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155: Showing Up & Growing Up as a Commercial Illustrator with Mr. Tom Froese

Updated: Nov 22, 2023



I met Tom at DesignThinkers Vancouver in May of this year where he was facilitating an illustration workshop. After the day’s events, he and I chatted about our shared passions for podcasting and teaching, which led to the episode you’re about to hear.


Mr. Tom Froese is an award-winning illustrator, teacher, and speaker. He loves making images that make people smile. Tom’s is known for his lively maps, characters and scenes, created with expressive shapes, bright colours, and printmaking-inspired textures. Since 2013, Tom has worked for brands and businesses all over the world. Esteemed clients include Yahoo!, Airbnb, GQ France, and The Wall Street Journal. He graduated from NSCAD with a Bachelor of Design (honours) in 2009.


Tom is a Top Teacher on Skillshare, where over 120,000 students (and counting!) have learned his unique and accessible approach to commercial illustration. Tom has been invited to present workshops and talks to creative audiences across the US and Canada, including ICON, Skillshare, and DesignThinkers. In 2022, Tom launched Thoughts on Illustration, a podcast about showing up and growing up as a commercial illustrator.


In this conversation, Tom shares his professional origin story and early influences, what it means to ask the right questions of your creative work, how he uses constraints, as well as handling criticism of one’s creative work. Tom and I share teaching lessons we’ve each learned over the course of the last decade and you’ll hear what’s next for Tom’s work.


Let’s listen in…




About Our Guest:

Mr. Tom Froese is an award-winning illustrator, teacher, and speaker. He loves making images that make people smile. Tom’s is known for his lively maps, characters and scenes, created with expressive shapes, bright colours, and printmaking-inspired textures. Since 2013, Tom has worked for brands and businesses all over the world. Esteemed clients include Yahoo!, Airbnb, GQ France, and The Wall Street Journal. He graduated from NSCAD with a Bachelor of Design (honours) in 2009.


Tom is a Top Teacher on Skillshare, where over 120,000 students (and counting!) have learned his unique and accessible approach to commercial illustration. Tom has been invited to present workshops and talks to creative audiences across the US and Canada, including ICON, Skillshare, and DesignThinkers. In 2022, Tom launched Thoughts on Illustration, a podcast about showing up and growing up as a commercial illustrator.


Tom works from his backyard studio in the village of Yarrow, British Columbia, just outside of Vancouver. He lives with his wife, Amanda Froese, their two highly creative daughters, and the family cat, Blueberry. Tom is an Aspiring Dog Person and has agreed to share his living space with Bobby the Costco Doodle. In his spare time, Tom loves to get outside and run.




Music: Weird Science by John Bartmann, Licensed Under CC0 1.0 Universal


Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle


Episode Artwork: Tom Froese


Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash

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