Tony Thielen

He began drawing early, but nothing about his upbringing suggested a career as a fine artist. Driven by practicality, after high school Tony spent time in the military, earned a business degree and crunched numbers for several years. He continued his habit of sketching during this time, and even used his natural skills to tattoo fellow soldiers using a guitar string and a jerry-rigged motor. Still, the need for a more formal expressive outlet around which to center his life began to emerge.

Returning to school for art direction and design at the Art Institute of Seattle drew Tony to employ his creativity in graphic design and advertising. He spent almost two decades as an award-winning graphic designer, art and creative director, plying his abilities to make other people money.

“I recognized early that I could draw and design, and my skills developed through regular practice. But didn’t get serious and really hone them until after I worked in business for several years.”

Calling himself a “recovering ad man,” Tony’s commercial art and design experience grounds him in the practical aspects of being a fine artist. He now takes inspiration from his fascination by the human figure and portraiture, and the shapes and underlying structure of compositions.

“I am drawn to both the human figure and portraiture, and to capturing the expressiveness of human nature. Rather than representing exact reality, I prefer to merge representation, abstraction, and self-expression to depict the complexity of the human condition.”

Tony finds influence in the works of contemporary artists he admires, including Michael Carson, Melinda Cootsana, Andrew Salgado, and Michael Steirnagle, among others. He draws, sketches and paints every day from his home studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with his wife Carrie and their Jack Russell Terrorist, Cilantro, and their Beagle Parsley.

Tony Thielen