Thomas Skaggs

 Born in St. Louis, I have lived most of my life in the Midwest. I took an interest in art at an early age and for years participated in children’s art programs at the University of Illinois. I continued my studies of design in college with emphasis on painting. I feared that a career in painting would quickly lead me to starvation. So I found a design area that came with a steady pay check, Landscape Architecture. I received degrees in Landscape Architecture and minor studies in Architecture at the University of Illinois. Upon graduation, the University recruited me to work as a Landscape Architect and Campus Planner. As is sometimes the case, I progressively moved up in job roles and eventually found myself distant from the design process that I enjoyed.

Absent from creative process, I took an interest in woodworking while renovating our house. I had an interest in furniture style and design and started making furniture for our own home. I honed my skills by making furniture that was traditional in design and construction. I found it to be a good way to learn the foundations of woodworking, joinery, construction and finishing.

I enjoyed the process of furniture making, but found that traditional style furniture afforded little room for artistic expression. I began to study other forms of furniture design and learned about the work of Sam Maloof, James Krenov and George Nakashima. It was then that I was enlightened to studio furniture design as a transcendent pathway to artistic expression.

Now retired from the University, I have devoted my life to design and woodworking. With my work, I am a restless designer. I get design inspiration from things I see around me. Architecture, nature, machinery and many other visual connections give me visions for my designs. I often allow the nature and figure of the wood I am using to guide design decisions.

My work is an endless journey. I strive for innovation through design and new expression. I like to explore other media and see how it might be integrated in the work I do. Metal, glass and ceramic materials can be exciting integrated elements. But in the end, my work will always be about celebrating the beauty and nature of wood.