Born 1926 in Providence Rhode Island, USA into a family of distinguished architects and town planners. His grandfather, Dr. Thomas Adams, founder President of The Royal Town Planning Institute and an Associate Professor of City Planning at Harvard University. He was director of the Regional Plan for New York in the 1930's. Tom Adams trained at Chelsea School of Art and Goldsmiths College, London between 1946-50, graduating in Fine Art.
Between 1953-60 wrote and illustrated Regimental Histories for Eagle, and various features on natural history for Eagle, Girl and Swift published by Hulton Press. At this period in his life he lived in Trottiscliffe, the same Kentish village as Graham Sutherland, a friend and mentor in these early days.
In 1958 he founded Adams Design Associates with Anna and Andy Garnett and his architect brother, Peter. He produced large murals in the new medium of laminated plastic for various companies such as Airscrew Jicwood, Mitchell-Cotts, Aspro Nicholas, The Royal Bank of Scotland and The Chartered Bank. The disciplines of these professions, architecture, landscape-architecture and town planning, so intimately connected with his family over several generations, have profoundly effected his life as an artist.
In 1965 Adams, with DANAD, helped produce a book Posters Look to the Future with his father, James W.R. Adams OBE, eminent town planner and landscape architect. They mounted an exhibition at the Tea Centre in Regent Street, opened by Sir Hugh Casson in 1966.
During this period Adams was represented by Virgil Pomfret, highly-regarded agent and long-standing friend. With Virgil's representation he began a career as book cover illustrator notably for the early John Fowles' novels The Collector, The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman, published by Cape, and the now famous paperback covers for Agatha Christie, published by Collins in UK and Simon and Schuster in USA. This period covered 1963-1975. A book on Agatha Christie cover paintings, Tom Adams' Agatha Christie Cover Story with commentary by Julian Symons and an introduction by John Fowles was published in 1981 by Dragons World. Other books illustrated by Tom Adams include Aquarial Fish by Keith Bannister (Trewin Copplestone Publishing) and The Great Detectives by Julian Symons published by Orbis.
Tom Adams has won various awards for illustration notably from The American Society of Illustrators, The American Art Directors Association and The Design and Art Directors Association, UK.
Around this time, having completed a private commission to paint a portrait of Benjamin Britten (1971), the Aldeburgh Festival committee commissioned him to produce a limited edition print with the poet, William Plomer and the painter, Mary Potter, as part of the fund-raising for the restoration of the Snape Maltings. Other portrait commissions have included HRH Prince of Wales, Benjamin Britten (twice), J.D. Curran, retiring head of ITA, Frederico Fellini for the Playboy organisation, Bud Flanagan, Richard Dimbleby, President Tubman of Liberia and Enid Blyton.
From time to time Tom Adams has worked on films, mostly science-fiction including Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey and Flash Gordon working with Nicolas Roeg and Mike Hodges, and the production designer, Ferdinando Scarfiotti, where his skills as an illustrator were enhanced by his virtuosity in designing special effects. He was also involved in making concept paintings for Tobe Hooper's Space Vampires working with, amongst others, John Dykstra (Star Wars).
In 1980 Tom Adams, with the backing of Geoffrey Greenwood (a friend, patron and collector of Adams' paintings) opened a new gallery, The Calvert Gallery in Pimlico, London. This established a reputation for promoting the work of young printmakers, mounting post-graduate diploma shows for The Chelsea College of Art and others and providing an art for business service.
Adams has painted murals, Old Master copies and other commissions for major companies such as the Wimpey Construction Group, Lloyds Bank, Aspro Nicholas, Phillips Petroleum, Intercraft Designs and Daiwa Europe. In the late eighties he worked for the Lowe Howard-Spink agency on a series of advertisements for Bell's Whisky, one of which The Books won the 1989 Reader's Digest Pegasus award for Ad. of the Year.
Tom Adams' paintings are in private collections in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Liberia, Italy, Canada and USA. He has exhibited in group and one man shows in London, Marbella, Toronto, Tokyo, Dublin and Sydney. His UK exhibitions include The Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, The Portal Gallery, The Fulham Gallery, The Calvert Gallery, ICA and RBA galleries - all in London. Adams continues to paint and to print and publish his own limited editions.
During the Nineties Adams began an association with Sam Benady owner of the Sammer Gallery, Puerto Banus, Marbella. Benady became an increasingly important patron, commissioning many paintings, some of which were the subject of a major feature in Benady's art magazine, Prestige in 2002. More recently Sam Benady commissioned works derived from Adams' classic Agatha Christie covers. These have been typically much larger than the cover paintings and in a different format.
Tom Adams now lives and works in Cornwall with his wife, Georgie, who writes children's books