After graduating in 1977 from the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Thomas Blackshear worked for a year for the Hallmark Card Company in Kansas City, Missouri. While there, he met the famous illustrator Mark English and became his apprentice for several months. By 1980, he was working 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, collectors’ 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 magazines. In 2006, Blackshear had a one-man show through the Vatican in Rome. There, he unveiled his painting of Pope John Paul II for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Pope John Paul II Foundation. And in 2020 Thomas was named to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.