Art Tag: Get outside and breathe with Tomas Pajdlhauser

By Andrea Stokes – 

In the previous Art Tag column, Ryan Smeeton chose Tomas Pajdlhauser as my next interview subject. I had no idea he had a home studio just a few blocks from my house on Fairmont Avenue. I’ve always been curious about his mansion-like apartment building so I was initially just happy to be getting a peek at the inside of the building.

Then, when Tom brought me to his little studio, I was extra delighted to see the art and design work he’s been producing.

Tom works full time as the art director and background artist for Antique Skateboards and Jam Filled Entertainment, and has made a love of drawing his career.

“I drew as a kid, like we all did, and I maintained it because I had older friends who were really into graffiti and skateboards,” says Tom.

“I draw places just to practice getting better and better at my job,” says local artist Tomas Pajdlhauser. Photo by Andrew Szeto
“I draw places just to practice getting better and better at my job,” says local artist Tomas Pajdlhauser. Photo by Andrew Szeto

Skate and graffiti culture have always shared a connection. They reflect freedom, creativity and a rebellion of sorts.

“Graffiti was really good in Ottawa when I was a kid,” says Tom. “Ottawa used to be internationally renowned, and I was growing up watching both extremely skilled skaters and graffiti artists.”

In high school, Tom was searching for a work placement and became connected with an employee of his father’s flooring business who had a roommate who was working as an animator. This animator was looking for someone to work as a junior designer. Tom had found his fit!

Tom went on to study animation at Algonquin and then worked for ten years—moving from junior animator to art director. Needing a break from animation, he spent a year travelling. It was during this time he really started exploring plein air sketching and painting. His mentors had always told him to get outside and breathe, to feel and smell his surroundings and respond in the moment.

Tom enjoys the outdoors and being away from his desk and computer. He  loves travelling by motorcycle with his tiny painting kit and filling his sketchbook.

“I draw places just to practice getting better and better at my job,” says Tom. “Plein air painting provides me with opportunities to have happy accidents, providing me with so much more than a photo to draw from. Working on an industry standard computer leaves out mood, colour, smells, and the touch of the hand.”

This kind of painting provides Tom with a chance to hone traditional skills, which, he says, is hugely important, and often lost in modern animation.

I was completely taken in by his gorgeous sketchbooks filled to the brim with beautiful ink and watercolour drawings from his travels. These sketchbooks are clearly very special to him but he’s not precious about handling them, or flipping through them. Pages are never torn out. If needed, he will isolate and print an image to frame and sell.

Here’s a peek inside one of Tomas Pajdlhauser’s sketchpads. Photos by Andrea Stokes


Tom says one goal is to have an exhibition and to develop a set of “more refined” pieces. For now, he is very content with an upcoming project with Antique Skateboards, and Maru the Circle Brand (another local design company).

Tom has chosen to tag Sarah Barberry. Sarah is the kind of artist who “gets in there and paints with great expression and originality,” says Tom, “creating work from her imagination that I really admire.”

I can’t wait to talk with her! In the meantime, have a look at Tom’s work at or Consider following to see some of his designs on boards and the boards themselves.

Art Tag is a special series by local artist Andrea Stokes. Each artist she profiles for KT “tags” their favourite artist to be profiled in the next issue. Find the others in this series right here




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