Julius Csotonyi

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I’m a native Hungarian, but my family made Canada our home in 1978. Since then I've lived mostly in rural and urban Alberta before moving to Winnipeg, Manitoba. I've been drawing dinosaurs all my life. I rolled out my first 'dinosaur' (a rooster) at the age of three. Nearly 30 years later, dinosaurs make up the majority of my portfolio. Dinosaurs are members of a world that is alien to us, and my fascination with the unexplored and unknown led me to both my interest in illustrating dinosaurs and my current career path in science.

My academic history is eclectic. After a short stint in undergraduate physics, I realized that biology was my mainstay and I completed a BSc in Ecology and Environmental Biology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. I followed this degree with a MSc in Ecology at the same institution. I've studied and published research papers on pollination mutualisms in Utah and the effects of trampling on moss in Jasper National Park in Alberta. Now, during my PhD at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, I study bacteria that thrive in exotic deep ocean hydrothermal vent ecosystems and in terrestrial salt springs. It's been very rewarding to participate in National Geographic-type deep ocean cruises in which scientists send remote-controlled submarines to the bottom of the ocean, a mile or more below our feet to collect samples and snap eerie photos.

While my studies do not encompass dinosaurs per se, my biological background is a useful resource on which I draw when bringing long extinct ecosystems back to life with the brush, pen and pencil. I have taken little formal training in art, consisting of one university level introductory course. I am about as self-taught an artist as they come. However, I am a quick learner and a patient person, and I think that this combination of traits is responsible for much of my current skill.

I became interested in drawing dinosaurs as a kid, as do many kids. I think that a fine Diplodocus that my mother drew for me when I was about 6 or 7 really inspired me to start perfecting my own skill. I never grew out of my ‘dinophile’ phase. I collected a small library of books on dinosaurs, which is still growing by leaps and bounds. My most treasured volumes featured the captivating work of paleo art masters such as John Sibbick, Gregory Paul and Mark Hallett. Magnificent restorations by these individuals were instrumental in my artistic development, and their influence on my style is evident. I am also very excited to see the plethora of talented artists that are making their way into the limelight these days, including Portia Sloan, Raul Martin, Frederik Spindler, Melissa Frankford and Fabio Pastori, to name but a scant few.

I began to draw and paint dinosaurs more seriously in 1998, when I became involved with a gallery in Edmonton and with a local business-sponsored event called the "Whyte Avenue Art Walk", in which artists display their wares along a stretch of sidewalk during hot July weekends. Shortly thereafter, I began submitting images to Prehistoric Times magazine, then launched my first website and also submitted work to other online galleries such as "The Dinosauricon" and "Prehistorics Illustrated". After I began my PhD in 2002, artwork initially ground to a halt due to the rigors of study and research. My website also fell into disrepair and faded out of existence. It was at the end of 2004 and beginning of 2005 that unusual opportunities arose. Anness Publishing in England contacted me with a request to contribute illustrations to a book by dinosaur writer Dougal Dixon. They'd encountered my art on the "Prehistorics Illustrated" website. I’m also very thankful to Mike Fredericks, editor of Prehistoric Times for putting me in touch with representatives from Scholastic Inc and for hosting an interview with me for the 76th issue (Feb/March 2006) of Prehistoric Times. These parallel and, serendipitously, nearly simultaneous contacts have catalyzed my quick rise into the limelight of dinosaur illustration, a rise which I hope is only beginning. I have now secured a contract with the Canadian Museum of Nature for ink illustrations for their online "Natural History Notebooks" and have contributed to over 13 books and an educational DVD within the last 12 months, encompassing both dinosaurs and extant animals. I cannot keep up with all the requests for artwork that I have received recently, and whereas illustration had begun as a side dish to my research career, it is quickly becoming the entree itself.

This has been a rewarding initial year as I have had the fortune to work with dinosaur experts to hone my accuracy. I am a very self-critical artist and am highly motivated by challenges. While I have volumes yet to learn and improve, my goal is truly nothing less than to distinguish myself as one of the top dinosaur illustrators in the world. I hope that circumstances will allow me to share my work with the world.

Note: The following images are under copyright, by the artist. Any reproduction without written permission of the owner is strictly prohibited. All Rights Reserved.

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Tyrannosaurus rex Tyrannosaurus rex Spinosaurus aegypticus
Tyrannosaurus rex | Tryrannosaurus rex | Spinosaurus aegypticus

Gorgosaurus libratus Spinosaurus aegypticus (left) Aegyptosaurus bahafijensis (middle) Acrocanthosaurus
Gorgosaurus libratus | Spinosaurus aegypticus (left) Aegyptosaurus bahafijensis (middle)
Carcharodontosaurus saharicus (right) | Acrocanthosaurus

Dimorphodon Velociraptor Tyrannosaurus rex
Dimorphodon | Velociraptor | Tyrannosaurus rex

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