His work is ubiquitous in America but he’s not a household name. Thomas Blackshear has illustrated everything from Hallmark cards to postage stamps (James Baldwin, Mother Teresa). But his claim to fame came when his work reached the collectible world. The Hamilton Collection commissioned him to create four series of limited-edition Star Wars collector plates. And you know how those Jedi fans love to collect stuff.
The collection he’s most proud of is his own: Ebony Visions – what he calls “Afro-Nouveau” – a series of ceramic children, cherubs, and heavenly women – seemingly filled with love and hope in peaceful poses. His work is compared to Hummel’s and his fame to Thomas Kincaid’s. Blackshear travels extensively to meet fans and to sign the already collectible. In November 2012, he visited three different military bases over a single weekend to sign his popular “United We Stand Army”, “Tuskegee Airman”, and “Buffalo Solider” figurines.