Profile: Thomas Blackshear (1955-)

Thomas Richman Blackshear II 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.


Blackshear designed illustrations for numerous postage stamps issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS), including four in the Black Heritage stamp series:

  • Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Scott # 2249, issued February 20, 1987
  • James W. Johnson, Scott # 2371, issued February 2, 1988
  • Asa Philip Randolph, Scott # 2402, issued February 3, 1989
  • Ida B. Wells, Scott # 2442, issued February 1, 1990
  • Dorothy Height, #474304 issued February 2, 2017—in conjunction with Lateef Mangum.

A touring exhibit of his Black Heritage works premiered in 1992 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

Other U.S. postage stamps with Blackshear illustrations include portraits of Joe Louis, Jelly Roll Morton and Thelonious Monk for the Jazz Series, and illustrations for stamps commemorating James Cagney, The Wizard of OzGone with the WindBeau Geste and Stagecoach for the Classic Hollywood Movies series, as well as several stamps for Classic Movie Monsters. He 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.

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