Thomas Blackshear II
Thomas Blackshear II at work in his studio
Thomas Richman Blackshear II
November 14, 1955
Thomas Richman Blackshear II (born November 14, 1955) is an African-American artist, many of whose paintings adorn Evangelical churches. He is also a sculptor and a designer of ornaments, often of African American themes.
Blackshear was born in Waco, Texas. He grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.
Blackshear attended the Art Institute of Chicago and then American Academy of Art in Chicago.
Blackshear worked for Hallmark Cards for one year after his 1977 graduation from the American Academy of Art.
Blackshear designed illustrations for numerous postage stamps issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS).
- Black Heritage series, initiated in 1978:
- Jean Baptiste Point du Sable – 22¢ – issued February 20, 1987 (Scott 2249)
- James W. Johnson – 22¢ – issued February 2, 1988 (Scott 2371)
- Asa Philip Randolph – 25¢ – issued February 3, 1989 (Scott 2402)
- Ida B. Wells – 25¢ – issued February 1, 1990 (Scott 2442)
- Dorothy Height – 49¢ (Forever stamp) – issued February 2, 2017—in conjunction with Lateef Mangum (Scott 474304)
- Joe Louis – 29¢ – issued June 22, 1993
Legends of American Music, Jazz Musicians series: Ten single 32¢ stamps issued September 16, 1995. The production was designed by Dean Mitchell
and illustrated by Blackshear.
- Eubie Blake
- Jelly Roll Morton
- James P. Johnson
- Erroll Garner
- Thelonious Monk
- Coleman Hawkins
- Charlie Parker
- John Coltrane
- Louis Armstrong
- Charles Mingus
Hollywood's Golden Era Movie series: Four stamps, printed in one block, were dedicated March 23, 1990, in Hollywood
as a prelude to the 62nd Academy Awards
. 1990 marked the 50th anniversary of each film's having received nominations in 1939 for the 1940 Academy Awards. Each stamp resembles a miniature movie poster
. Clockwise from the upper left:
- The Wizard of Oz
- Gone with the Wind
- Beau Geste
Classic Movie Monsters: Five movie monsters issued September 30, 1997, in a pane of twenty 32¢ stamps. The selvage
contains a photograph of each actor and his signature. The production was designed by Derry Noyes (whose father is the late architect Eliot Noyes
) and illustrated by Blackshear.
- Bela Lugosi as Dracula
- Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera
- Lon Chaney, Jr., as The Wolf Man
- Boris Karloff as The Mummy
- Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster
- Stars of stage and screen
- James Cagney – single – 33¢ – issued July 22, 1999 (designed by Howard Paine, illustrated by Blackshear)
- Literary Arts:
- James Baldwin – single – 37¢ – issued June 24, 2004
- Nobel Peace Prize / humanitarian
- Mother Teresa – issued September 5, 2010
Blackshear also created video game box art, including for Karateka (1984).
A touring exhibit of his Black Heritage works premiered in 1992 at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. Blackshear also illustrated the USPS book I Have A Dream: A Collection of Black Americans on U.S. Postage Stamps (1991). Multiple pieces of Blackshear's artwork serve as the cover art for American rock band The Killers's sixth studio album Imploding the Mirage (2020) and its singles. Blackshear's original oil paintings in the Western Nouveau genre similar to “Dance of the Wind and Storm” and the other pieces used for The Killers's album can be found at the Broadmoor Galleries in Colorado Springs.