A Texas native, Tierney was born in Beaumont on October 8, 1928, to parents John and Mary Lou. Taking an interest in art at an early age, Tierney studied with several private instructors through the years. By high school he worked for local department stores as a freelance fashion illustrator. His art garnered him scholarships, and Tierney attended a junior college before studying at the University of Texas College of Fine Arts where he earned a B.F.A. degree. As a fashion illustrator, Tierney drew designs for various stores until he entered the U.S. Army as a recruiting artist.
Tierney received many awards for his advertising artwork and painting. Moving to New York, he attended Pratt Institute to further his artistic skills and landed a job with J. C. Penney. His fashion illustrations also could be seen in Sports Illustrated Magazine
, Gimble's, Sear's, Macy's, and other notable department stores. Though he spent time as both a singer and a teacher, Tierney consistently returned to freelance illustration.
Using his artistic talent he created a set of paper dolls for his mother one Christmas, and this led to the book Thirty from the ‘30s.
Tierney's father managed the business end of Tom Tierney Studios; after he passed away, Tom dissolved the company and years later began Tom-Kat Paper Dolls with his nephew Patrick and Patrick's wife Kathy. While contributing to his own business and web site, Tierney also continues his freelance work for Dover Publications making paper doll books and designing projects for B. Shackman & Co. He lives in an old farmhouse he restored in Hopewell Junction.
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