Thom Heyer

Thom's headshot
Freelance Costume Designer and Visual Artist

Education: BCA in Visual Arts, UNC Charlotte (1983)
MFA in Theatrical Design, Southern Methodist University (1987) 

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Thom Heyer is a freelance costume designer and visual artist. In his long career with different theatre and dance companies, television networks, and film producers, he has worked on some amazing projects.

“Some high-profile productions I've been proud to have assisted on are: Broadway's Will Roger's FolliesBeauty and the Beast, and Wicked; the films The Age of Innocence and Mars Attacks; and finally the TV series All My Children, Smash, and Pose, he says. “I've done some of my most creative theatrical work with my husband as the lighting designer at Capital Rep Theatre in Albany, New York, with their artistic director, Maggie Mancinelli.”

Thom has been drawing and painting since he was a small child, and he credits much of his creative side to his grandmother. “My grandmother was an interior designer and artist and was probably my greatest influence in my early years in Michigan. She taught me how to work with oil paints and pastels by age seven. I developed my love of the theatre and live performance in high school when my family lived in Orlando, Florida. My entry into theatre was through acting in high school and civic theatre productions.”

Thom then chose to come to UNC Charlotte, where he combined classes in set and costume design along with visual arts classes. 

“This was when we were known as the Creative Arts Department,” he says. “Its core curriculum was based on creating independent projects. I was able to explore interdisciplinary work by combining my knowledge of art, dance, and music with a choreography/dance major. We created an evening of visual dance performance! Learning the discipline of creating independent projects and having the freedom to explore is what prepared me to be a freelance costume designer and artist.”

Thom said the faculty in the Creative Arts program were great mentors as they allowed him to work and invent projects independently. 

“Don Byrum (printmaking) and Rod MacKillop (painting) probably had the most influence on my visual arts work. Bob Croghan (costume design) undoubtedly had the most influence on my career. He taught me so much about just surviving in the theatre. He encouraged me to hone my design skills by continuing on to graduate school. He's still a dear friend and I'll always be thankful for his guidance.” 

His advice for current students: “Work hard and always stay curious!”