It started with just showing dad around the workplace. But then Tom Shefelman, 86, visiting from Austin TX, sat down to get the feel of one of the new Cintiq stations. The drawing technology, new to FIT, comes with a pen to draw and manipulate images on a touch screen. A mangy dog and a cross-eyed character graced the elder Shefelman’s first creation.
A retired architect and practicing artist — and a student of the famous architect and Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius — Tom “has had an amazing career,”according to his son, Prof. Dan Shefelman of illustration.
“As soon as the pen touched the screen, it was as if he forgot he wasn’t drawing on paper,” says Prof. Shefelman.
Prof. Shefelman and his brother Karl come from an arts-filled home. Their mom, Janice, is a children’s book author, and Tom divided his time between his architectural work and illustrating his wife’s story books. Karl is a New York film director and story board artist. “I’m the animator and he’s the live action guy,” says Dan.
While they’ve all seen generations of technology changes in their respective industries, Tom Shefelman never strayed from traditional watercolor for his illustration work.
“I was amazed to see how effortlessly my father took to the tablet,” says Prof. Shefelman. “Although his fingers are twisted with arthritis and some joints are fused with titanium, he has continued to draw and paint professionally into his ninth decade.”
photos: Dan Shefelman