts and specialty tools. Van Houten is currently enrolled in the MFA program at the San Francisco Art Institute and working as a teaching assistant in the metal sculpture department.