Production Designer & President, Art Directors Guild (Local 800)

Production Designer Thomas A. Walsh has been serving as President of the Art Directors Guild since January 1, 2003. The union was then also known as IATSE, Local 876. He succeeded Jack De Govia, who served from 1999 through 2002.  Walsh previously was a member of the Guild’s Executive Board and Co-Chairman of its Film Society.  In September of 2003, following a merger with Scenic, Title and Graphic Artists (IATSE Local 816), Walsh was elected President of the newly re-named Art Directors Guild & Scenic, Title and Graphic Artists as well as Chair of the Art Directors Guild Council.  The merged unions became IATSE Local 800. In 2008, IATSE Locals 790 and 847, representing Set Designers, Model Makers, Illustrators and Matte Artists, merged into the Guild.  In December 2009, the membership voted to change the name of the Guild to Art Director’s Guild. The total ADG membership now numbers 1,800.

Walsh was born in Los Angeles in 1955 to a show-business family.  His father, Arthur Walsh, appeared in many musicals, comedies, dramas and shorts while under contract to MGM Studios.  Later his father was a successful nightclub comedian on the Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Reno circuit.

Walsh’s interest in narrative design developed at Hollywood High School, where he designed and staged plays and musicals.  He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Design from California Institute of the Arts.

He has designed for feature films, Imax/Omnimax, television movies and series, documentaries, Broadway dramas and musicals, and regional theatre.

Walsh is the winner of a Primetime Emmy for Art Direction and an ADG Award nomination for Buddy Faro (1998).  He is also winner of the 2004 ADG Excellence in Production Design Award for a Single Camera Series for the hit ABC-TV show, Desperate Housewives.

His work on In Search of Dr. Seuss (1993) garnered another Emmy nomination as well as a Cable Ace Award.  Walsh also did production design work on MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992), which won an Emmy for Best Informational Special.

Walsh is a leader in designing for Imax and one of his projects, The Living Sea (1995), received a Documentary Academy Award nomination. He designed the Tony Award winning Best Production of 1980 (Children of A Lesser God) and was associated with three other Tony Award wins for Best Production from his work as an associate designer with famed Production Designer Tony Walton (I’m Not Rappaport, 1986; The Real Thing, 1984; My One and Only, 1984).

In addition, Walsh was nominated for a second Cable Ace Award for Kingfish, A Story of Huey P. Long (1994). He most recently was the production designer on ABC-TV’s hit series, Desperate Housewives for four seasons. Walsh is Co-Chairman of the Art Directors Guild Film Society and has been a member of United Scenic Artists in New York for 28 years.

Walsh is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Center For Film & TV Design, a non-profit organization of prominent motion picture and television production designers, illustrators, set designers, costume designers, library professionals, business executives and other industry creative artists. The Center’s mission is to preserve outstanding design achievements and advance understanding of design through publications, activities, exhibitions and special events; support scholarly research; rescue endangered film and television design history; and explore new design technologies.

Speaker years: 
2012