Global Village

Tommy Knows Best

Illustration: Tommy Kane
Words: Tommy

I spent over 35 years as a creative director in advertising. It began when I moved to New York City in 1980 fresh out of art school. Little did I know, I would create major ad campaigns for clients such as Samsung, Liz Claiborne, Barnes & Noble, Yellowtail Wines, and Le Meridien Hotels. One of my most famous campaigns was for Steve Madden shoes. Those ads that had the girls with the big heads. My TV commercial for him was a big part of Martin Scorsese’s movie, “The Wolf Of Wall Street”. Also two of my television commercials are in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. Through advertising, I hooked up with some directors in the 1990’s and was able to art direct music videos for MTV. I worked with Lenny Kravitz, Robert Palmer, Buster Poindexter, and Wynton Marsalis to name a few.

Most creative people in advertising can’t draw even though they went to art school. I was the rare exception. In fact, I drew and painted all the time. I’d sketch in my office, on airplanes, on film sets, in meetings, in my apartment, and in the streets around the world. I eventually published 2 books of my illustrations. They’re titled, “All My Photographs Are Made With Pens” and “An Excuse To Draw.” Both are available on Amazon or where books are sold. You see, I’m even doing an ad for my own books. Five years ago I became vegan. Since then I’ve done a lot of editorial illustrations about the subject. Later this year, I have another book coming out. I convinced 20 other artists from around the globe who do artwork based on being vegan to participate.

Since retiring from the ad game, I’ve taken up ceramics. Last year, I had a show of my paintings at the Peninsula Art Gallery in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I’m a regular at most of the life drawing classes around town. Now all the young hipster artists who attend know who I am.