Tom Bolles is a San Francisco native born into a family involved in art, architecture, and archaeology. In spite of where Bolles was born he believes himself to be an East Coast person who happens to be living on the West Coast. Bolles went to boarding school in Massachusetts, college in Philadelphia, and lived for a couple of years in New York City. He currently resides in San Francisco.
Bolle’s house was filled with art ranging from lesser known abstract and figurative paintings by students and professors at the San Francisco Art Institute to European and New York abstract paintings his father acquired while traveling. Besides being an architect, Bolles father owned one of only three contemporary galleries in San Francisco at the time, so art was ever present in his early life. During the mid-sixties, Bolles was attracted to op and psychedelic art. Despite being very different styles, both genres were similar in their use of saturated, brilliant colors.
Bolles characterizes his art as being about the materials, the finishes, and the colors. In order to consider his work successful, it must “attain an indefinable and elusive balance of color, light and texture.” "Formal" is the word most commonly applied to it. His artwork is “sketched out” first with a computer program. Due to the digitization of the image, zeros and ones from the binary code, are left behind and become part of the work. In Bolles work, he sometimes favors a painterly approach to, no doubt subconsciously borrowing from artists like Pierre Soulages and Hans Hoffman. Other times Bolles favors hard edges and brilliant colors, reflecting the influences of painters like Julian Stanczak or poster artists like Victor Moscoso. Bolles work also references back to minimal pieces, reflecting the influence of artists like Ad Reinhardt and Agnes Martin. All of these styles intersect in many of his pieces, maintaining a soft layering of color which fades to the end of the image, and almost machine like line making and precision.