" My biography "
I was born on August 29, 1958 in Los Angeles and for the most part of my childhood lived in Carson California. I have an older sister (3 years older) and a younger brother (7 years younger) so I'm the middle child. I can't recall any one time, book, movie or painting that sparked my interest in Dinosaurs. My parents tell me it happened when I was two and hasn't stopped yet. I remember having dinosaur toys (mainly the Marx toys) and some others that I wish I didn't destroy when I was young. I must have gotten at least two of the big Marx boxes and a dozen or so of the smaller packages. I'd bring them all out and litter the floor with them. I remember bringing all my dinosaur books and comic books out into the front room and sitting down and looking at them all (can't do that now, too many books!!!). In school the teacher would ask me about dinosaurs and how to pronounce them (even today some of them are hard). In 4th grade I did a mural of the Triassic for my school room (I worked on it only after my school work was done). Colbert's Age of Reptiles book inspired me (and I still have the pastel mural someplace). My parents would get me the end rolls of newspaper and I would sprawl out on the floor and draw. Many animals life size including a life size Oar Fish!
We moved from Carson to Poway in 1970 after the 4th of July. We had our last big 4th of July where we were able to shoot off fireworks. My interest in Dinosaurs never waned. Though I did turn to Ocean life, birds, reptiles, and just about all things to do with animals (but not so much with mammals), Science Fiction, military vehicles, planes, ships, trucks, tractors, etc. In middle school one of the art projects was to make something out of paper mache'. I did a sawfish and when it was done it was about 7 feet long!!!
During High School my family went up to Los Angeles Natural History Museum and I picked up Romer's Vertebrate Paleontology (3rd edition) and that book became my paleo bible. I took it to school every day during my last few years in High School. There were so many animals that I never heard of in that book. My parents tried to enroll me into a program in Middle School and High School that would help me get into a collage program with paleontology, but the school kept pushing me toward Oceanography, so nothing ever came with that. My science teacher got upset with me because I kept drawing dinosaurs in his class and called my parents. They explained my interest and he was very understanding. So much so that I was one of his TA's in my senior year. All the Science teachers at Poway High were very understanding and fun.
After High School (1976 for all of those of you keeping track) I didn't now how to get information on dinosaurs and almost gave it up. I did take the bus down to the San Diego Library, and the San Diego Natural History Museum and their Library. Since San Diego didn't have many (only 1 composite hadrosaur and a ceratopian skull from Canada) my interest wasn't as it was before. When I was 18 I got a job at Sony where I was a assembly line worker for 3 years, a parts dispatcher for 5 years and a forklift/warehouse operator for 15 years. I did take classes at a local community college and received all my GE courses (I think). When I found out that I needed to take calculus I thought that was enough for me because I wasn't that good in higher math. I also took a few courses in art but I didn't learn what I really wanted to learn and that was shading, they taught what they wanted to. I did learn a lot but not enough for my tastes, so that is all the art classes I've ever taken, the rest is self taught.
In 1978 my parents and I went back to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and I found George Olshevsky's book, The Archosaurian Taxa (excluding the Crocodylia: Mesozoic Meanderings n. 1, 50pp.). On a fluke I wrote to him. He was in Toronto and that book had an incredible amount of Dinosaur names which I never have heard of. A few months before that I picked up a children's book on Dinosaurs and they had a painting of Compsognathus corallestris (a small theropod with flippers) and I asked him about that strange and new animal. I hadn't heard from George until months latter when it turned out he was then living in San Diego. He basically told me that he didn't have time to go to libraries to get information and that he had complied the names himself from his limited (though more than mine at the time) research. I wrote to him and said that I would go to the libraries for both of us and copy the articles. I'd collect the articles for a month and would go and deliver them to him. After a few years of this we became good friends and he asked if I'd like to go to the 1984 meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology ( SVP) that was held at the University of California in Berkeley. He sponsored me and introduced me to his paleontologist friends (Jack Horner, Phil Currie, Ralph Molnar, etc). In 1986 George and I went to the Dinosaur Systematic symposium in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. We staid the night with Darren Tanke and his wife in Calgary. I've written to Darren years before, but this was the first time we've ever met. In fact, during our first letter writing he didn't know if I was a male or a female (still happens a lot today : ) ). The next day we went to the Royal Tyrrell Museum for the Symposium. I must say, that was the best symposium I've ever been to! I met all the paleontologist that were attending and had made many contacts. It was amazing.
Darren Tanke wrote to me and told me about his discovery at Grand Prairie (just west of Edmonton, Alberta) on a new type of Pachyrhinosaur Ceratopian. From his description I made a quick drawing. He liked it and told me what I needed to correct. Darren is one of the first people to help me with my dinosaur art and one drawing was published Canadian newspapers ( Darren says it's one of my best drawings).
George told me that he was planning on publishing a newsletter on Dinosaurs titled Archosaurian Articulations. I told George that I was an artist.. I brought some work over (in pencil which was my medium at the time). He told me he needed pen and ink. I said ok, I'll do that. And through his publication, his comments on my work and comments from others, I was able to improve (as for George, his is a good artist also and I have copies of some of his work). Years later he said that he was going to write a book for the Dinosaur Society and that he asked if I could draw all the obscure dinosaurs and illustrate their skeletal elements. That was my big break (or so I had hoped) into the art of Dinosaurs. I won't go into the problems of the book, but things happened where George could no longer be part of the book and Don Lessem and Don Glut became the authors. I was suppose to draw at least 500 drawings, but the format of the book changed and they only needed about 130. I did draw 530 different dinosaurs. Many of which I am quite proud of and many I'd re-illustrate.
Since then George has written several articles and I've supplied the pen and ink illustrations (for his publications as well as Dinosaur Front line and DinoPress, both a Japanese published magazine). My drawings have appeared in several books and articles (see my resume for the list), but not as much as I'd like to. There are several books that have been published that I could have supplied with much better illustrations. Anyway I digress.
During my time with the SVP I had grown more and more uneasy with my (at the time) inability to help support paleontology in some small way. I've collected an incredibly huge personal library, have many paleontologist whom I can call friends, have supplied many paleontologist with copies of articles and vice a versa, but still I felt a lacking in paleontology. When flying home from the 1988 Dinosaur Palaeobiology Symposium (held by the Museum of Rockies in Bozeman Montana) I felt that I had to do something, anything; start writing, studying dinosaurs, something. So there was a spark that would get kindled for serious paleologic work.
Several palaeontologist over the years had told me that I needed to start writing papers; Jim Kirkland, Ken Carpenter, Darren Tanke, Phil Currie, to name a few, but what could I do. I had a full time job, and had very little access to actual specimens. Almost every year I'd take a summer vacation and visit museums, libraries, sites, etc for two weeks. I've traveled the length and breath of the USA and Southern Canada.
In 1996, at the 2nd Dinofest in Arizona I met Mike Fredricks. He self publishes Prehistoric Times. At the banquet I sat at a table with Ned Colbert and his wife. His son came by but the table was full. I graciously gave him my chair. Ned said I didn't have to, I just told him, 'No problem, I just go bug Bakker'. Ned laughed (I write this in his memory), I then sat with Mike Fredricks. I thought about doing an article on How to Draw Dinosaurs for his magazine and asked if he'd like me to do so, he was all for it and have been doing so ever since. I'm eternally grateful for him an his editorial work on my articles (which I hope have gotten better). That was a good start for me and I have since published two volumes of my articles in Prehistoric Times and Dinosaur World (another self published issue by Alan DeBuse). Still, that wasn't enough. I had visited Mesa Southwest Museum in 1996 for their annual symposium, I decided that that would be a good place for me to start giving talks. The next year I gave a talk on why I don't think theropods had lips, and I've been giving a talk there ever since and hope to keep it up (thanks to Robert McCord and Deb Boaz)..
During 1997 (I think it was) Jim Kirkland visited San Diego to give a talk at the San Diego Natural History Museum. I had just changed departments at work and my new work schedule allowed me to have Thursday, Friday, Saturday and every other Sunday off, so I had time to really work on things. Jim encouraged me to work on the then San Diego nodosaur. We are co-authors on a paper that was published in 2001 where we name the new ankylosaurid (See the section on The Dinosaurs I've named, the whys and wherefores). I gave a talk on the ankylosaurid at the 3rd Dinofest held in Philadelphia (1999) and gave a second talk on why Theropods don't have lips.
2015 I gave an updated poster on why I believe theropods lacked lips. I also have published a compulation of my How to Draw Dinosaurs, volume 1, a 2104 Dinosaur skull a Day Calendar, and two generic Dinosaur Skull a Day Calendars in late 2015.
1999 my friend (Jerry Alvarado) and I started to frame originals and prints of my artwork to sell. Also in 1999 I self published my first volume of How to Draw Dinosaurs.
2001 I published my second How to Draw Dinosaurs. Stated to sell T-shirts, mugs and night lights with my work on them.
2001 I had my first posters at the SVP, one on sauropod osteroderms and a paper co-authored with Dan Chure on the Ghost lineages of Tyrannosaurids and have another paper co-authored with him on Baja tyrannosaurids.
2001 set up this web site.
2005, late February set my subscription website http://www.paleofile.com
2010, I made my subscription website a free website http://www.paleofile.com
2016, My first novel was published, Dinosaur Isle.
I've since given several talks, written several 'real' paleontology papers (see my resume), am working on several new projects, both in art and 'real' paleontology and am waiting and working for it to pay off for me.