I sat with Tommy the Animator at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture located in Harlem. “I was given the name from Rampage who is a member of the rap group Flip Mode Squad. Tommy calls his pieces “Art Work in Motion.” He grew up in Harlem a place that he defined as not catering to his need as a student. “There wasn’t any art in school while I was coming up. But, art actually saved my life. Sitting down on my own and drawing came very easy to me.”
While in school Tommy had difficult times connecting with the curriculum drawing became his way of canceling out the negative thoughts. “The most talented kids went to the 600 schools. Theses were schools for disciplinary reasons. I was bad as hell and I was always on suspension.” Placed in special education as a school aged child Tommy was diagnosed with ADHD / ADD. Attention Deficit Hyper Disorders and/or Attention Deficit Disorders which is a common diagnoses for Black Males resulting in high dropout rates, high incarceration rates, amd use of illegal drugs.
“I was incarcerated in jail for five years. Everybody came to me to send stuff to their loved ones. I made cards for Valentines Day, Christmas, I Love You Cards. You name it.” Tommy was like a Hallmark while incarcerated. Tommy shared that seven months ago his mom passed away and it changed his life. “I realized that this is a beautiful life. This is my second opportunity. It took mistakes for me to grow and develop.”
At 44 years of age Tommy is bringing his dream to life and is enjoying every bit of it. In 1994, Tommy started doing tattoos. He met a Russian man in jail and he offered to help him with starting a tattoo parlor. When he was reaped from jail Tommy opened his tattoo parlor and did exceptionally well. Once Tommy started tattooing he was asked to make home tattooing visits. His talents were recognized and inspired to dream momentous. His pieces have been featured in the United States, in Europe and Italy. With Love ❤️ Cynthia
Check out Tommy The Animator on Instagram: tommytheanimator
Check out Tommy The Animator on the Web: http://www.tommytheanimator.crevado.com/