A Career in Collectables: Thomas Blackshear Featured in Graphis Journal #371

Our upcoming Graphis Journal #371 (available for preorder) features the stellar work of Thomas Blackshear. From his history as an illustrator to his presence as an innovator of the Western art scene, meet the creative mind behind one of America’s number-one selling figurine line. 

A Graphis Master and fine artist with a roster of work that extends back thirty-six years, Blackshear prominently began his career as an illustrator. He was later renowned for his figurine series, “Ebony Visions,” that captured black characters through incredibly detailed sculptures. The series quickly became the number-one selling black figurine line in the country for over twenty years. 

Blackshear is also known for his artwork, and is currently painting a new set of work for the Western art market in a novel style he titles “Western Nouveau.” Other items on his list of accomplishments is a pristine spot in the New York’s Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame, a well-deserved achievement for a continuously ground-breaking artist. Maryvonne Leshe, the managing partner of Trailside Galleries, describes Blackshear as “an artist who look[s] at Western art through a completely different lens and who possesse[s] a very innovative perspective.” 

Here’s a snippet of our Q&A with the inspiring artist:

What do you like best about illustration?

“I like the challenge of selling a product or telling a story with images. That visual aspect is exciting to me, and I like seeing if I can meet that challenge by showing the story. That’s a good training tool, because over the years I met a lot of artists who don’t have that storytelling skill. It helps you understand people, the world, and how people think about things. To me, illustration is like putting a puzzle together, trying to show different ways of telling a story visually.”

Who has been some of your favorite people or clients you have worked with?

“Lucas Studios, where I did the first Star Wars collectable plates. A lot of the companies and people in the collectable business were also great because of how rewarding it was to work with them. There were some really nice movie studios, and I once had a show in Italy sponsored by the Vatican. The Smithsonian Institute displayed some of my artwork from my ‘I Have a Dream’ stamp book that was turned into a traveling show by the U.S. Postal Service.”

What is your work philosophy?

“I believe I’ve been given a talent by God, and I want to do whatever I can to do the best I can with the talent that I’ve been given. So, I strive to do what I can to be on top of my game by learning as much as I can and growing as an artist. I want to be able to show people that a person can use their talents to create beauty on a high level.”

To preorder your own copy of our Graphis Journal #371, visit graphis.com for more information.

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