The life of an illustrator can be an odd one. My career has always been directed by my love of art, design and nature. While in school I studied Art and Biology at Boise State University. Strangely enough I continued on to a Master's program in Marine Biology from the University of Oregon. When I completed that I had a choice, go on to a Ph.D. or see if I could "make it" as an artist before committing to a life as a scientist. I decided to give freelance illustration a try for a year. If it didn't work out I could always go back to biology.
I put out adds and began literally knocking on doors to find work. I sought out researchers at Oregon State University, local businesses and anyone else who would hire me. Over time I developed a local Oregon clientelle. Within a year I was working on projects for the American Fisheries Society and Weyerhaeuser Company. The list of clients gradually grew to include MIT, St. Martin's Press, Arizona Highways, Archer Malmo, Oregon State University and others.
After several years of doing freelance work I accepted the position of Senior Biological Illustrator at the University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology in 1996. This position provided me with the opportunity to expand my skills in traditional and digital illustration. I also taught classes as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Michigan's School of Art. I spent two summers in Wood's Hole teaching science illustration ornithology and marine ecology. In 2006 I illustrated my first Children's book, "The Fox and Johnny Valentine's Blue Speckled Hound" by Richard Alexander . This led to illustrating "W is for Waves" in 2008 for Sleeping Bear Press. That was a great experience for me and I hope to continue illustrating children's books into the future. In 2009 I was accepted as a member of Artists for Conservation (AFC). AFC promotes the artwork of wildlife and landscape artists from around the world raising awareness and money for conservation. Looking to be able to teach art at the university level I applied for, and was accepted into the Hartford low residency MFA program in 2013. This program is run by some of the best illustrators in the nation. At the time I was there Murray Tinkelman was the director. He is a giant in the field of illustration. We also had such artists as Nancy Stahl, Daniel Pelavin, Chris Payne, Gary Kelley, Bill Thomson, Ted & Betsy Lewin,Dennis Nolan, Alice Carter, Doug Anderson and many others who are all brilliant artists. I graduated in July 2015. It's the kind of program where the students don't want it to end!
Now I am looking forward to illustrating more children's books, painting a lot more wildlife and passing on what I have learned to a younger generation!
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."