After 30 years of service, I have decided to step away from my work at the American Museum of Natural History at the end of the month. It's been a good run.
Over the years I've had to opportunity to hone my skills, studying and rendering ancient bones in the service of science. I have been able to travel to strange landscapes and search for fossils weathering out of prehistoric sea beds. One specimen that I found and carefully dug out of sandstone walls in Wyoming turned out to be the most complete skeleton of a primate called Notharctus. He later became one of the species that was included in Jay Matternes's beautiful primate evolution mural at AMNH. Elsewhere in the museum, casts of the fellow hang in the Hall of Fossil Mammals. My painting of the Triassic turtle Proganochelys and its environment hangs in the Hall of Early Vertebrates. And I even got a fossil turtle named after me - Taphrosphys ippolitoi. better still, I have been able to work with some great people along the way - not to mention all the friends and colleagues I've met through GNSI. And I had the opportunity to mentor almost three dozen illustration interns - many of them continuing on to rich careers of their own. Great opportunities all!
Fellow scientific illustrators will recognize that somewhere in that mix was 30 years of focused study and drawing. Sometimes exciting; sometimes boring; always challenging. (whew!)
It was my work at AMNH that allowed me to branch out into the more general scientific illustration. I really enjoy the problem-solving challenges that this field engages me with. (How DOES one take a complex idea and distill it down into a compelling, easy to read image?) It is this area I will continue to work as a freelancer on select projects. I will also continue to teach at FDU and perhaps other venues.
Anyone who knows me well knows full well that I am not walking away from work; I am walking towards it. I've already begun renting a painting studio at the new Merseles studio center in downtown Jersey City. This summer I will (finally!) be releasing my CD, Sawdust and the Mud - with supporting live performances, both solo and with a full band. At the same time I've been digging deeper and deeper into what I call time-based imagery - that place where painting, illustration, filmmaking, and special effects collide. I can't tell you what kind of work will emerge from this effort (well actually, a music video is in progress) but it won't be boring!
It HAS been a good run. It's time to get busy!
PS I'm not certain if my email at amnh.org will have its plug pulled instantly or after a time. so if anyone had time-sensitive issues, be sure to use my [log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask] mailbox.