Tom Bates


Village artist Tom Bates has been a Village artist for 20 years, and has worked on many of our Village series. He came to the company with a strong background in drawing and painting and a real passion for what he does. “I don’t have a favorite Village because each one has its own characteristics that make it exciting to work on. For example, Christmas In The City is challenging because you have to design very tight and realistic. The design needs to represent an existing building or at least appear to be real. North Pole and Snow Village Halloween are fun for the opposite reason, there you can be loose and as creative as you like in the designs. I feel that it makes your job fun and interesting, I love having that change of pace.”

We know that artists need to be creative all the time and wondered if they ever get a creative “block”. Tom told us that “yes, there are days when everything just clicks and you can accomplish so much. Then with no warning the creative juices just shut off, you have to step away and put your energy into something else. Usually a day or two at most and you’re back designing!”

As far as Tom’s current favorites, “I have a hard time with this because I really like what I’m currently working on, and it probably won’t be introduced until next year. I am proud of how the “Merry Lane Cottages Boxed set” turned out. The idea for multiple pieces appealed to me and I think that collectors will really like the size. The style was based on the theme of an elf cap. They each have a smaller footprint and they are pretty darn cute!” Tom also told us that he really likes the 30th anniversary piece he designed for “Christmas in the City” with the bright red and green holiday colors and hopes that collectors of this Village will also embrace the unique design.

Tom shared his favorite thing about his job is people – all the people he has had an opportunity to meet work with at Department 56,and all the “collectors I have meet through the years. One of my favorite moments was when a longtime collect, someone I had met, was at an event with his grandchild and he was helping him buy his first Village piece. I love seeing the excitement on both their faces!”

Department 56 the leader in lighted collectible Villages, is part of the Enesco family of brands and is located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.