Thomas Blackshear II went to work for the Hallmark Card Company in Kansas City, MO for one year after his 1977 graduation from the American Academy of Art in Chicago. While there, he met the famous illustrator Mark English and became his apprentice for several months. In 1980 he worked as head illustrator for Godbold/Richter Studio. He became a freelance illustrator in 1982 and has been self-employed ever since.
Known for his dramatic lighting and sensitivity to mood, Blackshear has produced illustrations for advertising, books, calendars, collector’s plates, greeting cards, magazines, postage stamps, and national posters. His clients range from Disney Pictures, George Lucas Studios and Universal Studios to International Wildlife and National Geographic Magazine. Thomas has illustrated 30 United States postage stamps including four 50th Anniversary Movie Poster Stamps, the Universal Monster Stamps, and the Mother Theresa Stamps. He also illustrated a commemorative stamp book entitled “I Have a Dream.” Seventeen of his original paintings from the publication were exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. and toured the country for eight years.
Thomas has also designed and executed illustrations for four collector’s plate series, including Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Star Trek, and Star Trek, the Next Generation. He is known for his bestselling Christian prints produced for Day Spring’s Masterpiece Collection, including “Forgiven,” “Coat of Many Colors, Lord of All,” “Watchers in the Night,” and “Liberty.” In 1995 Blackshear created his most popular art line today. For 20 years “Ebony Visions” has been the number one selling black figurine collectible in the United States.
Blackshear has taught three semesters at the San Francisco Academy of Art College as well as lectured at numerous workshops throughout the country. He is also known internationally, having taught a workshop in Sweden and toured German Air Force bases twice. In 2006, at his show in the Vatican, Thomas unveiled his painting of Pope John Paul II for the 25th Anniversary of the Pope John Paul II Foundation.