Key Findings

Distilling our results to a few meaningful facts, we give a bird’s-eye-view of the paleoart community.

Who are paleoartists?

Paleoart is an overwhelmingly young and male field. This year's increased sample size lessened that disparity only a little.

Age of Respondents

18 or under: 20% in 2019. 22% in 2017. 18-35:  61% in 2019. 54% in 2017. 35-49: 13% in 2019. 16% in 2017. 49-65: 5% in 2019. 6% in 2017. 65 or older: 1% in 2019 and 2017

Gender Identity of Respondents

Female: 25% in 2019. 24% in 2017. Male: 65% in 2019. 71% in 2017. Nonbinary: 8% in 2019. 5% in 2017. Self-described: 1% in 2019.

84% of respondents had been producing paleoart intended for public consumption for fewer than 10 years. Over half hold neither an art nor a science degree, according to a new question for 2019.

How long have you been producing paleoart for public consumption?

2 years or fewer: 36% in 2019. 33% in 2017. 2-5 years: 29% in 2019. 30% in 2017. 5-10 years: 18% in 2019. 16% in 2017. 10-20 years: 11% in 2019. 12% in 2017. 20 years or more: 5% in 2019. 8% in 2017.

Do you have formal education in art or science?

I have earned an art degree: 22%. I have earned a science degree: 19%. I have both: 5%. I have neither: 54%.

Respondents mostly lived in English-speaking countries of the global West. This is undoubtedly a result of who made the survey and how it was distributed. For a full accounting of reported countries, please see Appendix D.

Where do you live?

North America: 57% in 2019. 60% in 2017. Europe: 28% in 2019. 29% in 2017. Asia: 3% in 2019 and 201.  Australia and Oceania: 6% in 2019. 5% in 2017. Central & South America: 5% in 2019. 3% in 2017. Africa: .3% in 2019. .6% in 2017.

Only 35% of respondents expected paleoart to be an income source at all, while 89% reported that their primary goal was to create paleoart as a hobby or for fun. It wasn’t surprising, therefore, to see that 69% of respondents reported that they made no money from their paleoart. The 31% of respondents who do make money from paleoart add up to 184. We are calling this the professional subset of respondents; this group only increased by 27% over the first survey, compared to the 85% increase in overall sample size.

What are your main goals in creating paleoart?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers.

Hobby/ for fun: 88% in 2019.  To educate the public: 55% in 2019. As a revenue stream contributing to income: 26% in 2019.Primary, sustaining income source: 9% in 2019. Other: 7% in 2019.

Do you make money from paleoart?

Yes: 31%. No: 69%.

How much do they make?

Of the professional subset, the average 2018 income strictly from paleoart is $4,628, with a grand total of paleoart earnings of $846,192 across the entire subset.

When we narrow the results down to paleoart income that amounts to a living wage, we are dealing with a very small group: only 6 respondents reported paleoart income over $30,000. The average overall gross income of professional paleoartists (so, not limited to only what they made with paleoart) is about $26,000. All currencies were converted to USD for this comparison.

How much did you make from paleoart alone in 2018?

$0: 11% in 2019. 17% in 2017. Between $1 and $1000: 49% in 2019. 41% in 2017. Between $1000 and $5000: 20% in 2019. 23% in 2017. Between $5000 and $10000: 7% in 2019 and 2017. Between $10000 and $20000: 7%. 6% in 2017. Between $20000 and $30000: 2% in 2019 and 2017. Between $30000 and $40000: 2% in 2019 and 2017. Between $40000 and $50000: 1% in 2019. Between $50000 and $100000: 1% in 2019 and 2017.

In the following earnings summaries, the 2019 numbers are dark blue, compared to the smaller light blue numbers from the 2017 survey.

2018 Paleoart Earnings Summary

Total across all (183) respondents: $846,912 in 2019. $594,413 in 2017. Average paleoart income: $4,628 in 2019. $4,503 in 2017. Median paleoart income: $4,602 in 2019. $1,000 in 2017.

2018 Overall Earnings Summary

Total across all (179) respondents: $4,674,765 in 2019. $2,964,666 in 2017. Average income: $26,116 in 2019. $22,460 in 2017. Median income: $12,000 in 2019. $17,025 in 2017.

60% of the professional subset reported that their paleoart earnings were holding steady or rising compared to previous years.

How did your paleoart earnings in 2018 compare to previous years?

Trending upward: 39% in 2019. 37% in 2017. About the same: 21% in 2019. 17% in 2017. Trending downward: 13% in 2019. 12% in 2017. Varies too greatly: 27% in 2019. 34% in 2017.
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The Practice of Paleoart

All respondents had the opportunity to answer questions about how they go about creating paleoart. In this section, we’ll reveal what we learned about how paleoartists work.

Media and Subject Matter

Once again, 2D media far outpaced other media. The number of respondents working in traditional 2D doubled all other non-2D forms. Since most artists likely use some form of sketching at some point of their process, it makes sense for it to be so widely used. While most respondents reported that they were generalists, a healthy portion of them also had specializations.

In what media do you work?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers.

2-D (traditional): 90% in 2019. 84% in 2017. 2-D (digital): 70% in 2019. 62% in 2017. 3-D (traditional): 18% in 2019. 20% in 2017. 3-D (digital): 12% in 2019. 15% in 2017. Multimedia/Interactive: 6% in 2019. 8% in 2017. Animation: 9% in 2019 and 2017.

Do you specialize in any paleoart subject matter?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers. For a detailed breakdown of specializations, please see Appendix A.

Prehistoric life in general: 74% in 2019. 75% in 2017. Specialize in a particular fauna or era: 36% in 2019. 38% in 2017.

As in the last survey, the core of paleoartist's practice is restoring the life appearance of organisms and depicting their habitats. The largest drops here were in full habitat reconstructions and murals.

What kind of work do you do?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers.

Life reconstructions/restorations: 92% in 2019. 91% in 2017. Full scenes/habitat reconstructions: 53% in 2019. 60% in 2017. Skeletal reconstructions/anatomical drawings: 31% in 2019. 32% in 2017. Diagrams/infographics: 21% in 2019. 27% in 2017. Specimen drawings of fossils: 27% in 2019. 26% in 2017. Murals: 8% in 2019. 12% in 2017.

Research methods

In a new question, we asked whether respondents could access the scientific literature. It was nearly a 50/50 split. Concerning research methods, most options dropped to some degree, with only two methods actually gaining: consulting secondary sources like blog posts and popular articles and studying existing paleoart.

Are you able to access the technical literature (i.e. paywalled journals)?

Yes: 51%. No: 49%.

How do you conduct research?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers.

Primary sources (scientific literature): 75% in 2019. 89% in 2017. Secondary sources (blog posts, news articles): 82% in 2019. 81% in 2017. Studies of existing paleoart: 79% in 2019. 76% in 2017. Comparative anatomy studies: 65% in 2019. 68% in 2017. Observations of mounted fossils: 64% in 2019. 65% in 2017. Consultation with paleontologists: 36% in 2019. 45% in 2017. Direct access to fossils: 22% in 2019. 26% in 2017. Other: 5% in 2019. 9% in 2017.

Note: Most of the "other" answers actually could be referred to the secondary sources. It's worth clarifying that "comparative anatomy studies" is also intended to include studies of extant animals, as a few "other" answers indicated this. It may be worth giving it its own option.


16% of respondents reported that they are members of professional organizations relevant to paleoart, which could include groups dedicated to creative or scientific professionals. Once again, the only two organizations reaching double-digit numbers of respondents were the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. It may be useful in future surveys to ask specifically about dues-paying organizations. For a full accounting of responses, please see Appendix C.

Are you a member of any professional organization related to art or science?

Yes: 16% in 2019. 19% in 2017. No: 83.80%  in 2019. 81% in 2017.
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The Patrons of Paleoart

As reported in Key Findings, 184 respondents answered that they make money from paleoart. This section will deal with this professional subset, revealing who their clients are and how they interact with them. It's worth restating that even though we increased our total number of respondents by 298, the professional subset only increased by 40.

Clientele and funding

The largest categories of clients are private commissions and museums, but the paleoart client base is composed of a broad range of industries. A new question added this year was whether paleoartists knew where their clients obtained funding. 71% didn't know.

Who are your clients?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers.

Private Commissions: 68% in 2019 and 2017. Museums: 49% in 2019. 55% in 2017. Independent Researchers: 38% in 2019. 39% in 2017. Academic Institutions: 31% in 2019. 38% in 2017. Publishing Companies: 26% in 2019. 31% in 2017. Government Institutions: 15% in 2019. 22% in 2017. Video/Film/TV production: 14% in 2019. 19%  in 2017. Visitor Attractions/Theme Parks: 9% in 2019. 16%  in 2017. Video game industry: 10% in 2019. 13% in 2017. Toy Manufacturers: 4% in 2019. 3% in 2017. Other: 15% in 2019. 13% in 2017.

How do your clients obtain funding to pay you?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers.

Don’t know: 71%. Personal funds: 11% in 2019. Grants: 7%. Exhibit/Museum funds: 5%. Project budgets: 5%. Research/University funds: 4%. Publishing/Commercial: 4%. Government: 5%. Private donor: 3%. PR/Outreach funds: 2% Other: 4%.

Most respondents report that their clients return for repeat business. As might be expected with modern technology, a paleoartist likely works with clients from all over the world. Even professionals produce a lot of work for themselves, with only 28% saying they primarily produce commissioned work. Over 80% of paleoartists completed 10 or fewer commissions during 2018, and a significant percentage of those report that that number is higher than previous years.

Do you have repeat clients?

Often: 30% in 2019. 29% in 2017. Sometimes: 58% in 2019. 61% in 2017. Never: 12% in 2019. 10% in 2017.

Are your clients local or international?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers.

International: 65% in 2019. 74% in 2017. Local: 71% in 2019. 66% in 2017.

Do you mostly work for personal pleasure or for clients?

Mostly commissioned: 28% in 2019. 24% in 2017. Mostly personal: 45% in 2019. 43% in 2017. About the same: 27% in 2019. 33% in 2017.

How many paleoart commissions did you complete in 2018?

None: 14% in 2019. 15% in 2017. Fewer than 5: 43% in 2019. 44% in 2017. 5-10: 25% in 2019 and 2017. 10-20: 11% in 2019. 6% in 2017. Over 20: 8% in 2019. 10% in 2017.

How does your number of paleoart commissions from 2018 compare to previous years?

Trending upward: 42% in 2019 and 2017. About the same: 21% in 2019. 15% in 2017. Trending downward: 13% in 2019. 15% in 2017. Varies too greatly from year to year: 25% in 2019. 28% in 2017.

How do paleoartists charge?

By and large, paleoartists charge by flat rates. It is very common to work for free, however: 47% do it often or sometimes. Nearly three-quarters of respondents reported feeling pressure to lower rates or work for free, but these numbers dropped a bit from the first survey.

How do you prefer to charge your clients?

Flat rate (per artwork or project): 75% in 2019. 78% in 2017. Hourly: 17% in 2019. 13% in 2017. Royalties: 2% in 2019. 3% in 2017. Other: 7% in 2019. 10% in 2017.

Do you ever provide your paleoart services for free?

Often: 3% in 2019. 5% in 2017. Sometimes: 44% in 2019. 53% in 2017. Never: 53% in 2019. 42% in 2017.

Do you ever feel pressure form clients to work for free?

Often: 22% in 2019. 25% in 2017. Sometimes: 43% in 2019 47% in 2017. Never: 36% in 2019. 28% in 2017.

Most paleoartists use contracts, though they aren’t strict about it every time, implying that many of these client relationships have a casual quality.

After acceptance of a commission, do you provide the client with a formal contract?

Always: 19% in 2019. 20% in 2017. Sometimes/Depends on the client: 61% in 2019 and 2017. Never: 20% in 2019. 19% in 2017.

When licensing images, do you provide the customer with a formal contract?

Yes: 55% in 2019. 63% in 2017. No: 45% in 2019. 37% in 2017.

Staying true to the science

Not all clients count scientific rigor as a primary concern. 37% of respondents reported that they’ve been asked to produce paleoart they know to be outdated or inaccurate, which is a significant 12% drop from the previous survey. 36% of respondents choose to turn these commissions down, but it seems that it is worth the effort to push back: 41% still took the job after negotiating a compromise with the client.

Have you been asked by a client to produce artworks that you know to be outdated and/or inaccurate?

Yes: 37% in 2019. 49% in 2017. No: 63% in 2019. 51% in 2017.

If you answered “yes,” did you still take the commission?

Yes: 23% in 2019. 20% in 2017. Yes, but only after compromise: 41% in 2019. 46% in 2017. No: 36% in 2019. 34% in 2017.
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Paleoart as a Livelihood

In order to understand what paleoartists earn, it was crucial for this to be an anonymous survey. There were a few respondents who declined to answer specific questions of income, but the majority did answer these questions. The major takeaways of this section were reported above in Key Finding 4. Here, we’ll report on the further details of how paleoartists earn their income. These questions were only available to the professional subset of 184 respondents.

Prints and Merchandise

Over three quarters of respondents in the professional subset reported that they sell original art, reproductions, or derivative merchandise of their art. Use of print-on-demand sites like Society6, Redbubble, Zazzle, and Lulu decreased by 9%, while artists reporting that they use their own storefront on-line dropped by a huge 23%.

Do you sell your artwork?

Yes: 79% in 2019. 77% in 2017. No: 21% in 2019. 23% in 2017.

Where do you sell your work?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers.

At conferences and conventions: 33% in 2019. 34% in 2017. Print-on-demand sites: 45% in 2019. 54% in 2017. On-line storefront: 34% in 2019. 57% in 2017. Other: 24% in 2019. 27% in 2017.

Note: Many "other" answers could be counted under the "conferences or conventions", and a good number of respondents seemed to interpret the question as referring to commissions. Future surveys could improve this by being more explicit that we're not talking about commissioned work - just originals, prints, and other merchandise that is marketed to the public.

Most of those artists who sell at conferences report that they are able to either cover costs or turn a profit. In one of the most eyebrow-raising results this year, the percentage of artists reporting that events are profitable for them doubled over the first survey.

When you sell at exhibiting events, how lucrative is it?

Usually turn a profit: 51% in 2019. 25% in 2017. Usually able to cover costs: 30% in 2019. 30% in 2019. Usually unable to cover costs: 19% in 2019. 27% in 2017.


Crowdfunding has become a prominent form of funding creative work online, but even with the larger sample size this time, the majority of paleoartists haven't used it. Of the 31 who have, use of both Kickstarter and Patreon increased considerably since the first survey.

Have you used crowdfunding?

Yes: 16% in 2019. 17% in 2017. No: 84% in 2019. 83% in 2017.

If you have used crowdfunding, what platforms have you used?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers.

Kickstarter: 48% in 2019. 40% in 2017. Indiegogo: 10% in 2019. 20% in 2017. Patreon: 61% in 2019. 52% in 2017. Other: 10% in 2019. 12% in 2017.

Promotion and advertising

Social media and other forms of on-line promotion are popular among paleoartists, with only a tiny percentage reporting that they use paid advertising. But paid advertising actually did gain a bit over 2017.

How do you promote yourself?

Social media: 88% in 2019. 90% in 2017. Your own blog: 32% in 2019. 43% in 2017. Online portfolio: 58% in 2019. 63% in 2017. Online artist community: 52% in 2019. 55% in 2017. In-person networking: 59% in 2019. 62% in 2017. Pay for online advertising: 5% in 2019. 1% in 2017. Pay for print advertising: 2% in 2019. 1% in 2017. Other: 4% in 2019. 8% in 2017.
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Perceptions of the Field

How do paleoartists view their field, its challenges, financial sustainability, and their peers?

Ethical concerns

Respondents were asked to weigh in on a list of contentious practices, indicating which they personally took issue with. The percentages all dropped a bit, with "copying a piece of paleoart in a different style" taking the largest drop. 2% of respondents seem to have no ethical qualms about any of the practices offered, remaining the same as the first survey. 28% saw doing client work for free as ethically problematic; compare to the 36% of professional respondents who report that they never work for free.

Which of the following practices do you find ethically problematic?

Respondents chould choose multiple answers.

Sharing a piece of paleoart online (social media, blog post, etc) without credit: 79% in 2019. 82% in 2017. Creating a close copy of an existing piece of paleoart: 73% in 2019. 71% in 2017. Copying an existing piece of paleoart in a different style: 36% in 2019. 51% in 2017. Tracing an existing paleoart illustration for use as a silhouette: 61% in 2019. 70% in 2017. Drawing a reconstruction over an existing skeletal diagram without credit: 55% in 2019. 65% in 2017. Mimicking another paleoartist’s signature style: 36% in 2019. 40% in 2017. Doing client work for free: 28% in 2019. 30% in 2017. None of the above: 2% in 2019 and 2017.

While most artists did not believe that they themselves had been plagiarized, they were acutely aware of it happening to other artists.

To your knowledge, has your artwork ever been plagiarized?

Yes: 19% in 2019. 27% in 2017. No: 81% in 2019. 73% in 2017.

Do you know of other artists whose artwork has been plagiarized?

Yes: 78% in 2019. 82% in 2017. No: 22% in 2019. 18% in 2017.

A new question was added to this second survey, hoping to find what qualities paleoartists see as important to their role as members of this community. The two that rose above 50% indicate that adherence to scientific understanding and creating unique work are highly regarded qualities. That doesn't necessarily carry over to working with scientists, suggesting that paleoartists are confident in their research abilities. The 36% here who report "consulting with scientists" is important to their credibility matches the percentage who reported the same as one of their research methods.

What do you think is most important to your credibility as a paleoartist?

Rigorously adhering to the current scientific understanding of your subject matter: 71%. Consulting with scientists when developing a piece of paleoart: 36%. Creating original artwork that contributes a unique perspective on the subject matter: 73%. Developing a knowledge of the history of the craft and its practitioners: 49%. Engaging in speculative reconstructions: 43%. Creating stylistically unique artwork: 48%. Speaking up for victims of plagiarism: 26%. Being educated on best practices of copyright and intellectual property law: 29%. Offering critique and guidance to other paleoartists: 36%.

Long-term sustainability

Respondents were unsure about the sustainability of paleoart as an industry. Regarding whether their craft is given respect by the scientific community, we added a "not sure" option this year, which gained about as many responses as "yes." Most respondents report that they stay engaged with the current state of paleontology and paleoart. The most interesting result here was that we saw a significant drop in the number of respondents who "keep informed about the history of the discipline, as well as the methodologies and philosophies of fellow paleoartists."

Do you view paleoart as an industry with a sustainable and prosperous future?

Yes: 41.20% in 2019. 39% in 2017. No: 5%  in 2019. 12% in 2017. Not Sure: 54% in 2019. 48% in 2017.

Do you think that paleoart is well respected by the scientific community?

Yes: 41% in 2019. 61% in 2017. No: 17% in 2019. 39% in 2017. Not Sure: 42% in 2019.

Do you keep informed about the history of the discipline, as well as the methodologies and philosophies of fellow paleoartists?

Yes: 64% in 2019. 81% in 2017. No: 36% in 2019. 19% in 2017.


Respondents were asked to provide a list of their influences in a short answer format. They were able to list multiple artists. The 21 most named influences are provided here, with their 2017 numbers given for comparison. For a full list of mentions, please see Appendix B.

2019 total
2017 total
Mark Witton
201 (31%)
95 (27%)
Emily Willoughby
99 (15%)
57 (16%)
John Conway
98 (15%)
95 (27%)
Charles Knight
76 (12%)
56 (16%)
Doug Henderson
73 (11%)
66 (19%)
Joschua Knüppe
71 (11%)
25 (7%)
James Gurney
54 (8%)
43 (12%)
Gregory Paul
53 (8%)
66 (19%)
Scott Hartman
50 (8%)
43 (12%)
Julio Lacerda
49 (7%)
12 (3%)
RJ Palmer
47 (7%)
19 (5%)
Gabriel Ugueto
44 (7%)
6 (2%)
Mauricio Antón
36 (6%)
17 (5%)
Julius Csotonyi
34 (5%)
29 (8%)
Brian Engh
33 (5%)
24 (7%)
Luis Rey
32 (5%)
41 (12%)
Zdenek Burian
31 (5%)
19 (5%)
Andrey Atuchin
28 (4%)
17 (5%)
Fred Wierum
26 (4%)
2 (1%)
John Sibbick
23 (4%)
31 (9%)
Mark Hallett
23 (4%)
40 (11%)
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Short Answers

Four short answer questions were provided for artists to share their thoughts about a range of concerns. Ten from each section are provided here, but if you'd like to read all responses, each question includes a link to a Google Doc containing nearly all answers (responses like "no" or "I don't know" have been excised). In retrospect, the first two questions were probably a bit too similar and had significant overlap in the sentiments expressed - paleoartists in part see paleoart as worthwhile because they see it as important to society's understanding of life's history on earth. Answers have not been edited.

In your opinion, why is paleoart a worthwhile and valuable pursuit?

To read all responses, please see this Google Doc.

  • "Dinosaurs are cool, have always been cool, and always will be cool. The same applies to any other extinct animal. It's great to always be learning about all the freakazoids who used to call Earth home."
  • "Paleoart is the most easily-accessible medium for understanding prehistory. While technical papers and academic publications may be indecipherable to the layperson, even the youngest children can understand a piece of art depicting extinct life. It's also a unique combination of scientific methodology and artistic expression. There's endless opportunities for artists to draw inspiration from the deep past and create something new, which broadens the scope of a centuries-old art form and contributes to our understanding of the world we inhabit."
  • "It’s art. Art is always worthwhile."
  • "I find it mentally stimulating. I'm forcing both "halves" of my brain to work together in synch, and I'm always better informed after every piece I do. It's a "niche" artform that seems to have plenty of room for growth and (on the more "greedy" side of things) profit.
  • In short, I think it better helps us understand how the past directly effects the present and future."
  • "I think being able to imagine what these long lost animals must have look liked is a privilege we as animals have. Plus, just like any other animal, they're really cool and learning about what they must have looked like is like a time machine into the past."
  • "Paleoart allows me to develop and present ideas about anatomy, evolution, and deep time in a non-verbal, sensory format that complements what I can learn from written science. I feel it allows for a deeper understanding of the life of the past."
  • "It's about expressing a connection with deep time and in some ways a method of trying to understand the past by visualising it. I think it's important to try to show how environments and species could have been to help give perspective on current times. And of course, it is simply an interesting thing to do!"
  • "I have often experienced that my "stupid" questions on trivial things like skin, wrinkles, soft parts lead the scientists to new understandings of the species. So the creation of paleoart is a way to develop a broader understanding of how life were in prehistory. Specialists tends to focus on narrow fields, so meeting generalists or specialists in other fields lead to new knowledge."
  • "I think paleontologist is the researcher while paleoartist is the public speaker."
  • "Just as art is crucial to the modern natural world and biology, and throughout history of the fields; so too should art be crucial in palaeontology. Illustrations can help visualise synapomorphies more than text alone for some working in the field. More understanding of theories from art (for example the colour theory), can pave for new hypothesis and methods where a single experience in science alone may miss or overlook."

Why do you think paleoart is important to society at large?

To read all responses, please see this Google Doc.

  • "It is (in my opinion) the most effective tool for communicating scientific ideas to the public. It also brings extinct organisms to life in a way that simply looking at fossils can’t always do.
  • I feel that a majority of the public has been misinformed on what prehistoric animals, and it is important as scientific thinkers that we do our best to destroy this misinformation and misconceptions. The public should have an accurate picture in their mind about what prehistoric life was actually like."
  • "Imagination is key to progress!"
  • "Because paleoart serves to put our everyday lives, society, and the problems we face as a civilization into the context of deep time. It can be used to rise awareness of conservational efforts and why it is important of preserving modern ecosystems by showing the public the vast diversity and fragility of the life of the past, and how changing climate and environmental conditions have affected it."
  • "Because it shows how science and art can be unified, and teaches in a graphic way.
  • "Meh... That’s like asking - why is music important to society? Art is one of those things that is more important to do, rather than to define or classify."
  • "I have no idea."
  • "You can write many pages about that new wonderful genus of anomalocarid you discovered, but many people will only pay attention to it if there is an image attached, conveying the creature in a much faster and possibly more accurate fashion than a longwinded text full of scientific terms a layman might not even know. Paleoart closes a gap between the scientific community and those who maybe where just unfortunate and simply couldnt afford college, but still wish to learn more about prehistoric life. I collect childrens books about prehistoric life. And even in the year 2018 I have to find that 80% of all depictions in them are outdated, copied from volumes ten years old and actively hurt the perception of youth on prehistoric life as a whole. As such modern Paleoart also has to sort of counterbalance those false depictions, as hard as a task this may be. Maybe when I am old I can finally buy a book about dinosaurs that is as accurate as the book about horses next to it. We have a lot to tell in this field. Paleoart is a way to make all those things better heard and understood.
  • It provides an understanding of how changing environment have not only contributed to the formation of new species but have caused extinctions. This gives us a better understanding of how our affects on climate can be detrimental to survival."
  • "People at large and laity enjoy past life they can't witness. A museum of only bones and impressions gives a sense of scale, but it gives little sense of shape. By contrasting the known with the possible, you open a window into a universe these people have never seen. The past is a foreign country, but paleoart is the passport.
  • "No." [Harsh! - ed.]

Is there anything that you think paleoartists could be doing to improve conditions or opportunities within the field?

As you might expect with hundreds of answers, some thoughts appeared over and over. Commonly voiced concerns included gatekeeping and elitism, urging for more tactful and welcoming behavior and a focus on constructive crticism. Charging fair rates, more transparency and sharing of process, and the creation of a formal paleoart organization also came up numerous times. To read all responses, see this Google Doc.

  • "Creating a more welcoming and encouraging atmosphere within the community (by giving more constructive rather than destructive criticism, which is especially necessary on online platforms like Twitter) would be helpful not only for people experienced in the field but especially for newcomers (like me) to not be discouraged and continue creating art and improving."
  • "By branching out to other mediums and art forms. For instance I don't know of many who have done comics for education, or how-to-draw guides for showing people how knowing paleontology can be a useful tool for creature design is scifi and fantasy. I also don't see sound artists even mentioned as existing in this survey. Surely there are people interested in reconstructing the sounds of ancient dinosaurs or sea critters. What about people who create physical models?"
  • "I feel that paleoartists need to be more inclusive when it comes to people of different genders, sexual orientations, POC, with disabilities and with various ethnicities and artistic skillsets (beyond male, pale and privileged). I feel that the people that are showcased or who earn awards are those who are privileged, versus those who are not, and this needs to change. I also feel those same individuals are the ones who get recognized work-wise and tend to sell more art. Seeing other artists as competition versus people to work with is another issue, on top of being overly critical of new artists and their work. Seeing and encouraging potential artists is best, rather than pushing others away."
  • "Stop doing work for cheap/free. Artists who do this many still live with parents and don’t have bills. I was told by an author, after I gave my price for one color image, that he could only afford a half size black and white based on my rates (which were below standard) Then I found out one single artist is doing all 60 of the other images in the book. The only conclusion I can come to is they’re undercharging or doing it for free."
  • "Support women, those of the LGBT community, people of color, and minorities and bring their work to the forefront."
  • "I think more paleoartists should work on smaller/less charismatic fauna, especially invertebrates and fish. Plants, too. Prehistoric plants are beautiful, but I hardly ever see art of them.
  • As someone coming from a general illustration background I do not have many contacts in the scientific community or educational publishing industry, it would honestly be nice to see more workshops, events, or even just general listings for that type of work. Not everyone can make it across the country to go to one conference that they might be able to make contacts at. Heck, even a guide with recommendations for where to look or how to get your name out to places might be nice."
  • "We might consider forming a standard, recommended contract agreement for paleoart commissions. There's a lot of young people on the field, just starting and not sure how to handle commissions professionally - and probably not part of any professional artist's associations that could help. Having a blank contract to use as a model might help them avoid all sorts of trouble with clients. Recommended commission prices would be a lot more difficult, since we're a global community, and the value of money varies wildly."
  • "Maintain strictness on accuracy, but be wary and have restraint when it comes to critiquing people who are evidently new or uninformed. We, as a community, have a tendency to be quite harsh when we see, say, a scaly dromaeosaur drawn by somebody who clearly doesn't know any better, and it can make mingling with the palaeoartist community quite daunting for newbies. Remember that not everyone has had access to the same information we have."
  • "Is there a need/desire for a formal group/organization? I know that contributors here have sought to create forums for discussion and even codes of best practices which are phenomenal for Paleoart. Maybe I’m not digitally minded enough and the survey and things like LITC are more than adequate?"
  • "The thing that springs to mind is that well established, widely admired palaeoartists might provide more information about their processes. How exactly do they translate measurements from a lateral view skeletal onto a differently posed individual seen from a different angle? How precisely are areas of light and shadow referenced or thought through? How do they decide what size an original piece will be (if using trad. media?) Overall: how many of the decisions that go into the final piece are carefully, maybe even mathematically worked out, and how many of the decisions are more along the lines of 'this looks good / feels right'? However, I understand that there are a variety of reasons why any given palaeoartist might not want to be completely transparent about their process."

Do you have any other thoughts about the field of paleoart that haven't been covered by this survey?

Here, I'm going to mostly focus on responses that offered constructive criticism of the survey itself. In the next survey, I will likely rephrase this question to directly ask for survey feedback.

There are some fantastic suggestions here though, that will certainly help to improve the survey! To read all responses, see this Google Doc.

  • "One thought about the survey; while it was fairly comprehensive for independent artists working primarily based on composition, I did not see a way to indicate whether we were self-employed, worked as a regular museum employee, or some other mix. As someone who works partially as museum staff, partially as a freelancer, and partially on original content, I wasn't quite sure how to respond about commissions. If this was accounted for in the questions and I missed it, I apologize."
  • "Many paleoartists do other work too. It may be interesting to hear what variety of other work we do. For my part, I work as a lab manager, segment a lot of CT data, and run/use/fix a micro CT scanner."
  • "It asks very little about the use and depictions of fossil species in art for uses other than science. I know that's usually the point of "paleoart" as it is often discussed, but I think there is a big overlap in areas of entertainment and media. I think the relationship among these two areas is hugely symbiotic. Entretainment and pop-culture interest in the depictions of prehistoric species brings public, funding and future academics to the scientiffic branch and the scientiffic branch ought to infuse the former with educational value, life and authenticity. It would be interesting to know hows much science entertainment-centered artists bring to their depictions of prehistoric species and what science-base artist do to reach the public at large outside."
  • "Influences in the topics that doesn’t necessarily involve paleoart, artist as influence but that doesn’t focus on paleoart."
  • "I would love to hear people's opinions on whether or not dedicated paleoartists feel that their work is regarded as fanciful or fantastic by natural history artists depicting purely extant organisms. I have met a few well regarded wildlife painters that do not understand the rigorous scientific study that goes into good paleoart and, thus regard the field as being akin to fantasy art."
  • "I think it's worth noting in this survey that this year I took on some huge projects and needed to hire an art assistant for finishing some of the art for. The tone of the most of the online paleoart community is so confrontational and generally whiny and obnoxious that rather than hire people who fancy themselves as paleoartists I turned to friends who are professional artists in other fields and hired them, which required I give detailed instruction and explanation to ensure scientific accuracy, but I honestly I think that bit of extra time was worthwhile because the work was executed well and the working relationship was pleasant and fun. There are extremely few paleoartists I am currently aware of that I would even consider hiring to help with large projects I can't complete by myself (exhibits etc) either because of a lack of a real physical/positive presence in the paleontological community or because their art is generally uninspiring or amateurish technically. I wish this weren't the case, as I have other big projects lined up that I will need to hire help for in 2019.

    Be friendly, show up, work hard and deliver on time. This is how to be professional and get work."
  • "I think a note should be made about what the different types of careers as a paleo artist one would like to go into, such as anatomical diagrams, book illustrations, sceneries, museum displays, etc.
  • "I only can think in that a survey like this is not doing for example, for Latin America. I don't mean that you must due make a version, but that it is a symptom of that outside of the English-speaking world, the community involved or interested in paleontology is more dispersed (and maybe, smaller)."
  • "I love this community, even though I haven't been participating of late. It is the best group of people I've found on the internet, who really care about what they are doing and about helping each other."
  • "Acknowledge that paleo pop culture is here to stay. We may all be annoyed about the JP/JW franchise for various reasons, but we can NOT ignore the fact that THIS IS WHERE IT BEGINS for a portion of the next generation of paleontologists and artists. Find a way to interweave it into your dialogue and interactions in a way that speaks your truth, but doesn’t punch down at those hoping to find a door cracked open and waiting for them to enter the room where the rest of us are hanging out. Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Welcome that without ridicule."
  • "The paleoart community is so welcoming, and friendly. I am proud to be a part of a community with so many kind, critical thinkers."
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Methodology and Acknowledgments

The survey was conducted via a Google Form which took responses from March 1, 2019 until July 31, 2019. It was publicized via the Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs blog, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and DeviantArt, as well as via the Dinosaur Mailing List and personal email correspondence. In order to gather the most data possible, most questions in each section were required, with only a few follow-up questions being optional. Pablo Lara Herrera translated the survey into Spanish and drew 38 additional Spanish-speaking respondents.

The Survey of Paleoartists was launched with an inaugural edition in 2017, conceived of and initially drafted by David Orr. The second draft was heavily influenced by critical input from Matt Celeskey, Bob Nicholls, and Mark Witton, who helped clarify questions and suggested new lines of inquiry. Brian Engh, Emily Willoughby, and Glendon Mellow also provided critical feedback. After the 2017 survey was completed, Matt Celeskey and Mark Witton provided key feedback towards honing existing questions and adding new ones in the 2019 edition.

After the response period ended, Matt Celeskey compiled all of the survey data for interpretation. Pablo Lara Herrera did the same for the Spanish edition.

This report was designed and written by me, David Orr. I want to extend my deepest thanks to both Matt and Pablo for the work they've done, without which this survey would not be possible.

Final Thoughts

After running the first survey, I was most eager to get more people to take part. To that end, this second outing was a huge leap forward! I'm really happy with the increased sample size. It's interesting to me that so many questions had very similar results.

Still, my focus on improving this survey is to further increase the number of respondents. I especially want to reach more of the professional subset. To that end, I'm still seeking international collaborators who can assist in bringing artists who don't speak English onboard. We have large gaps in our knowledge due to the language barrier. If you are willing to help me by running parallel surveys in other languages, please reach out by emailing me.

It also seems appropriate to gather more information about the diversity of the field, and I will be looking into meaningful ways to collect that data from a global pool of respondents.

Thanks so much for reading this report. I hope that it is informative and useful for the paleoart community. Please feel free to discuss this with me at the email above or on Twitter.

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Appendix A: Specializations

If you answered that you specialize in a certain subject, what is it?

Flora combined: 8

Invertebrates combined: 14

Vertebrates combined: 188

Synapsids combined: 23

Reptiles combined: 184

Dinosaurs combined: 144

Time-Specific: 77

Paleozoic combined: 13

Mesozoic combined: 56

Cenozoic combined: 11

Region-Specific combined (includes Formations and localities): 12

Miscellaneous: 23

Appendix B: Paleoart Influences

What paleoartists do you count as major influences on your work?

Appendix C: Professional Organisations

Are you a member of any professional organizations related to paleontology or paleoart?

Scientific (National/International): 50

Illustration: 33

Websites and Online Communities: 12

Museum or Collections affiliated: 12

University affiliated: 8

Regional Paleontology Societies: 14

Publishers: 1

Appendix D: Countries of Residence

New countries this year were the Philippines, Ireland, Ecuador, Venezuela, American Samoa, Armenia, Bolivia, Guatemala, Paraguay, Romania, and Singapore. Countries reported in 2017 but not 2019 are Belgium, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, and Slovakia.