Born, Beaumont, Texas, October 8, 1928, Tom Tierney began his formal art instruction at the age of six with a private instructor, Juanita Brown.
Tom began freelance fashion illustration while in high school for local department stores in his hometown and continued doing freelance fashion illustration in Austin, principally for Goodfriend's Specialty Shop, while attending the University of Texas.
He attended Lamar Junior College in 1945 and 1946. In 1947 he entered the University of Texas College of Fine Arts, graduating in 1949, magna cum laude, with a B.F.A., majoring in painting and minoring in sculpture.
In 1954, Tom moved to New York and attended Pratt Institute (1954-55) where he studied nature drawing with Dorothy Taylor, anatomy drawing with Krushev Ajoutian, sculpture with Calvin Albert and painting under Gustin and Bovais.