Interview with Luis Rey

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?
Three things:
First of all promotion and popularization of science and evolution.
Second: activate the imagination and a hunger for research.

21 Responses to “Interview with Luis Rey”

  1. 1 Albertonykus 21/07/2010 at 11:26 am

    Nice Deinonychus model. And hadrosaurs fending off a tyrannosaurid! That sounds very cool.

    • 2 David Hone 22/07/2010 at 1:59 pm

      Luis has sent me a copy to post here (yay) but I’m in the field and can’t get it from e-mail to wordpress. Come back in about 10 days…

  2. 3 Crazyharp81602 21/07/2010 at 12:12 pm

    I would love to see that painting of that!

  3. 4 Glendon Mellow 21/07/2010 at 6:26 pm

    Terrific interview! I love the three rules.

  4. 5 cromercrox 21/07/2010 at 7:58 pm

    I’ve had the pleasure of working with Luis on a book (A Field Guide to Dinosaurs). He designed the cover for another book of mine (The Scidence of Middle-earth) and we have plans for more books brewing. You forgot to say anything about Luis’s primary motivation – the music of Led Zeppelin, on which he is a noted authority!

    • 6 Luis Rey 23/07/2010 at 5:19 pm

      As a little PS for the interview.
      Thanks to David for his visit (and gardening tips).

      Henry Gee is one of the most acclaimed science (and also fiction?) writers today… his blog is famous worldwide and what we did together (the Field Guide) was one of the most remarkable collaborations I have had in my life… hopefully someone somewhere will allow us to do another!?

      And about the music (I wouldn’t call LZ my absolute primary motivation, there are too many!)… well, it is mental FOOD you know? How artists could cope without music?

      And Henry does know that very well…

  5. 7 mattvr 22/07/2010 at 8:09 am

    Gotta love the collection of stuff!

  6. 8 David Hone 22/07/2010 at 2:01 pm

    cromercrox: I asked him about that and he claimed that dinosaurs are his dirst passion above LZ. But his collection of bootlegs is fantastic and he and I are planning to swap Floyd stuff….

  7. 9 Nima 27/07/2010 at 11:19 am

    Whoa great interview and excellent models! As much as people like Luis Rey’s paintings, I think his sculptures are even more impressive. Hehe I want one of those feathered raptors! NOW lol!

  8. 10 from IRAN 01/08/2010 at 4:31 pm

    I like pink, blue, yellow colors in Rey’s drawings. but, his method and Dinosaurs are not good. he is not a good artist for drawing of Dinosaurs(specially, T.rex) with good figure.

    his drawings about face of T.rex is similar to cartoons.

    however, I like his drawing about Polacanthus.
    Would you send my Email a wallpaper size of his Polacanthus?

    wallpaper size of a picture have many details about drawing.

    Best wishes from IRAN

  9. 11 David Hone 01/08/2010 at 9:43 pm

    You need to ask Luis if you want a copy of his artwork (muxch is for sale – he is aftewr all trying to make a living). And i suggest you do not mention you don’t like his tyrannosaurs if you intend to get free work from him!

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