Curry, Tom

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Curry, Tom


Born in Coleman, TX; married; wife's name Susan. Education: North Texas State University, B.A. (art).


Office—Tom Curry Studio, 901 W. Sul Rd., Alpine, TX 79830. E-mail—[email protected].


Painter, illustrator, and political cartoonist. Taylor Publishing, Dallas, TX, graphic artist; University of Texas, Austin, designer and illustrator; Sagebrush Studio, Austin, freelance illustrator; Prickly Pear Studio, Austin, illustrator, 1987-93; Tom Curry Studio, Alpine, TX, founder and illustrator, 1993—. Exhibitions: Artwork featured in solo shows and included in collections in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Awards, Honors

Story Teller Award for best illustrated children's book, Western Writers of America, 1998, for The Bootmaker and the Elves; illustration awards from Communication Arts, New York Art Directors Annual, Print Regional Annual, and Society of Illustrators.



Jim Latimer, Snail and Buffalo, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Susan Lowell, The Bootmaker and the Elves, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Linda Arms White, Comes a Wind, DK Publishing (New York, NY), 2000.

J. Patrick Lewis, Galileo's Universe, Creative Editions (Mankato, MN), 2003.

Susan Wojciechowski, A Fine St. Patrick's Day, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.

Ellen A. Kelley, Buckamoo Girls, Abrams Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, and Texas Monthly.


Tom Curry has illustrated a number of highly regarded children's books, among them Susan Lowell's The Bootmaker and the Elves and Ellen A. Kelley's Buckamoo Girls. A native of West Texas, Curry began drawing as a child, influenced by his mother, a fine-arts painter. After graduating from North Texas State University, he performed design work for Taylor Publishing and the University of Texas before turning to freelancing. His illustrations have appeared in such publications as Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and Mother Jones.

In 1993 Curry moved to Alpine, Texas, and began focusing on his paintings, which often incorporate Southwestern themes. "Most noticeable in Curry's work is a wry, sometimes slightly twisted sense of humor," noted a contributor on the Kiowa Gallery Web site. Describing his artistic style on the Kchisos Gallery Web site, Curry stated, "I guess I would call it ‘humorous despair’ because I see humor and despair in everything. It's just the way our culture is, blending good and bad qualities."

Curry illustrated his first children's book, Jim Latimer's Snail and Buffalo, in 1995. The work concerns the unlikely friendship between an energetic, talkative bison and a tiny, unassuming snail. According to a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, "Curry's stylized illustrations … offer some playful perspectives on the characters' relative sizes."

In The Bootmaker and the Elves, which garnered the 1998 Western Writers of America Story Teller Award, Lowell offers her take on the classic fairy tale "The Shoe Maker and the Elves." When a struggling bootmaker retires for the night, leaving some scraps of leather about his shop, two elves transform the scraps into a pair of spectacular cowboy boots which are ultimately purchased by a wealthy rancher. Curry's "brassy illustrations sashay across the page in blazing, southwestern colors with zany, toe-tickling details," noted Horn Book contributor Marilyn Bousquin, and a Publishers Weekly critic stated that the illustrator's "acrylic dry-brush technique lends an adobe texture to the shop walls, and the outdoor shots capture the unique quality of Southwestern light."

In Comes a Wind, written by Linda Arms White, two ornery brothers constantly attempt to one-up each other. When their mother asks them to tone down the competition on her birthday, Clement and Clyde head to the front porch just as the wind picks up. As the duo swap stories about the biggest storm they ever encountered, a huge gust of wind swoops up their mother and deposits her on the roof of her house, prompting a rescue effort. "Curry depicts the blustery day in American primitive style, with a deliberately flattened perspective and Western details," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. School Library Journal critic Ginny Gustin noted that "Curry's folk-art style acrylic paintings … make a perfect accompaniment to White's witty tall tale." Curry also provided the illustrations for Galileo's Universe, a pop-up verse biography of mathematician and astronomer Galileo Galilei by J. Patrick Lewis. In the words of Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan, "Curry's excellent paintings give a sense of the era as well as dramatically portray people and events."

In Susan Wojciechowski's A Fine St. Patrick's Day, the rival towns of Tralee and Tralah prepare for the annual holiday festivities. When a wee man asks the towns-people of Tralah for help with his cows, they turn him away; the folks in Tralee, however, set aside the competition to offer their assistance, thus earning the villagers an unexpected reward. "Curry's drolly mock-primitive paintings practically glow with color and bristle with texture," wrote Kitty Flynn in Horn Book, and School Library Journal critic Grace Oliff stated, "The folk-art style complements the folktale feel of this pleasant story about the rewards of kindness and community."

Joanna and Susanna, a pair of ordinary cows, transform themselves into cowgirls for one exciting day in Buckamoo Girls, "a flight of sublime silliness," remarked

Christopher Porterfield in Time. After donning skirts, vests, and boots, the twosome spend their time roping steers and dancing at a hoedown. According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "Curry's illustrations depict the kinetic motion," and Susan E. Murray, writing in School Library Journal, observed that Curry's artwork "gives the book a strong flavor of the West."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, September 15, 1997, Julie Corsaro, review of The Bootmaker and the Elves, p. 242; March 15, 2000, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Comes a Wind, p. 1390; December 15, 2003, Karin Snelson, review of A Fine St. Patrick's Day, p. 242; December 1, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of Galileo's Universe, p. 59.

Horn Book, November-December, 1997, Marilyn Bousquin, review of The Bootmaker and the Elves, p. 691; January-February, 2004, Kitty Flynn, review of A Fine St. Patrick's Day, p. 77.

Kirkus Reviews, December, 2003, review of A Fine St. Patrick's Day, p. 1455; September 15, 2006, review of Buckamoo Girls, p. 957.

Publishers Weekly, October 16, 1995, review of Snail and Buffalo, p. 61; September 22, 1997, review of The Bootmaker and the Elves, p. 80; February 21, 2000, review of Comes a Wind, p. 86; January 5, 2004, review of A Fine St. Patrick's Day, p. 61; November 6, 2006, review of Buckamoo Girls, p. 60.

School Library Journal, May, 2000, Ginny Gustin, review of Comes a Wind, p. 158; January, 2004, Grace Oliff, review of A Fine St. Patrick's Day, p. 108; January, 2007, Susan E. Murray, review of Buckamoo Girls, p. 98.

Time, December 11, 2006, Christopher Porterfield, review of Buckamoo Girls, p. 92.


Kchisos Gallery Web site, (December 1, 2007), "Tom Curry."

Kiowa Gallery Web site, (December 1, 2007), "Tom Curry."

Tom Curry Studio Web site, (December 1, 2007).