After two years of studying Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg, Adriaan Schalk van der Walt changed direction and instead opted to complete an apprenticeship as a Tool and Die Maker. He continued to work as a qualified Artisan within the Automotive Industry for 7 years. He then moved on to the Packaging Industry and it was there that he realised his ability to train craftsmen and discovered his passion for helping people to better themselves.


Three years later he seized the opportunity to develop these skills when he was offered a position at Dassault Systems as a trainer in advanced design and robotics manufacturing technology. His passion for this work soon landed him a challenging position in the Aerospace Industry and he was tasked to implement and optimise the latest manufacturing technology as part of the Airbus A400M project at Denel Aerostructures.


In 2010 Adriaan and his family relocated to Cape Town where he joined the mechanical design team at Optimal Energy who was developing another first in South Africa – the JOULE. This was the first time a South African company attempted to develop an electric passenger car. Adriaan considers this to have been one of the most exciting challenges of his career.


When the funding for the JOULE project came to an end two years later, he started his own design company with the aim to help develop skills in the Design and Manufacturing Industry in South Africa. In addition to this, he sourced more affordable design software to help small manufacturing companies be more competitive in the market.

His company played a strategic role in the establishment of the National Tooling Initiative Program. This was an industry initiative to raise the standard of the national trade qualification to international standards.

Adriaan has been a keynote speaker on technology at several national industry forums including TASA and The South African Institute of Foundrymen.


In spite of his success in the engineering sector, his love for craftsmanship propelled him to do something more expressive, creative and artisanal. It was then that he found figure sculpting and made the risky decision to start a new chapter in his life.

Adriaan jokingly refers to this time as his “Man-o-pause” – when a man pauses to reflect on what he has and still wants to achieve.

When asked why he decided to use his second name, “Schalk”, to sign his art, he said, “Well, seeing as art is a new chapter in my life, I think a new name is a nice thing. Considering that my sculptures will only be one aspect of my life, I suppose it is appropriate to only use a part of my name. But that is all there is to it. Nothing more.”

Family man

Above all, Adriaan describes himself as a family man. This is most evident in the amount of time he prefers to spend with his family, as well as the role he plays in training and helping people in need.

It is then no surprise that his first series of sculptures is a compilation of father-to-son advice, specifically produced for his sons, Ben and Adam. This is an introspective look at the chapters in his life and the values and guidance he would like to convey to the next generation.

In the making

Adriaan looks forward to crafting and sharing his creations, telling his stories and taking his viewers with him on this adventure called art.