Today we’d like to introduce you to Tom Anastasios Megalis.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I am the son of Greek immigrants. My father Nicholas, thirty years older than my mother, was a steel worker who was retired by the time I was born. My mother took over as the breadwinner of the family and worked in a run-down industrial laundry for many years to help us get a TV, a car and other normal American things. She also helped to put me through Carnegie-Mellon University. My mother and father are my heroes.
To make ends meet, my Greek parents rented out most of our home. The “roomers” as we called them, were men from all walks of life. Space was money. I slept with my dad in a tiny room and my sister and mother slept in the dining room. The rest of the house was for the “roomers.”
Having a group of strange men in my home has shaped my love for “characters and story.” This has been much of the driving force for most of my work.
Please tell us about your art.
As a child I suffered from crippling anxiety. From ages 6 to 11 instead of playing kickball in the schoolyard, I was seeing a bevy of doctors at the Cleveland Clinic. With each medical test my anxiety grew like an ominous dark storm.
At the height of this, I began to draw daily. It seemed the more I drew, the more the anxiety would lift. It was like watching a monster in your rear-view mirror get smaller and smaller as I drove away. Making art was a place where I could escape the anxiety, a safe world where anxiety could not live.
Today I make art each and every day. It’s not a choice, it’s a way of life, a love, a need, it’s how I support my family. Aside from the healing aspect of art and how it literally saved me, art is my way of storytelling, documenting my life and understanding characters that I meet.
My hope is that viewers of my work will feel the absolute joy and escape I have when I make art. I try to utilize found objects in my work, things I sometimes find on the streets and along railroad tracks. These familiar everyday textures and colors hopefully connect the viewer to my art.
As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
For me there are several sides to being successful. The obvious one is “selling work.” Once you begin to sell work to people other than your friends and family, you begin to feel successful. For me I felt I was successful when I was doing art every day, all day and the bills were being paid. I may not have been rich, but art was floating the family boat. It amazed me that I could make something in my studio out of wood and paint and turn it into money. That was the first moment I said, “damn, I made it.”
After that, success to me was “who cares?” Was I doing work that was different, art that meant something to me and was more than just wall decoration. Was I contributing something to the world? It didn’t have to be work that had a political statement or was earth changing. Was the art coming deeply from within me? Was it being filtered through my entire body, soul and mind? Was it true to me? Once I began to come close to this, I felt even more successful.
The third element of success for me is “am I living a life?” Am I being present and a good husband and father? As a creative person it is easy to get all consumed into your art making world and forget to love your family, play with your pets, laugh with your children and enjoy pasta and wine. To really be “here.” For me, to balance all three of those elements is the definition of success.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Thankfully my work is now being collected by buyers in LA and around the world. People can see my work on my website http://www.tommegalis.com/ find me on Instagram @tommegalis or friend me on Facebook www.facebook.com/tom.megalis. I also post my short films and animations at www.youtube.com/user/megalisstudio.
- Website: http://www.tommegalis.com/
- Phone: 440 570 7982
- Email: Tmegalis@gmail.com
- Instagram: @TomMegalis
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/tommegalisart
- Other: www.youtube.com/user/megalisstudio
All Images are Tom Megalis art and owned by Tom Megalis.
People in the images are: Henry Yocco, art buyer. Olivia Megalis, daughter. Michael Skloff, art buyer.