I've been called a lot of things: dreamer, explorer, pilgrim, heretic, charlatan and fool—and those just the printable ones. I've always preferred "writer."
Painting pictures with words was my first love—my creative weapon of choice as early as I can remember—and probably the reason I eventually became all those other things.
I've made a living by communicating—as a graphic designer, art director and photographer. In 1991, I was one of the partners in a successful San Francisco advertising agency. I had been blessed with a nine-year-old son, a beautiful pregnant wife and what looked like a bright future. Life had other plans. The firestorm in the Oakland Hills spared my family but took everything else, precipitating a spiritual disruption that would last more than a decade and coax me to far corners of the Earth.
My journey began with a pilgrimage across the Himalaya to Mt. Kailash in Western Tibet and culminated with a near-death-rebirth in Makkah, Sa'udi Arabia—in unexpected intimacy with two million ecstatic hajjis looking for Divine guidance in a sacred place. It was during this personal upheaval and reorientation that I came to fully appreciate Alfred Korzybski's admonition:
The map is not the territory.
The map within has led me to some strange territories, indeed—wild, stunning, mystical places most people will never see. While I've photographed everything at which I could safely or decently point my camera, I still believe that the written word is the most powerful form of imagery—and still the expression I love most. And writing has taught me the difference between telling a story from experience in the actual territory or relying on a map.
So, I invite you to read and view my work, travel with me to exotic destinations of the mind and imagination, share my observations on life's sacred and profane aspects and then decide for yourself if a picture is worth a thousand words.
Or vise versa.
Tom Joyce is creative director and designer at Creativewerks [ www.creativewerks.com ] and partner at Company History Productions [ www.companyhistoryproductions.com ], with offices in Tiburon, California and Washington DC. Previously creative director at Cohn & Wells Advertising and Retail Concepts; associate creative director at Visa USA, and art director at Cunningham & Walsh, Doyle Dane Bernbach and Allen & Dorward, Tom was a founding partner of Johnson Joyce Brennan, Inc. in San Francisco and a design consultant to other marketing communications agencies in the Bay Area. He has created corporate identities, print, broadcast and on-line advertising, product branding, B2B marketing, event graphics, posters, magazines, books, websites and social media campaigns.
Clients have included: Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, THX Lucasfilm, JBL Audio, Plantronics, Westinghouse, Viacom, Visa, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab, Blue Shield of California, Four Seasons Resorts, Royal Viking Line, Golden Gate Transit, The Gap, Tiger Balm, California Milk Advisory Board, Skyy Spirits, City of Palo Alto, San Francisco Yacht Club, Pacific Vision Foundation and Institute of Noetic Sciences.
Professional awards include: the Cannes Silver Lion, Clio, and Advertising Club of New York for broadcast; and Western Art Director’s Club, Art Direction Magazine, Caples, Andy, and Hermes awards for print advertising and graphic design.
A member of the Explorers’ Club, Tom has published accounts of his journeys and interviews in national magazines, journals, and anthologies. His photography has been featured on book covers and solo gallery exhibits at San Francisco’s Thoreau Center for Sustainability and the Berkeley Shambhala Center.
Left to right: 1992, Vogelsang Pass, California, photo by Bill Zemanek • 1994, Purang, Tibet, photo by Raphaéla Demándre • 2001, Madinah, Sa'udi Arabia, photo by Yassir Chadly
2015, Kret, Afghanistan, photo by Hajj Taha • 2017, San Rafael, California, photo by Larry Dyer