|...this was his first public work, even if it was crude and miniscule compared to the original in the Boston Museum. Unfortunately, Thom's version was lost to posterity. He progressed into original works.
In 1942 after graduation from Scarsdale High School, Thom's ambition was to attend art school. He intended to enroll in The Art Students League, but his father insisted he go to an art school that would teach him how to earn a living. A friend of his was attending Parson's School of Design, so he got interested in that and signed up for the Advertising and Design department. After about two months at Parsons, Thom decided to join the Navy with his brother, Jim, to avoid the ominous draft.
After boot camp, Thom was sent to Little Creek, VA, for training for Amphibious Forces. After two months of training he was assigned to LCT-528. Their boat was loaded onto an LST and they shipped out to Falmouth, England. They went on war maneuvers, and eventually they were sent to Southampton, and then onto Normandy. Thom remembers June 6, 1944 was a cloudy day in England, but sunny in France by the time they arrived. Thom lived through it. For pictures (original and borrowed) see the Events page. One of his crewmates, Father Patrick Kemp, wrote a first-person account of the invasion, which originally appeared in Assault on Normandy, First Person Accounts from the Sea Services, edited by Paul Stillwell, published by Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1994 and which Thom includes HERE.
After the invasion and some time in France, he went back to Little Creek, then onto Jacksonville, FL where the boat was put into mothballs. Thom went back to New York, and after discharge from the Navy, he went back to Parsons. Three years later, he graduated.
At the time, it was quite difficult to find a job. He started his career doing free-lance illustration. One of his first clients was Charm Magazine (for the Woman on the Go). One day the art director asked him if he knew anyone who was looking for a job, and he volunteered to go on staff. Three months later, his boss told him he had bad news. Thom said, "Yeah, I know, it was in the paper. We're all getting fired, including you." The entire staff was replaced with people who had worked for Seventeen, including the art director, who didn't know the bad news was also for him.
That put Thom on the street. He walked a few blocks down the to the offices of Today's Woman, where he was hired on the spot as an art editor. He worked there for two years until he decided to make a move to House Beautiful as an art editor. One evening, he was sitting with the editor of the magazine in the art department. She asked him what he thought of the cover photograph for the upcoming issue. Thom told her it looked like a Hun's Palace. She was upset, but Thom worked there another year before going to work for Seventeen as the Promotion Art Director.
Art Kane was the Art Director for the magazine, and Thom and he became friends. One of the big promotions they did was for the Barnum and Bailey Circus. The magazine had a circus theme. Thom and Art were asked to be in the walkaround. Thom designed floats for this opening parade. Each float represented a section of the magazine. The first float was a life-size reproduction of the cover, with the model posing as she posed for the cover photo. The floats were executed by the woman who designed the dragon for the stage production of The King and I.
Thom worked at Seventeen for two years, until he became the Art Editor of Parent's Magazine, where he worked for two years before making a career move into advertising at Hockaday Associates as an Art Director.
From Hockaday, Thom went to another large ad agency where he worked on presentations for new accounts. When he took the job, he had offers from two other agencies at the same time. After six months, he called one of the other agencies to see if their position was still available. It was Leuwen, Williams and Saylor. He took that job and worked on five or six different accounts. One of their largest accounts was Coloray, which made a fabric additive product that made fabrics colorfast. A few years later, he got two offers and chose Sackheim. The Art Director of the other agency tried to talk him out of it, but Thom had already accepted the job at Sackheim. Two years later, he had even more job offers from two photographers, each of whom wanted him to become a partner. Thom decided to become a partner of David Vine. Their company was Lafferty & Vine. After that, Thom opened his own studio and worked independently.
Finding photography was finding the niche he had been searching for. At one point his studio address was 333 Park Avenue South, which had been the studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Although he started with only one camera, time went by and his success enabled him to purchase more equipment. Thom later moved to 46th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, which Diamond Jim Brady had built for his girlfriend, Lillian Russell. Thom's career as a photographer lasted about seventeen years, until he decided to go to back to school to get his Bachelor of Arts from SUNY, a Master of Arts in Art Therapy from New York University and a Master of Science in Psychology from Long Island University.
Lafferty has had photographs published in Vogue, Glamour, Evergreen Review, The Washingtonian, The New York Times and in Newsweek.
After retiring from a successful career, Lafferty and his wife moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to be near three of their four grown children. Their extended family has lived in Alameda since 1991.
His paintings are in private collections around the world.