Long Beach Artist: Tom Vadakan
2009-11-03 · By Deana Rodriguez
Tom Vadakan is a freelance artist located in the Los Altos area of Long Beach, California. His independent work has been shown in galleries around the world, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Barcelona.
He’s also been on the graphic arts side of the music world for more than a decade, re-creating classic album covers for labels like Blue Note; designing t-shirts for music acts and tours; and creating design concepts, road merchandise and pre-production samples as a Lead Merchandiser.
For Tom, all of these professional and independent art worlds work hand-in-hand.
Vadakan focuses his art on people and their relationships with music. Many of his artistic characters appear, on the surface, to be caricatures. However, certain characteristics make the viewer want to know the stories behind their otherworldly lives. They calmly stare out, as if into a camera lens, and display a depth and a personality not found in your typical caricature. All of his characters have a story; they’re based on a mixture of real people — musicians, family members, and friends — to create what the artist calls his, “Modern-Day Folk Art.”
In Vadakan’s world of leached-bleeding colors, everyone’s a tad too skinny. Most look like they need a good nap. Notable things — a great tattoo, a pair of full-weathered lips, a cigarette hanging low — expose a rawness in these human renderings through scratched pencil, ink, Illustrator, grit, a poetic intermingling of text, and acrylic on wood.
For example: “All Dressed Up” is a tri-toned and shady piece. Musical and pop-culture inspirations abound: The cat woman mask, the vague Johnny Cash t-shirt that doesn’t quite cover her midriff, and his “I heart Elvis” cap do all of the talking for these characters, with their signature Vadakan stares.
To see more of Tom Vadakan’s work, go to: www.urbancowfolks.com. The Long Beach artist can also be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.