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Carl "Olduvai George" Buell interviewed

Fun interview with paleontological illustrator Carl Buell aka Olduvai George, in which he discusses Australopitecine boozing, the blending of science, imagination and guesswork in creating illustrations based on incomplete fossil material ( Since you can't rely on photographs, you need more than a passing knowledge of comparative anatomy. And learn to draw feet.), keeping up to date (If the American Museum can change an entire T-rex mount to reflect new, more accurate ideas of posture, I can (and will) change something when new information presents itself. That's how science works. Actually, Ambulocetus is an example of new fossil finds changing images.), Intelligent Design (I grew up with Bible literalists. When I asked questions about things that didn't make sense to me I was told I needed more faith, that I thought too much.) and American politics (I remember a couple of elections back reading the Republican platform for the 1948 Dewey Presidential campaign. Much of it seemed to the left of where the Democrats now are. So I guess I'm mostly a 1948 Republican.).

He also mentions that his job is "a 3rd graders dream job. I'm still amazed that I can draw or paint an animal and occasionally somebody actually sends me a check for it.".

Come to think of it, he is a pretty lucky bastard. I grew up with ZdeƱek Burian's paleontological illustrations, and those made me want to be a paleontologist for several years as a kid. I would trade with Buell in an instant. Not that he's quite as good to my eyes as Burian, but he's pretty darned good, judging from the samples in the interview. He lacks Burian's grandeur and painterly touch, but he is more polished and probably more current as he is working with contemporary information.

Olduvai George has a blog to check out, too. (Via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)


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