Tom Franco was born in April 1980, at Stanford Hospital neighboring Palo Alto California, which remains the Franco family home town to date.
The middle of three boys, his parents Betsy and Doug had a young family which forced them to switch from the life of art painters to that of business oriented projects, leading to non-profit philanthropic work and children’s book writing.
Tom was encouraged to pursue visual arts throughout his time served in public schools, El Carmelo Elementary, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto Paly grad in ’98, UC Santa Cruz fine art major '02 and California College of the Arts Oakland (CCA) in ceramics.
“The art studio time and the free reign of fancy equipment was the best part of the schools I went to, let alone the cute girls and the foot bag juggling.”
Bill Iaculla was Tom’s first sculpting teacher in Palo Alto through the Pacific Art League where the love for mixed media and found objects came alive.
It took many years for a full blossoming to happen in the arts, which had a lot to do with Tom’s supplemental activities and interests. Meditation became a daily practice in 1996 giving deeper understanding to his visuals of art making.
Full time service positions in a local meditation group began in 2003 and have continued to this day. This provides the background for art as a community service.
Children have always reflected the playfulness for his creative making, and child care jobs and summer camp leadership began in 1999.
Dance ensemble work happened for the first time in 2003 as well as Tai Chi and martial arts. These practices provided the backbone for visual arts taking place in groups instead of in isolation and made performance a central element in understanding visual representation.
It was in 2005 that Tom co-created and later became the sole director for the Firehouse Art Collective in Berkeley CA, a space for artists of all disciplines to co-create community and culture, and for art patrons and collectors to buy cutting edge art of lasting value.
The Firehouse Art Collective five North California East Bay Area locations include: gallery and public art exhibits, curated live art events, open studio art walk, performance theater, workshops, lectures, artist studios, film club movie nights, music events, living spaces and organic gourmet food.
All these projects, are the mature expression of Tom’s lifelong study of what art really is, and an essential element for community to honor and give space for on-going creative expression.
In January 2010, Tom's wife Julia Lazar joined the team, and catapulted the art experience of Tom's adventures into the public eye through her live and social media abilities. She has also become a main collaborating artist with photography and curating live art events. Franco's wife, Julia Lazar Franco (1957–2014) worked closely with Tom. Her death was a result of liver failure (brought on by hepatitis C and liver cancer) and kidney trouble. The two were married in a hospital solarium about a month before her death.
Tom's projects as a sculptor/painter created a new scene: the Tom Franco Co-Lab.
These are works done in tandem with one or more artists where either the piece is traded back and forth until it is considered finished, or the group works in the moment on the same piece side by side.
Very little verbal planning is arranged for this type of work and it is an always surprising result.