Artist Thomas Blackshear II, the son of an air force captain, was born in Waco, Texas, and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. "Drawing was all I ever liked to do," says Blackshear. "While all the other guys were playing baseball or basketball, I was in my house, drawing." Thomas Blackshear pursued an interest in art throughout high school, securing a scholarship to the Institute of Art in Chicago. After a year there, he transferred to the nearby Academy of Art on another scholarship. While finishing his college education, he was recruited by Hallmark Cards. Thomas Blackshear and his wife, Ami, now live in Colorado. A much-honored painter, Blackshear has received many awards, including the Society of Illustrators's coveted Gold Metal. His highly awarded work also appeared in the Society of Illustrators Annuals and Outstanding American Illustrators Today, Volume Two.