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1 9 9 0 s: D I N O S A U R S  R E D E F I N E D

Henderson, Hallett, Paul and others were acknowledged by author Michael Crichton in his 1990 novel 'Jurassic Park'. Shortly after Hollywood called and the same artists were supplying the special effects studio with concept art and anatomical drawings, the first time that paleoartists ever received credit on screen in a major film as dinosaur specialists. The movie became one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, spawning sequels of course, and reigniting a dinosaur fever not seen since the 1950s. The term 'Raptor' became a household name and part of movie villain history. Spielberg and Stan Winston Studios were criticized for making Velociraptor larger than its real-life counterparts, forgiven in part when the claw of Utahraptor was found during production.

Two four hour documentaries were produced just before 'Jurassic Park'.  Possibly the worst series ever made on the subject was A & E/BBC's 'Dinosaur!' with Walter Cronkite, marred by spectacularly awful puppets based on John Sibbick art. PBS's 'The Dinosaurs!' fared better using animation, resembling colored Bakker drawings in motion. Paleoart was critical to the four season 'PaleoWorld' series on the Learning Channel. New paleoartists were something of a cottage industry by the mid 1990s. It was increasingly difficult to keep track of new names whose work was being published in the multitude of new books, and artists, both 2D and 3D, striving to make their work memorable, were competing against each other and against the veterans Hallett, Henderson and Paul. But now, with magazines like Prehistoric Times, and National Geographic's new resolve to covering dino news, there were new opportunities for the unknown artist to become the next millenia's Charles Knight.

There were at least 60 recognized paleontologists in the world, tripled since the 1970s. With the increased manpower, new species were steadily being discovered every two weeks. Argentinosaurus and other species stole largest dinosaur titles. After naming the world's oldest dinosaur, Paul Sereno started several African expeditions made the most news (even garnering him a place in People magazine's Sexiest People list!) In 1995, Giganotosaurus made news for being a theropod larger than T rex.

Kids were crazy about an anthropomorphic purple t rex named Barney, the Sinclair family were seen on primetime sitcom 'Dinosaurs', and Dinosaur Marathons were common on Discovery Channel. The 1990s introduced prehistoric mascots to major sports teams (Colorado Rockies' Triceratops mascot, Toronto Raptors in 1995, Nashville Predators in 1998 represented by a saber tooth cat).

Brian Franczak

 
 
In the early 1990s, more non-paleontologists with fantasy/comic book backgrounds emerged like Brian Franczak, who contributed paintings of poorly known species (i.e. Rhabdodon, Stygimiloch, Telmatosaurus, Nanotyrannus, etc.) and rather pedestrian profiles of familiar species (as in Audubon's Field Guide to Familiar Dinosaurs). One piece could be of the first Mesozoic forest fire (but the fire is only half-convincing). By the end of the decade, Franczak dropped out of the business. Not sure if it's any consolation but Brian's color scheme lives on on at least two very collectible figures produced in the 1990s by Boston Museum of Science.

Wayne D. Barlowe

Wayne Barlowe lent a surrealistic atmosphere to his paleoart, possibly unavoidable due to his commercial fantasy art background. Barlowe produced some of the most artistic and accurate work of the decade (resting ceratosaurs, resting Velociraptor, Oviraptor, Triceratops/Tyrannosaurus). While no longer an active paleoartist, An Alphabet of Dinosaurs is a good overview of his short-lived contributions.

 

 

 

 

James Gurney

James Gurney was a former National Geographic illustrator before he authored Dinotopia, a successful series of fantasy books where people exist in peace with the extinct animals. He was hired by the United States Postal Service to design dinosaur postage stamps in 1996. If Norman Rockwell were alive and painting dinosaurs, it's a good bet they'd look like James Gurney's.



Michael Skrepnick

Michael Skrepnick is a Canadian painter working for the Royal Tyrrell Museum. His acrylic work was so indistinguishable from Franczak's (despite better composition, more realism and drama) that the two artists were thought to be the same individual by contributors on the online Dinosaur Mailing List. Paul Sereno has said "no one paints skies or body patterns like Skepnick". One only has to look at earlier work by Franczak, Gurche, Paul, and even Sibbick to see Sereno's actually wrong about that comment.

 

Luis V. Rey

The most remarkable paleoartist to surface in the 1990s was U.K.-based artist and amateur paleontologist Luis Rey, whose highly detailed acrylic work may remind viewers of Barlowe's. Rey's trademark elements are: Heads of predaceous species are often the foreground, charging towards you with jaws agape (Suchomimus, Deinocheirus, Ornithocheirus) and individuals gruesomely attacking each other (Tyrannosaurus vs. Anatotitan). Even when they are not of a violent scene, Rey's work is undeniably eye-catching: the colors are lurid and bright suggesting exotic, tropical reptile skin, or boldly patterned (zebra-inspired Therizinosaurus) and his creatures are monstrously presented with iguana-like spines and bird wattles and dewlaps (Carnotaurus). He served as an advisor on BBC's Walking With Dinosaurs in the late 1990s, possibly the most famous dinosaur documentary ever. At least one toymaker Safari Ltd. has created dinosaurs based off his art (pterosaurs, brooding Oviraptor, seen below).

Michael Trcic

Time to honor the man who, so far, has done Tyrannosaurus rex the most cinematic justice in Jurassic Park. As sculptor of rex's head for Stan Winston Studios (who pretty much ruined the rest of the dinosaurs in the film in one way or another), Mike went on to launch a successful paleoart business of high quality but relatively unaffordable resins and bronzes and lower priced resin kits.

 

 

 
  Tony McVey
  
 
Along with Trcic, some of the best bronzes came from Tony McVey, a British sculptor, known from his work with the British Museum on their mammals. His studio Menagerie Productions churned out excellent sculptures that were rather expensive as well like this Stegosaurus priced at a few thousand.

 

 Charlie McGrady

  CM Studios is still going strong providing fullsize and smaller maquettes for everyone from museums to the paleoart collector.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 Mauricio Anton

 

Mauricio Anton from Spain mainly paints fossil mammals in a style reminiscent and strongly influenced by the great Smithsonian muralist Jay Matternes. In other words, it's AMAZINGLY good. However, with that high of a standard he has set, Anton's dinosaurs do not stack up against his mammals in terms of quality or resonance, or other dinosaur specialists for that matter. Check out the book Big Cats and Their Fossil Relatives if you can. Perhaps his heart is mostly in the Paleogene/Cenozoic.

 Hall Train Studio

 Hall Train had actually been creating dinosaurs since the 1980s. The studio created effects for Discovery Channel's Ultimate Guide to T Rex among others, and full size models for museums like Maryland Science Center.

 

Larry Felder

Larry Felder appealed to the fans of the early 20th century dinosaur art. Color selection is unique and occasionally photorealistic, with the habit of rounding off jawlines in a most mammalian fashion. In the Presence of Dinosaurs (2000) is a good place to check out Felder dinosaurs.

  Gregory Wenzel/Dan LoRusso

  Greg Wenzel and Dan LoRusso were the first sculptors hired by a major toy maker (Battat) to try to create dinosaur figures that were as accurate as allowed. Their Battat/Boston Museum of Science figures were promising but discontinued after just four years. No company - not Safari, not Bullyland, not Schleich - has matched the line since.
Additionally, the duo's Dinosaur Studio offered resin and bronze models throughout the decade.

 

 

 
 Kokoro Studios

Kokoro's robotic dinosaurs blew away Dinamation's dreadful creations. Jack Horner was their longtime advisor but the anatomy data for the robots came from the best of the paleoartists.

 

 

 

 

  Robert F. Walters

Robert F. Walters almost didn't make it here. He actually appeared in the 1980s but didn't receive much notice until 1990s when he began to use more accurate anatomical data. His work is detailed but not realistic. Conventional but not innovative. Not especially dramatic, painterly or well-composed. So what good can I say about his work? While no Walters piece ever seems memorable they are still colorful and distinctive in a comic book style ink with watercolor. They'd make great coloring book images too. (And he seems to get work regardless.) Bob has claimed to not source others images and do his own research but here's one exception he may have thought would go unnoticed on the cover of this kids book.
That's right! It's the old reverse and slight modify of Greg Paul's big plate Stegosaurus.

 DISHONORABLE MENTIONS

  Dave Marrs

Not sure what to make of Marrs, as he has disappeared off the earth.  He should be called out by someone (me) on tracing Steve Czerkas' famous Allosaurus sculpture and Greg Paul's T rex and Dromiceiomimus images (from Paul's Predatory Dinosaurs of the World). Or the Ron Seguin sculpture of Stenonychosaurus above or Gurche's iguanodont attached by deinonychids. There's a whole lot more Marrs wanted to take credit for.  Looks like he just traced  images and then threw any background in there. These can be seen in the 1996-97 PaleoWorld program episodes and in his own products (trading cards and coloring book).