Michael Lantz began modeling clay sculptures while in high school in New York. He attended the National Academy of Design and the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, where he won first prize for composition in 1928. He was employed in the sculptor Lee Lawrie’s studio for ten years, beginning as a sweeper and working his way up to assistant. After leaving Lawrie, he became involved with the Works Progress Administration and taught sculpture for ninety-six dollars a month. In 1938 he won a competition to design two statues for the Federal Trade Commission building in Washington. This commission brought Lantz national recognition and forty-five thousand dollars in winnings.