Tom’s Background

Tom began his career as art director of the American Kennel Club where he helped to re-shape the association’s image through the redesign of its monthly magazine and many other publications.

With the advent of digital publishing, Tom saw an opportunity and Carling Design was launched with a focus on magazine design. Covers, startups, and redesigns in the consumer and B2B sectors punctuated art direction of quarterly kid’s magazines for Topps and Lucasfilm. At the same time, Carling began a very long association with Time Inc, producing native advertising inserts for Sports Illustrated and other titles. 

Tom with daughter, Tian (and hair), at a parent read-aloud session, NYC PS 234. 

In more recent times, book design has dominated the studio. Working directly for publishers or in partnership with book packagers, Tom has produced hundreds of children’s trade and school/library nonfiction books for publishers such as Scholastic, Facts on File, and Dorling Kindersly (Eyewitness). This naturally led to assignments from high school and college textbook publishers, like Macmillan Learning, who, wishing to tap Tom’s expertise in trade publications for young readers, have engaged him to design some of their most important titles in the sciences and humanities.

Tom works out of his loft in lower Manhattan, next to the Brooklyn Bridge, where he lives with his daughter, Tian.


My clients tell me I put them at ease because I’m as engaged, collaborative, and dedicated to results as any in-house member of the team. They tell me I offer the best combination of talent, dependability and price and they reward me by coming back time and again. The average length of relationship with my top five clients: 12 years.

Here’s what one of them has to say. Read more testimonials here.

Career Highlights

  • Average length of relationship with top five clients: 12 years.

  • Redesigned What is Life?, best-selling college biology textbook in U.S. for Macmillan. 2013

  • Redesigned Scholastic’s annual Year in Sports; sales up every year. 2009 – present

  • Hired by Holtzbrink VP, John Sargent as a design consultant for Bedford/St. Martins and WH Freeman. 2003 – 2005

  • Generated 600K+ in unit sales for Scholastic with innovative design for Book of Lists. 2003

  • Several children’s books recommended by the American Library Association for reluctant readers. 2000 – present

  • Created more iconic DK Eyewitness and other DK books than any other outsourcer

  • Created hundreds of special sections for Sports Illustrated bringing in 300 MM+ in revenue. Sections regularly placed in the top 10 most noticed features. 1990 – 2007

  • Art directed 20 issues of Star Wars Magazine (Topps Co./Lusafilm) 1995 – 1999  

“Tom has been an absolute delight to work with. His design solutions are always fresh, creative, and distinct. Tom is simply unflappable. Never one to get frustrated when given difficult requests; he works until he gets it right! When I make presentations of the books that our company produces, I always show the books Tom designed as examples. I recommend Tom Carling highly. HE LISTENS, HE HEARS, HE CREATES GREAT SOLUTIONS.”
— Anna Palchik, Senior Art Director, Bedford/St. Martin’s