I had to make another dash to Europe last week and will be heading there again in August (the 3rd time in two months). In the meantime I have to go to the field for 2 week and I have the Flugsaurier meeting to get to, plus I’m doing more UV work with Helmut Tischlinger (and being filmed by the Discovery Channel). In short, I am stupidly busy right now and thus while the Musings has already been quiet of late, that’s about to get worse. In order to ease the pain, here’s an interview with prizewinning palaeoartist Luis Rey who is responsible (among many other things) for the banner of this blog and numerous books and more. I caught up with Luis last week and he let me shoot some photos of his collection of art, models and collection of casts and bones which are spread around his studio, workshop and indeed large portions of his home. Enjoy, back soon (ish):
- How long have you been an artist?
Too long to have a clear memory (I think it I started when was around three years of age?). However I can tell you that I started to be a professional artist (that is living from what I do) at the age of 21 . But for that time I had already been attending the academy of San Carlos for three years and before I had been drawing and painting having my father as a teacher.
- How long have you been producing palaeoart?
When I was twelve I did my first “paleobook” (illustrations and all)… well, if you can call it that. However what really got me into paleo illustration was the Dinosaur Renaissance of the 80’s starting with the “Dinosaurs Past And Present” (two tomes and exhibition) and John Sibbick’s and David Norman’s famous encyclopedia. My first formal Renaissance illustration was a painting of a flock of feathered Deinonychus that even Dr, Bakker wanted later! I was an early heretic.
Afterwards it was Marvel Comics and a children book published by Usborne Publishing … the rest is history. Lots of fights to get my feathered dinosaurs across!
- What first got you interested in dinosaurs and art?
The usual: as a kid the aura of the “ancient monsters” and being in awe of their monumental structure and anatomy. Also I was involved very much with science and evolution, but unfortunately in the early sixties there was still this legend of the obsolescence of dinosaurs (they >had< to die… they were the epitome of extinction). So they were and awesome ancient symbol, nothing else.
All this changed in the seventies and eighties with the Dinosaur Renaissance and I got hooked again this time in a very different way. There was this challenge of using your imagination to recreate real living, breathing animals that ruled the world for 169 million years… and they were NOT completely extinct! And guess what? I ended up doing books with the man that started it all (Dr. Bob Bakker)…!
- What is your favourite piece of dinosaur art that you have produced?
I still think is the New Chinese Revolution (Part 1) and the one I called “Dave”. However I really like the Gigantoraptor one… and my new one of the Daspletosaurus being fend-off by a herd of defending Parasaurolophus (originally as part of the Dino Babies, the latest book by Bakker/Rey). But as whole I think the masterpiece has been the Random House Dinosaur Encyclopedia by/with Thom Holtz. (Ed: Available here).
- Who is your favouirte palaeoartist or piece of palaeoart?
I still like Greg Paul for what he did to dinosaurs. I like artists that activate the imagination (not kill it). Mark Hallett had this beautiful piece “Crossing the flats”… inspiring… and I have always liked David Peters (note: as an artist)… have all his early books! John Gurche was an early inspiration and also Donna Braginetz.
Too many to mention!
What is your favourite dinosaur / archosaur?
The Raptors are becoming fast favourites… but I still have thins thing about Tyrannosaurus rex (please note I’m not using the dreadful ‘T rex‘ shortened version). I think anything feathered is a challenge… I want real animals not coated lizards.
Is there any animal you would like to paint but have not?
Too many. I think I want to do a book on all the Chinese Yixian… too many wonderful and strange creatures, and so much information to add details… the more the merrier!
Oh yes, last question: What do you think is the most important part of good palaeoart?
First of all promotion and popularization of science and evolution.
Second: activate the imagination and a hunger for research.
Third: DO YOUR HOMEWORK.