Thomas Blackshear II
Thomas Blackshear II at work in his studio
Thomas Richman Blackshear II

(1955-11-14) November 14, 1955 (age 67)
Waco, Texas, United States
Years active1987-present

Thomas Richman Blackshear II (born November 14, 1955)[1] 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.

Early life

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.[2][3]


Blackshear designed illustrations for numerous postage stamps issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS).[4][5][6]

Black Heritage series, initiated in 1978:
  1. Jean Baptiste Point du Sable – 22¢ – issued February 20, 1987 (Scott 2249)
  2. James W. Johnson – 22¢ – issued February 2, 1988 (Scott 2371)
  3. Asa Philip Randolph – 25¢ – issued February 3, 1989 (Scott 2402)
  4. Ida B. Wells – 25¢ – issued February 1, 1990 (Scott 2442)
  5. Dorothy Height – 49¢ (Forever stamp) – issued February 2, 2017—in conjunction with Lateef Mangum (Scott 474304)[7]
  1. 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.
  1. Eubie Blake
  2. Jelly Roll Morton
  3. James P. Johnson
  4. Erroll Garner
  5. Thelonious Monk
  6. Coleman Hawkins
  7. Charlie Parker
  8. John Coltrane
  9. Louis Armstrong
  10. 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:
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Gone with the Wind
  3. Stagecoach
  4. 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.
  1. Bela Lugosi as Dracula
  2. Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera
  3. Lon Chaney, Jr., as The Wolf Man
  4. Boris Karloff as The Mummy
  5. Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster
Stars of stage and screen
  1. James Cagney – single – 33¢ – issued July 22, 1999 (designed by Howard Paine, illustrated by Blackshear)
Literary Arts:
  1. James Baldwin – single – 37¢ – issued June 24, 2004
Nobel Peace Prize / humanitarian
  1. Mother Teresa – issued September 5, 2010

Blackshear also created video game box art, including for Karateka (1984).[8]

A touring exhibit of his Black Heritage works premiered in 1992 at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.[9] Blackshear also illustrated the USPS book I Have A Dream: A Collection of Black Americans on U.S. Postage Stamps (1991).[4] 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.

Works and publications

Awards and honors


  1. ^ "Thomas Richman Ii Blackshear - Texas Birth Index". FamilySearch. 14 November 1955.
  2. ^ "Thomas Blackshear - General News - News | The American Academy of Art (AAA)". Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Thomas Blackshear - Artists - Trailside Galleries". Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b Biographical notes Archived 2007-08-11 at the Wayback Machine, Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections. Accessed online 5 November 2006.
  5. ^ USPS Historian, ed. (May 2020) [August 2013]. "African American Subjects on United States Postage Stamps" (PDF). Postal History. United States Postal Service. pp. 1–6. Retrieved November 3, 2020  (citing which stamps are part of the Black Heritage series)((cite web)): CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  6. ^ Black Heritage Stamp Issues 1978 to 2002 Archived 2006-10-27 at the Wayback Machine, Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections. Accessed 5 November 5, 2006.
  7. ^ Store, USPS. " - Store". Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  8. ^ Mechner, Jordan [@jmechner] (13 March 2023). "Jordan Mechner on Twitter: "This wonderful Karateka painting (1984) by Thomas Blackshear II is at @museumofplay, along with my Prince of Persia and Last Express work materials and 1980s-90s souvenirs. My thanks to them, to @internetarchive & all who work to preserve memory that might otherwise be erased." / Twitter" (Tweet). Retrieved 14 March 2023 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Thomas Blackshear II, Accessed online 5 November 2006.
  10. ^ "Thomas Blackshear".

Further reading