The Paleontology of Chris Wildrick Is Overrated: Artist Interviews, 2007-present, exhibited at the Museum of the Earth, Ithaca, NY, 2010

As part of his project to study dinosaur aesthetics, or why we think dinosaurs looked the way we think they looked, Chris is interviewing some of the people most involved in creating our perceptions of dinosaurs: the artists who draw, paint, design, model, illustrate, animate, and otherwise create images of dinosaurs.

These interviews take place over the phone and by email. The phone interviews, which are recorded, will all eventually be transcribed (when Chris gets a year or two of free time) so that they will be available in both audio and text versions, but are now only available as audio files. Interviews vary in length and topic, based on how much time the artists were able to spare from their very busy schedules, their particular areas of expertise, recent projects of interest, etc.

When possible, Chris has added a link to the artists' own personal website as well.

Chris is intentionally interviewing a wide variety of artists, from amateur to professional, including childrens' book illustrators, professional paleo-artists who work with journals and museums, and scientists whose artistic abilities have come in handy in their line of work.

Chris would like to thank all these artists for participating in this project. They have all been extremely kind with their time and thoughts, which reflect just how much consideration and effort goes into their works.

The artists:

Richard Kissel, paleontologist and Director of Teacher Programs at the Museum of the Earth. He is co-author of the book The Evolving Planet, and is no stranger to the world of drawing. For this interview, we discussed his activity at the recent Dinosaur Train event at the Museum of the Earth, where he is the Director of Teacher Programs. That day, he ran a booth where he would draw a free dinosaur cartoon for anyone who asked. It was also a great opportunity for the visitors to talk directly to a paleontologist while he made their drawings. Phone interview. (This is a half-hour conversation, so it's about 16 MB.) His profile at the Museum of the Earth is here:

Gail Gibbons, author and illustrator of more than 135 fascinating non-fiction books on every subject in the world. She has written two dinosaur books, Dinosaurs! and Dinosaur Discoveries. Phone interview. (This is a half-hour conversation so it is about 16 MB.) Gail Gibbons' personal website:

Aliki Brandenberg, author and/or illustrator of at least 100 non-fiction books on a similarly-large range of subjects. She has written at least four incredible dinosaur books: Fossils Tell of Long Ago, Dinosaurs are Different, Dinosaur Bones, and Digging up Dinosaurs. Phone interview. (This is a half-hour conversation so it is about 14 MB.)

John W. Merck, Jr. collaborated in the creation of the digital skeletal illustrations in The Mistaken Extinction: Dinosaur Evolution and the Origin of Birds, and also worked on the accompanying CD-ROM, The Age of Dinosaurs. Merck is a paleontologist and is now the associate director of the Earth, Life, and Time program of College Park Scholars at the University of Maryland, College Park. Phone interview. (This is a half-hour conversation so it is about 16 MB.) John Merck, Jr.'s university website:

Michael Emberley, celebrated children's book artist and writer, creator of the how-to-draw Dinosaurs! and More Dinosaurs! books. Phone interview. (This is an hour-long conversation, so it is about 27 MB). Michael Emberley's personal website:

Matthew Reinhart, renowned pop-up book artist, creator of Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs with Michael Sabuda. Phone interview. (This is a half-hour conversation, so it is about 14 MB.) Matthew Reinhart's personal site:

James Gurney, Hugo-winner and creator of the Dinotopia series. Email interview. James Gurney's personal sites:, You can hear this being read out loud by a computer voice generator at Redhouse Art Radio:

John Sibbick, acclaimed paleo-artist who has worked with National Geographic, the BBC, and the National History Museum in London, as well as being the illustrator on many books such as The Illustrated Book of Dinosaurs and The Evolution and Extinction of Dinosaurs. Email interview. John Sibbick's personal site: You can hear this being read out loud by a computer voice generator at Redhouse Art Radio:

Jeff Ballinger was my very first test interview, in a proto version of this project in 2005. He was a BFA student in design at SIUC and he showed a series of paleo-art drawings as his thesis exhibition. The field of paleo-art has a very wide range of practictioners, from hobbyists to highly engaged and skilled amateurs to professionals. While Jeff may not yet have achieved the level of repute of some of the other interviewees in this series, I think his thoughts nicely illustrate the diversity of points of view that can be found in this field. Live interview. (Approximately 10 minutes and 5 MB.)

Other documentation:

The audio files for these projects were installed on an iPod with headphones at the Museum of the Earth, along with the audio for Time Trials, so that museum visitors could listen to them. You can download the PDF of the poster that describes these two projects in greater detail:


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