Jacob Thomas.

“I work out of home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn NY.  I’m an illustrator. My studio is a loft space that sits above my living room area. It’s large horizontally but vertically the ceiling stops you at approximately 5’3”.  It took some getting use to.

My desk is always a disaster. I clean it after a wave of work. I don’t respect my furniture until it has war wounds. My beautiful iMac has some acrylic paint splatter on it.

To my right is my printer/scanner. I built the 3 shelfer out of pipes and wood which holds paper and drawings once scanned are forgotten on this hot mess.

To my left is a coffee table with a format scanner.  My girlfriend Emily calls it the “Coffee Mug Graveyard.” The table acts as a divider between our desks.  I don’t like collecting my published work, but Emily keeps on me. I’m trying to consolidate by making a scrap-book.

We use an industrial desk for a kitchen table. My friend brought over audio books for me. I’m an audio book freak–keeps me company. My TV stand was a piano bench. I buy things I want to draw. I play the guitar, yet I’m not good enough to be in a band. Pumpkin lights are hanging; Emily loves fall decorations.

My couch is a secondary office where I answer emails while drinking coffee. Hanging on the wall is a painting based on living with Emily. I was frustrated I couldn’t make a mess because (she) Emily’s clean. Then I thought instead of being mad about it why not be inspired by it? So, I painted a Windex bottle, the first of a series called Clean. Hanging are marquee letters spelling Laugh. I like the idea of humor sneaking in my subconscious. My mess stays upstairs. I’m terribly unorganized but it works. And for the record, the living room photo was staged a little, my studio wasn’t staged at all.”

Jacob Thomas picked up a pencil when he was 3 years old and never let go. Growing up in small town Walkersville, MD, surrounded by cows and corn, made him restless. Jacob joined the Coast Guard in 97′ and spent a year in Hawaii doing search and rescue missions before moving to Pittsburgh and becoming an environmental safety officer. He attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and received his bachelors degree in graphic design. Hungry for work, Jacob moved to New York and within a year landed his first published piece which was the cover of Communication Arts. His philosophy in art and life is “the little details make the big picture.”

Jacob’s tight llustrations seem plucked from of non-fiction pulp novel–Russian spies, third term mayors, gossip mongers, celebrities and those ransacking the system.

FROM YOUR DESKS: Did anyone in your family draw?

JACOB THOMAS: Yes, my older brother did. I often say that he was my first teacher. We used to draw little cartoons together.

FYD: Who is on tap musically while you draw?

JACOB THOMAS: Ray LaMontagne, Landon Pigg, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, a little Mike Jackson if I’m feeling too depressed from the previous musicians.

FYD: And you’re a big audio book fan?

JT: I just finished the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy. I went on a Steven King binge. I like science + psychology books. The Science of Happiness was a life changer for me.

FYD: I’m the last person in America to read the Tattoo books. When illustrating your figures, what element is most human to you?  Eyes? Ears? Hair?

JT: Interesting question. I think each person is different. I draw a lot of people and each has a “thing” which makes them – at least visually – who they are. In my work, when the subject is a person, I make creative decisions based on what kind of person I think they are. I imagine their lives.

FYD: What are your inspirational materials?

JT: I‘m a big Hokusai, Norman Rockwell and Warhol fan.  Communication Arts Illustration Annual is always a good one to check out as is American Illustration. One of my favorites is 3×3Charles Hively is a passionate man I admire.

FYD: Favorite Vedder song?

JT: Black.

FYD: “Sheets of empty canvas, Untouched sheets of clay…”

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