illustrations by tom mcCain

On sabbatical

three artists at different ages drawing in different settings

How is this for the title of a graphic recipe novel? Skewed Perspectives: Randomnicities without time or place, purpose or pace, emanating from an undisciplined mind.

Just rolls off the tongue, right?

My use of the term sabbatical may be odd, but I understand that its original concept as expressed in Leviticus was that people take a year-long break from working the land every seventh year. Our modern version simply is an extended rest or break from routine, typically applied to academicians.

In my case, my half-century career — my day job — was as a graphic designer and illustrator, but my art largely was confined to projects defined by fee-paying clients. Many requested a particular drawing style. Skewed Perspectives is all me, telling a story that has been gestating, percolating, ricocheting in my head for a couple of decades or longer. More than that, it is me finally finding myself as an artist and feeling for the first time that I am finding and refining my illustration style. This has been a long time coming.

Skewed Perspectives. Kinda sums it all up.

Career in the rear (view)

Although my career in the graphic design field began during the dark ages of X-acto knives, T-squares, light tables and wax machines, I successfully made the transition into a digital age. I routinely produced dozens or hundreds, if not thousands, of brochures, stationery packages, print and email newsletters, booklets, pamphlets, folders, ads, and more.

As for my illustrations, most were created for business-to-business or educational purposes, whether marketing, the environment, politics, culture, or a couple dozen professional areas. Regardless of the topic, the consistent challenge was to find an artistic point-of-view that illuminated and enhanced the message; I like to think I did so while maintaining a sense of wit and whimsy, and a multi-dimensional view of possibilities. Many illustration assignments enabled that and I feel so grateful to those clients who encouraged such freedom.

Some work was mundane and a couple involved challenging clients, but it all paid the bills. No regrets but no more, or at least no more than I welcome as diversion.

Now I am on sabbatical. Not retired. Sabbatical.

Cultural values

Volunteer service has been an important part of tom’s life and that personal passion continues. He routinely volunteers for the Friends of Broad Ripple Park and the Broad Ripple Farmers Market.

In 2018, tom served on the Citizens Steering Committee for the Broad Ripple Park Master Plan and, beginning in 2017, the Broad Ripple RiverWalk Task Force. In the past, he volunteered for Friends of the White River, CIBA Foundation, Greenways Foundation, Bicycle Indiana (where he managed its Pedal & Park event bicycle parking program for seven years), IndyCog (now Bike Indianapolis), Hoosier Rails to Trails Council, CHAMP Camp, Indiana Outboard Association, American Power Boat Association, Child Life Services at Riley Hospital for Children, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and as an Indiana Master Naturalist leading school groups on nature hikes at Holliday Park in Indianapolis.

He and his wife, Mindy, live on the banks of White River.