Tom Bates


As Department 56 celebrates the 40th Anniversary of our company, we pay tribute to our artists who draw, create and collaborate of hundreds on new products each year.

Village artist Tom Bates has been a Village artist for 19 years, and works 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, 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 asked Tom if he could design any historical building (with no restrictions whatsoever) what would it be, and why would you chose it? “I think that I’d love to work on St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. I love that it has almost a Disney feel with a wonderful use of color, the interesting onion domes and the arched features.”

Tom’s favorite new piece for 2016 is the “Nighthawks” for Christmas in the City. “It’s not the design of the building per se, but the feeling of the interior that captures the essence of the painting by artist Edward Hopper that I like.”

Tom shared that he is constantly inspired by our collectors. “It’s not so much about what has inspired me, but that I design something that the collectors can have a connection to! Maybe the piece brings back feelings from their childhood, or maybe it’s because the piece is too cute to pass up. In the big picture, I just want the person, or the family buying the piece to enjoy it.”

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