From an early age Hawaii artist Thomas Deir wanted to work in a creative field. He wanted to put his ideas into a tangible form that others could enjoy. During his adolescent years, Thomas explored the options that were available to him including drawing, photography, architecture, acting, and music. He became fascinated with visual arts; he recognized that the principles of design and composition are foundational to all visual art.
When he discovered graphic design, he was eager to learn all he could. Deir started from the ground up and by the time he was 15 he was an assistant in a signage department of a major advertising agency in Honolulu. He acquired as much knowledge as possible about sign fabrication and installation. It was a valuable experience. He learned apply mechanical principles and developed a unique problem-solving ability that has served him well over time.
Creativity was his driving force. At the age of 18, while attending the University of Hawaii, Deir was promoted to assistant art director. “Within two years I became the art director and quickly reached a plateau,” he explained, “and I began to look outside of graphic arts for something new.”
A former client approached him with a consultation request regarding the design and fabrication of decorative tiles. Realizing the permanency of tile murals, Deir quickly became interested in its potential and began the process of mastering the medium. As he developed techniques to produce graphic and decorative art in tile, he felt driven to develop as an artist.
Deir soon met a classic surrealist painter who mentored Thomas in fine arts and the skill of painting. This was a turning point for Thomas - his problem-solving skills were engaged as he developed as an artist. It was extremely exciting because he felt that he was equipping himself with the ability to bring concepts into tangible, artistic solutions. He realized that his dream to work in the creative field was coming together in a broader scope than he had imagined.
Within two years Thomas exhibited paintings in three Waikiki galleries and became a top-selling artist. He gained recognition for his inspirational painting, “Christ of the Deep” and in 1994 Thomas was awarded an exclusive commission to paint the famed Loch ness Monster for the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum in Akron, Ohio. Before the museum’s renovation, Thomas’ work was the only painting featured in the museum.
Through the Hawaii Artist-in-the-Schools program, Thomas taught children in 15 Oahu schools how to paint murals on canvas and tile for their schools. Thomas was soon recognized as a tile mural artist. In 2002 he was awarded the commission to create the tile mural for a City and County of Honolulu restoration project – the entrance to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.
The permanent quality of tile art was critical for the Hanauma Bay project. Hawaii’s humidity and salt air can be corrosive for many materials but not for the tile medium. Thomas fires the artwork into the tile making the artwork resistant to erosion. His tile murals will not scratch or fade. This is very attractive to his clients who desire one-of-a kind aesthetic treatment for their homes or businesses.
The accomplished painter and tile artist is making his mark in other medium – stone mosaics. Thomas has designed honū (Hawaiian sea turtle) inlaid stone mosaics for pools, floors, entries, or walkways made of granite, slate, or marble.
With his positive attitude and a combination of artistic creativity and practical problem-solving ability, Thomas says, “Anything you imagine can be created. I will work with a client to design a work of art that will enhance their interior or exterior environment. The custom process begins with an idea and is then transformed into a unique design for their space. Even reproductions (on canvas or tile) can be custom made for a given space.”
His mission: Lead a positive life. Believe in the good in people; be kind, compassionate, humble and patient. Think of consequences when making decisions, and recognize mistakes as an opportunity to learn. Strive for perfection, then be satisfied because you have done your best and nothing is perfect.
Know that gratitude is the key to happiness and that discipline is the key to success.
"I’m very thankful that I can make a career out of creativity and helping people”, says Thomas.
Client list includes:
Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Golf Champion
Glenda Anderson, Designer
Pierre Omidyar, eBay founder
Wayne Parker, Designer
Academy of Applied Science, Concord, New Hampshire
Brigham Young University, Laie, Hawaii
Castle Estate, Kailua, Hawaii
Fish Eye Marine Park, Guam
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Hanauma Bay, Hawaii
Hale Koa Hotel, Waikiki
Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki, Hawaii
Ibusuki Phoenix Hotel, Japan
Kaneohe Ranch, Kailua, Hawaii
Kawaiahao Church, Honolulu, Hawaii
Sea Life Park, Makapuu, Hawaii
Turtle Bay Hotel, North Shore of Oahu
THOMAS DEIR STUDIOS