We had the good fortune of connecting with Tom Megalis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tom, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
My first memories I have are of me sitting at our kitchen table drawing making art. My family came from Greece and the early years were difficult to say the least. We didn’t have much money, or a car or even a TV. When my parents finally purchased a home they had to rent out most of the rooms to borders in order to make ends meet. I was always an anxious and sensitive child and drawing was a way for me to escape into my own safe world where anything was possible. It was my entertainment and in many ways a protection from the outside world. As I got older I had a high school art teacher, Mr Lees, see my talent and say, “Megalis you could make a living as an artist if you don’t screw up.” From that point on, it was the only thing I focused on. There was no fall back, I was going to make my life doing art and being creative. Of course I did have “day jobs” at times at the beginning, to survive and pay bills. I had three kids to support. But for the most part I followed my heart. Honestly not much has changed since I was six years old sitting at that kitchen table. Thankfully I have been able to create my own little art world.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Over the past few years I have been exploring the use of found objects in my work. I find joy in recycling old discarded materials. I find rusty metal, weathered wood and odd things on the streets that I incorporate into both my commission and personal work. For me it’s as if the material’s history and story continues to live in a new way. Some repurposed materials have ended up in the commissioned public work I did for the national Indian restaurant Choolaah where I created many large scale pieces. I was able to dig deep into the Indian culture, exploring stories, colors and textures. I plan to travel to India soon to gather more inspiration for other works. I try and follow the natural progression of my work and not try and force any direction or style. While I am a big fan of social media for connecting with friends and buyers, I don’t pay much mind to trends. I believe my best art is when I tell my own personal stories or follow my inspirations and don’t worry to concern myself with an audience or the finished piece. I am the proud son of Greek Immigrants and you can see a nod to ancient Greek vase painting in some of my work. I am inspired by the graphic simplicity and story telling of the ancient Greek art.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
My family is spread out all over LA area so my list would be diverse. My youngest son lives in downtown LA so I would hang there for most of the week. So much to take in. Day one we would visit the Broad Museum, check out the SkySpace and I love Union Station! Day two we would hit Chinatown for some amazing food and tea then visit the MOCA. On day three we would spend some time in the Arts District see some local art (both indoor and outdoor) and eat way too much good food. At the end of week I would probably drive out to Palm Springs to visit my son and his family! Sure it’s hot at times but it’s wonderful and relaxing. Lots of old Hollywood history there in Palm Springs. We would do the Aerial Tramway, visit a few galleries in Palm Desert. If my visitors have kids it’s always great to visit the Living Desert. It’s also fun to see the Cabazon Dinosaurs made famous in Pee Wee Herman’s film.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have so many people in my life who support, encourage and inspire me on a daily basis. First off, my wife Denise and our three children Nicholas, Olivia and Zachary are a constant source of love, support and inspiration. For this piece I want to specifically do a shout out to a friend, a supporter and an inspiration; Michael Skloff. I met Micheal years ago when we were students at Carnegie-Mellon University. Michael is spiritual person, a good family man and an amazing creative music composer.