Tom Bloom Art Gallery - 1 - The First Six Catalogs

by Tom Bloom, edited by Dan Gregory

Tom Bloom Art Gallery - 1 - The First Six Catalogs

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Some time in the late 1980s book collector and professional cartoonist Tom Bloom and BTC's Tom Congalton met and decided to try a swap - art for books. The collaboration has lasted ever since, and Tom Bloom has now illustrated well over 100 covers for us, as well as numerous lists, spot illustrations, and the artwork for this website. This is the first of several albums of Tom's art that we'll be posting. You may prefer to view this artwork on our page on Facebook (and more here as well), where it was originally posted and where more will be posted regularly until we run out (in a year or so) and Tom has to crack open another box of markers. - Dan

Between the Covers
Catalog 14 ~ Cover by Tom Bloom

From the contents page: "We are indebted to Tom Bloom, artist and bibliophile, for the cover illustration and graphics. Tom's illustrations, which can also be seen gracing the pages of the New York Times and the New Yorker, are only slightly less eccentric than his own taste in books."
This was Tom's first cover for BTC. It was also used for our first T-Shirt. Like many of our early catalogs, it was a wafer-sealed self-mailer. According to the postmark on the back of the few copies that we've re-acquired from book collectors whose collections we've purchased, it was mailed on December 9, 1989.

Between the Covers
Catalog 15 ~ Cover by Tom Bloom

From the contents page:
"We are once again pleased to have our cover illustration and graphics by Tom Bloom"

Between the Covers
Catalog 16 ~ Cover by Tom Bloom
One of a couple of early catalogs that are not in the BTC archive - this scan was provided by a collector.

Between the Covers
Catalog 17 ~ Cover by Tom Bloom

"Just a Bunch of Books"
The first of MANY instances in which Tom B asked Tom C (and later Dan G), "What's going to be in the catalog?" Our catalogs usually didn't have a title until Tom Bloom's art arrived.
From the contents page: "Cover illustration and graphics provided by the capricious Mr. Tom Bloom, who is solely responsible for their content."

Between the Covers
Catalog 18 ~ Cover by Tom Bloom

"Summer for Collecting, the Rest Are for Reading"
From the contents page: "Cover art and graphics are once again perpetrated by the always controversial Mr. Tom Bloom, whose contribution has not been made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts."
Tom Bloom's conversational style is much like the title of this catalog, which may be a clue as to why he became an illustrator.
This was used for the second BTC T-Shirt

Between the Covers
Catalog 19 ~ Cover by Tom Bloom

"Scenes from a Book Hunting Tour of the South"
From the contents page: "In an anonymous phone call, responsibility for the cover art & graphics was claimed for the enigmatic Mr. Tom Bloom, the sixth of these incidents to be so attributed."

Between the Covers
Catalog 20 ~ Cover by Tom Bloom

"Let Them Read Cake"
From the contents page: "Welcome to Catalogue 20. In commemoration of this momentous achievement, we have commissioned the always unpredictable Mr. Tom Bloom to prepare a catalogue cover with a large number '20' on it."

One of Tom C's pet peeves about Tom B's cover art is that our customers often couldn't tell what number catalog they were looking at. Hence phone conversations such as:
"Hi. I'd like to order some books from your catalog number... number... the catalog with the guy on the front."
"A guy with glasses, or a guy with a dog and a piano?"
"Eh, a guy with hedgeclippers."
"Oh, okay. Right! What would you like..."
This was the first of many Tom Bloom covers to incorporate the catalog's number into the artwork, although the number is sometimes so subtle (the rebus artwork of Catalog 65 being the most extreme example) that we often duplicate the number in type as well.

Catalogs 21 - 30 can be viewed in the next Tom Bloom Art Gallery.