Spinosaurus fishiness, part n

September 15, 2014

UPDATE the next day: Since I published this post, it’s become clear that the similarities in the two images are in fact convergence. Davide Bonadonna got in touch with Mike and me, and he has been very gracious and conciliatory. In fact, he volunteered to let us post the making-of images for his painting, which I will do shortly. I’m sorry that my initial post was more inquisitorial than inquisitive, and implied wrongdoing on Davide’s part. Rather than edit it out of existence, I’m going to let it stand as a cautionary signal to my future self. Stand by for the new post as soon as I can get it assembled and published….aaaand here it is.

——-

Scott Hartman has already explainedtwice–that the super-short-legged, “Ambulocetus-grade” Spinosaurus from the new Ibrahim et al. (2014) paper has some major problems. Those are both good, careful, thought-provoking posts and you should go read them.

I’m writing about something else fishy with the “new” Spinosaurus and, in particular, National Geographic’s media push. Let’s check out this life restoration, newly prepared for the Spinosaurus story:

Spinosaurus - Nat Geo

And now let’s look at this one by Brian Engh from a couple of years ago, borrowed from Brian’s art page:

Spinosaurus KemKem - Brian Engh

And let’s count up the similarities:

  • Two spinosaurs, one in the foreground with its head mostly or entirely submerged as it bites a fish, and one further back on the right with its head complete out of the water;
  • Two turtles, one in the foreground with its head out of the water, and one further back on the right fully submerged;
  • A good diversity of fish swimming around in the foreground;
  • Pterosaurs flying way back in the background;

And finally, and most interestingly to me:

  • A curved-water-surface, fish-eye perspective to the whole scene.

All the bits are moved around a bit, but pretty much everything in Brian’s picture is in the new one. Is it all just a big coincidence–or rather, a fairly lengthy series of coincidences? Seems unlikely. Your thoughts are welcome.

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46 Responses to “Spinosaurus fishiness, part n

  1. Sean Says:

    I agree it’s no coincidence, plagiarism at that, but at least we get another take on a good piece.

  2. Matt Wedel Says:

    I believe that you have found the razor-thin silver lining on this particular cloud. So let me destroy it: if Nat Geo wanted another take on Brian’s painting, they should have commissioned Brian to do it.


  3. I really don’t see how this is plagiarism, Sean. The images are pretty different — different poses, lighting, backgrounds, coloration, etc. Unless you think Brian Engh owns the idea of spinosaurs existing in pairs, eating fish, or living alongside turtles and pterosaurs.

    The curved water thing is the strongest similiarity, and the only thing that makes me think it’s possible that the Nat. Geo. artist saw Brian’s piece first. But maybe they didn’t. And even if they did, they clearly went through pains to do their own, unique composition.


  4. It takes a certain talent to make a painting, which is clearly intended to be significantly distinct from one of its reference images, look like an obvious knock-off – which is a shame, as they’re both good images. It begs the question, why go to such lengths to effectively repeat an existing composition?


  5. Agree with Mike, tho’, this isn’t plagiarism (so ‘knock-off’ probably wasn’t my best choice of phrase).

  6. Greg Laden Says:

    This is not even close to any normal definition of plagurism. Certainly, showing an underwater thing using the usual under water perspective thing is just what you would do. Depicting an aquatic beast in the water is just what you do. I would like to know who or what got under whose bonnet in connection to spinosaurous. Meanwhile, when you say you borrowed the pics, I assume you have written permission to reproduce them right? :)

  7. Donna Braginetz Says:

    I agree with Mike Keesey. There *are* many elements in common and I wouldn’t be surprised if Brian Engh’s work functioned as the springboard for the new illustration, but nothing’s been copied verbatim. Brian may reserve the right to be justifiably miffed (I would be), but the new piece is stunning in its own right and also part of a much wider painting.

  8. Nizar Says:

    Thanks for weighing in Mike. I find the original post a little disturbing and it would have been nice to maybe contact the people involved first. I am all for lively discussions and I am happy to deal with scientific questions, but I draw the line when my colleagues and friends are attacked in this way. We have worked with our artist, Davide Bonadonna on Spinosaurus artwork for years and this piece (which is only part of the original scene, which had more Spinosaurus individuals in it) is absolutely unique. He is the only artist that really knows the anatomy of the animal first hand and he has done an incredible job. Also, just for the record, the turtle was added at the last minute because it was felt by editorial staff it was needed for scale. I will be happy to answer any other questions you may have.

    Nizar

  9. Sean Says:

    Matt, I was simply trying to put a positive spin on things.

    Keesey, Donna, I’m skeptical that it wasn’t at least somewhat inspired. However, this could be an unconscious inspiration, for all we know.

  10. sublunary Says:

    Interesting… I wouldn’t have noticed the similarity on my own, I don’t think, but that’s largely because the lush forest background and blue water give a radically different ‘feel’ (to me anyway) than the isolated smoking island in the background and muddy-yellow water.

    The foreground posture really doesn’t look all that similar to me within the limitations of ‘Spinosaurus chasing after a fish’ – it would pretty much have to dip its head underwater to grab a fish, I would think, and the overall body posture’s not that similar – the Nat Geo one is bending around and looks to me to be actively swimming, while the Brian Engh one is in a straight line and appears to be toes-touching-the-bottom and hind feet pretty close together – it looks to me like only the head/neck and maybe the arms are in motion.

  11. Zach Miller Says:

    Brian’s piece is clearly the beginning of a new paleo-art meme.

  12. Davide Bonadonna Says:

    Hello everybody
    I find so interesting to read comments and criticism about my artwork displayed in this blog.
    Except those who believe or not that the illustration has to be considered plagiarism rather than just inspired, which I think appropriate and necessary, I beg to point out that perhaps it would be more logical to ask directly to me some information about this image genesis.
    I use to be supervised by a palaeontologist on such projects (this time even two!). Then I had to confront me with magazine needs. Believe me, it’s a very long and challenging work.
    If you like I can easily show you the making-of of it, right because I use to preserve every single step of my art when so elaborated, from the very first sketches to the final art. So, maybe, the “mistery” can be solved and all of you can better clarify his ideas about the final conclusion.
    Did I copy? Was I just inspired or is it a case of “illustrative convergence”?

    All the best
    Davide Bonadonna

  13. Matt Wedel Says:

    Thanks, everyone, for commenting.

    The fact is that both images are circulating in the media regarding the Spinosaurus story–Brian’s was used in this Discover magazine blog post. Sooner or later someone was going to notice that they have a lot in common, and wonder if the one published in 2010 influenced the one published in 2014.

    I have seen dozens, possibly hundreds, of life restorations of Spinosaurus in my life, in countless books, magazine articles, and webpages. I’ve only ever seen two that have a curved, fish-eye half-water half-air viewpoint. We know how Brian Engh came up with his image because he has put the whole story online. His fish-eye view was inspired by the actual view from the GoPro camera he took to the river to get reference shots for lighting. So, no, Greg, it’s not “just what you do”. It’s what one artist did in 2010 that no-one else in the history of illustrating spinosaurs had ever done, for very specific reasons derived from the mountain of invisible background work that went into his creative process.

    Maybe this second example was illustrative convergence. And if so, I’ll be the first to trumpet the good news. If there’s a completely independent line of creative work that led to such a similar outcome, it would be a fascinating story. I’d like to hear it.

  14. Craig Dylke Says:

    I’m getting a real Brian Engh fanboy vibe from this post… which would be fine, if it didn’t cross a line, and start implying Davide Bonadonna of being some rather unpleasant things, without a scrape of evidence. Which coming from a scientist is rather disappointing. I would think evidence is the name of the game when proposing a hypothesis.

    While there certainly have been some bad cases of palaeo-art plagiarism in the past couple years, thinking in particular the Witton AMNH incident, this is not even remotely close to one of them!

    At worst it could be said Mr. Bonadonna’s new piece took some inspiration from Mr. Engh’s picture. That’s IT. Nothing in those two pictures remotely matches the other except in concept.

    Water animals drawn in water, and with some funky water perspective thrown in to look like a documentary camera. Are you then Matt, saying Brian Engh invented this whole convention?

    I actually think you’ll find he didn’t, and that he “borrowed” (with all the implications you just threw at Mr. Bonadonna) that from someone else when you look into it… So could you then do your homework (which you should have done in the first place before posting this rather uncalled for attack) and then do justice for whomever Mr. Engh has ripped off the water perspective thing from.

    Drawing an animal with its surrounding palaeo-environment cast of characters. I know as a matter of fact Engh “borrowed” that from other artists. Can you please figure out the first person to do this and call out Mr. Engh for uncreatively “borrowing” that too.

    *Sigh*

    And it is a wonder that the field of palaeo-art can’t really take off. Now we have palaeontologists entering into the fray instigating public fights against talented and legitimate artists, all because a project (they weren’t involved in) didn’t happen to hire THEIR favorite artist.

    I knew there’s a reason I’ve quit palaeo and moved to the board game industry…


  15. The only thing fishy here is the fish.

  16. Matt Wedel Says:

    I actually think you’ll find he didn’t, and that he “borrowed” (with all the implications you just threw at Mr. Bonadonna) that from someone else when you look into it… So could you then do your homework (which you should have done in the first place before posting this rather uncalled for attack) and then do justice for whomever Mr. Engh has ripped off the water perspective thing from.

    No, Craig, as I wrote in the comment immediately previous to yours, Brian got his fish-eye view from his GoPro camera. So, actually, I did my homework, and you didn’t.

    At worst it could be said Mr. Bonadonna’s new piece took some inspiration from Mr. Engh’s picture. That’s IT.

    And if so, would it not be proper to credit that inspiration? At what point do we stop calling it inspiration and start calling it something else? I’m legitimately curious here–some people think Bonadonna’s piece owes a lot to Brian’s, others seem to find no important similarities. How do you tell? If someone wrote a paper that similar to one of mine and didn’t cite me, I’d be very upset. Are the rules that different for art?

  17. Craig Dylke Says:

    While I understand what your talking about with papers… where and when has art ever cited anything?

    That then also implies Brian Engh invented all the conventions of his own Spinosaurus piece, and I very strongly contend he did not.

    He did NOT invent in water perspectives. He did NOT come up with the concept of reconstructing a full palaeo-environment ecology complete with other non-Dinosaurian critters. He did NOT invent Spinosaurus.

    Why is he not then being accused of ripping people off in your post?

    The fish and turtles in both pieces are based on real fossil creatures last time I checked. Of course the fish and turtles are going to be the same in two pictures of the SAME palaeo environment!

    Beyond the fact there are two Spinosaurs, and both happen to be in the water there are no artistic similarities whats so ever in those two pieces. The actual perspectives on the animals, the water composition, the overall pieces’ colour schemes, the animals alignment etc are all completely DIFFERENT!

    So can we now please have the post that completely takes Brian Engh to task for ripping off in water perspectives, drawing animals from a palaeo-environment with a Dinosaur, and while we’re at it for ripping off the palaeo-art tradition from Charles Knight…

    It’d be one thing if the Nat Geo pic looked a lot like Engh’s, but it doesn’t really. From an informed artist point of view they aren’t the same at all…

    If we’re going to play the who ripped off who I’d actually contend Brian Engh “borrowed” his underwater perspective in palaeo-art from Julius Csotonyi…… however let’s end this game now, and just admit we all live in the shadow of Knight. He’s the only guy who really invented anything truly unique in this field (and even then he was “borrowing” from nature artists before him)

  18. Craig Dylke Says:

    You are then saying Brian was the first person EVER to paint what his underwater camera captured?

    That is my issue. You’re argument currently implies this to be the case. As otherwise he is “borrowing” that idea from someone else… as we’ve ruled out great minds think alike… or that there are only so many ways to draw water realistically

    I’m not saying he didn’t have references. I’m just saying I’m incredibly doubtful he is the first person to EVER paint a underwater shot like it was taken by an underwater camera!

  19. Mike Taylor Says:

    Very interesting to wake up this morning to this thread, and to see that even among other palaeoartists who’ve commented, there’s nothing like a consensus about this. For what it’s worth, I’m not artist enough (and I don’t know the field’s norms well enough) to have an opinion of my own.

    Davide wrote:

    If you like I can easily show you the making-of of it, right because I use to preserve every single step of my art when so elaborated, from the very first sketches to the final art. So, maybe, the “mistery” can be solved and all of you can better clarify his ideas about the final conclusion.

    I would love to see a post like that! We did something similar for the life restoration of Brontomerus and to my mind it’s one of our most interesting posts. It would be great to see more pieces that show how palaeoart comes into being.

  20. brian engh Says:

    I just wanna go on record and say I don’t think this is plagiarism, but I do think it’s pretty disappointing that such a high-profile image made in collaboration with a number of respected paleontologists, with access to a chunk of new and thought-provoking evidence, and presumably a pretty (ahem!) comfortable budget wasn’t able to innovate beyond what I came up with four years ago, mostly by myself, only working at distance with a single undergrad paleontologist who paid me $100 for about 3 weeks of work.

    I’m just saying step up your game yall. Even if you never saw my art you’re getting schooled 4 years in advance by a weirdo borderline amateur who spends most of his time making rap videos.

    The new illustration is really pretty though. On a technical illustration-skill level: mad respect. Dude can draw!!

    here’s that blog post about my goofy process again:
    http://dontmesswithdinosaurs.com/?p=1160


  21. Mike Taylor wrote:

    Very interesting to wake up this morning to this thread, and to see that even among other palaeoartists who’ve commented, there’s nothing like a consensus about this.

    I’m not sure if Sean’s an artist, but, if not, every artist here (Brian included) doesn’t think it’s plagiarism. Sean’s second post even backs off and calls it “inspiration”. I’d say there’s a pretty clear consensus on that score.

    You want some real examples of plagiarism, look at just about any post on Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs: http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/


  22. Hi all,

    I would like to point out some things as I was involved from the beginning in this drawing.
    The drawing published by NGS is part of a bigger drawing (one third is missing on the left) with more animals and the turtle was a last-minute addition for scale reference (as Davide said – and we have several almost final versions without any turtle, as well as some versions with Carcharodontosaurus on the land, that was cut from the final version). Most important, for the curved water thing (that is more and more prominent in Davide’s artwork), the idea was born looking at diorama at the Museo di Storia Naturale di Milano, which is not a brand new concept, rather it is a common way to show both sky and water. Later, Davide took inspiration by photographs of living animal underwater showing the curved water surface. The illustration by Brian Engh is very nice, but there are no links between these two drawings. We started to work on a widest composition, including a mix of photos of birds and crocs, with the idea to show all the parts of the environment (sky, river, land). I work with Davide since many years and our main reference are living animals (birds and crocs in this case) and real landscapes. When we decide to refer to other drawings we are usual to point this out (e.g., our Diplodocus poster in which the colour of the animal is a tribute to Mark Hallet’s Diplodocus).
    As Nizar Ibrahim said, please contact people involved before drawing conclusions, so you can judge on the basis of more information and the debate could be more relaxed.

    Have a nice day,
    Simone Maganuco

  23. Bryan Riolo Says:

    Sorry, y’all, but I do not think there is any plagiarism involved here. The pics are so different, I have a hard time thinking the National G pic is a copy of Brian’s work. Seems to me Brian’s Spinos are superior. In counting up similarities and claiming it’s plagiarism, you are going beyond the boundaries of the “country” you should be in and you are entering dangerous territory.

    Is Brian to be counted as a plagiarist because other artists have drawn Spinosaurus before him? I think not.

    Michael Skrepnik has used fish-eye lens effects in his paintings for years. Is Brian cheating? Michael? I think not

    I will state categorically I don’t think there is anything done wrong with that painting from a moral standpoint. And I’ve had to deal with art thieves a fair number of times. Paleo-art is rife with lazy artists who could not truly originate a good quality picture of any kind.

    I do not think this is one of those cases.

    IF the bottom pic is Brian’s work, I find it far superior to the new pic.

  24. Mike Taylor Says:

    Sure, Mike — no-one but Sean, in a comment since rescinded, has called this plagiarism. (That includes Matt: check the original post.) The question here is about inspiration, not direct plagiarism of the rip-off-a-Knight-painting-for-a-1960s-kids-book variety.

  25. Bryan Riolo Says:

    Mathew Wedel:

    “At worst it could be said Mr. Bonadonna’s new piece took some inspiration from Mr. Engh’s picture. That’s IT.

    And if so, would it not be proper to credit that inspiration? At what point do we stop calling it inspiration and start calling it something else? I’m legitimately curious here–some people think Bonadonna’s piece owes a lot to Brian’s, others seem to find no important similarities. How do you tell? If someone wrote a paper that similar to one of mine and didn’t cite me, I’d be very upset. Are the rules that different for art?”

    I’m glad to cite my immediate inspirations, Matt, but I have so MANY inspirations otherwise, it would be the length of a small novel for anyone to read. For example, Charles R. Knight, Zdenek Burian, Michael Skrepnik, etc., etc., and so on…for artists. Then there is Big Mama Nature; let us not forget her! Animals, trees, skies,, seas, waves, light, shadow, clouds, people, TV shows, novels, movies, and so on and so on and so on.

    There are rules against plagiarism in art, yes, but I don’t think anything was stolen here.

    Or are we artists going to have to come up with something totally different from anything we’ve ever seen? Or haven’t seen? That would mean anything ever done before is taboo. No Tyrannosaurs, no sauropods, no birds, no landscapes, no seascapes and so on. THAT is what is being implied here.

  26. dobermunk Says:

    Wow. I didn’t know the palaeo-community could suck so badly.

  27. Ontodactylus Says:

    I think Matt’s original post was very reasonable and, even it it spawned disagreement, should definitely not have come in for this much negativity, so here’s my support for what it’s worth.

    The point I think Matt was making (correct me if I’m wrong Matt) is that for the two pictures to have so many specific features in common seems, intuitively, somewhat implausible.

    I agree with this wholeheartedly; of the five similarities Matt described, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if one or two were common to both pictures, maybe even three.

    But all five? It just seems very unlikely to me that Bonadonna didn’t take at least a modicum of inspiration from Engh, and I think some of the commenters have been much too quick to scoff at the idea that the two pictures have remarkably similar content.

  28. Craig Dylke Says:

    I suggest you look at the work of Julius Csotonyi. He does all those sorts of things in his works. I suspect had he been commissioned to do a Spinosaur palaeo-environment you’d get something similar to the Nat Geo only in Csotonyi style…

    The only unique thing in Engh’s piece is the distortion on the foreground Spinosaur’s snout. On his blog Brian Engh has posted his process, which clearly shows how he went about it. THAT I’d agree is clearly his thing. The Nat Geo doesn’t have a hint of this.

    So sorry I’m totally agreeing with artistic convergence. Being a (former) palaeo-artist I can assure you there are only a few basic composition types you can make a clear reconstruction in. This is one of them.

    You can not tell me a Spinosaur biting at a fish is unique. You can not tell me no one else has ever drawn a pair of them.

    Again go look at marine and aquatic environment pieces by Csotonyi, and then tell me that Engh’s Spinosaurs are that radically when compared (apart from his nice snout distortion, props to him there).


  29. Sure, Mike — no-one but Sean, in a comment since rescinded, has called this plagiarism. (That includes Matt: check the original post.) The question here is about inspiration, not direct plagiarism of the rip-off-a-Knight-painting-for-a-1960s-kids-book variety.

    Well, what’s “fishy” about inspiration?

    The original post does not use the word “plagiarism”, but the title hints at some sort of error or wrongdoing (“fishiness”), and the text reads like a prosecutor building a case, stopping just shy of the verdict, inviting the commenters to state it. It has a definite accusatory tone, even if it isn’t explicit.

    And even the case for inspiration is weak. Three of those “similarities” are just facts about the paleoecological community! “Pterosaurs flying way back in the background”? Come on! Probably half of all Mesozoic scenic artwork shows this, and rightly so, because … PTEROSAURS WERE OFTEN FLYING IN THE BACKGROUND. (You want them burrowing in the lake mud, and the turtles flying?)

    I think it’s been pretty well-explained how the cut water/air view is a coincidence. Certainly Brian isn’t the first to use that, even if he may be the first to use it for Spinosaurus. And as for there being two individuals, that’s not even true in the full piece. (But so what if it were?)


  30. Also, Matt’s response to the first comment was not, “Whoa, whoa, I didn’t mean to imply plagiarism! Where’d you get that outlandish idea?”

  31. Craig Dylke Says:

    Also my reason for reacting to this post. This post is making some pretty strong and completely unfounded implications. Not quite accusations, but it might as well be.

    I have to hand it to the Nat Geo artists for reacting as calmly as they have.

  32. Matt Wedel Says:

    Post updated. I was mistaken: it was illustrative convergence. New post coming to show that.

  33. Bryan Riolo Says:

    Okay. For those who are neither artists nor budding artists:

    David’s pic has Spinosaurs.
    Brian’s pic has Spinosaurs.
    Since the subject of both pics is Spinosaurs what else would you expect?

    Spinosaurs ate fish; ipso facto both pics have fish.
    Spino’s ecosystem had turtles, also common in similar modern ecosystems; ipso facto it is reasonable both pics have turtles, even if neither artist knew the other artist and their respective pics existed,

    Fish eye lens effects are beloved by a number of artists, said effects are shown very often in photos. So, it follows, that either artist might want to use them, No need to have even seen each other’s work.

    Pics of predators chasing prey is a very common theme. So both pics showing Spinosaurs chasing fish is to be expected.

    To help show off the warped effects of a fish eye lens, the interface betwixt water and sky would have to be shown. Thus, we have skies in both paintings.

    If you think you can paint a picture of hunting Spinosaurs that are supposed to show the aspects of their lives obviously asked for by the respective customers that have no similarities to other pics, in the manners to which you are referring, please do so. I would love to see the results.

  34. Bryan Riolo Says:

    I am glad to see your update here, Mathew, because artistic convergence happens a lot, as well as straight out blatant thievery. Davide and Brian are both excellent artists. I have no reason to question their integrity at all.


  35. […] the last post I pointed out some similarities between Davide Bonadonna’s new Spinosaurus painting and Brian […]

  36. Tom Says:

    Given the subject & requirements….. Not surprising or to be honest not that similar. Think this is just a storm in a tea cup. Or more to the point. Someone just wanting to stir up trouble. Unpleasant behaviour.

  37. Mike Taylor Says:

    Anonymous “Tom” with the fake email address: if you want to accuse your blog host of “wanting to stir up trouble. Unpleasant behaviour”, I think it would be more courageous to do so under your real name.

  38. brian engh Says:

    Brian Riolo,
    I’ve got several sketches of speculative spinosaur feeding behavior in the works from other angles. I need to send them to a potential client who might be interested in them for an upcoming paper, so depending on what happens with that you may see them sooner or maybe later.

    There are lots and lots of ways to visualize everything in the above image without creating a composition, accidentally or otherwise, where individual elements land in almost exactly the same place relative to the main subjects (the foreground spinosaur feeding at the surface [which by the way doesn’t even make that much sense considering the new bone density evidence]). There is absolutely no good reason why spinosaur illustrations have to already start falling into one of two tropes: wading in a river & pulling out a fish (the one i was trying to get away from) or curvy fish-eye cutaway showing spinos above and below the water. There’s heaps of other equally rad options to explore, especially now that we know they were likely diving.

    Considering that Bonnadonna admits to having seen my work before, I think it’s completely reasonable (and ultimately good for both science and art) to challenge him to be more creative. No doubt that was Matt’s ultimate goal with the initial tone of this post. So unless you’re really more worried about somebody feeling slightly offended on the internet than you are about originality and creativity in art and science, don’t be acting like it was a ridiculous thing for Matt to point out. Like I said before Bonnadonna is very skilled technically, and it would be awesome to see those skills coupled with a creative process that allowed him to consistently come up with new stuff we haven’t seen before.

    Here’s where I think I disagree with most people with regards to paleo art and this particular situation: I don’t think it’s enough to just make a pretty picture that isn’t demonstrably inaccurate. I think we have a responsibility to push paleo art (and art in general) way way way way way way way way way way farther. Even the best paleo art out there is dogshit compared to whatever these animals were actually doing and looking like. Maybe it’s just me, but the more I steep myself in the natural world and soak up the wonder and mystery and vastness of it all, even our most elaborate and brilliant efforts to visualize things we can’t actually imagine seem almost insulting to the universe and the wonders it spills out before us. So when a dude makes something that seems to closely echo some other piece of shit that a random dude already made I just feel like “C’MAWWN!! We’ve fucking seen that shit already!! STEP IT UP!!!”

  39. Craig Dylke Says:

    So Brian Engh,

    I’m sorry so are you then STILL saying their piece is somehow stealing from yours?

    Despite all this posturing of yours, I’m still not accepting or buying this concept that your original Spinosaur was all that original or groundbreaking in and of itself. You just happened to (possibly) be the first palaeo-art to draw Spinosaurus with an underwater camera perspective. You are NOT the first person to ever use this technique in 2D art, and I’d be willing to wager not in palaeoart either. Again refer to the underwater works of Julius Csotonyi (I’m not certain of the dates of all his work, but many of they are of a similar or earlier vintage to your own piece) .

    Instead of still trying all this smack talk, why don’t you go and make these original groundbreaking pieces then, and show us how to STEP IT UP.

    Otherwise you’re sounding incredibly silly. There is a reason most pieces of palaeo-art look very similar. You can only effectively communicate extinct animals from a few simple POW and narrative constructs, before a general audience won’t understand it. And yes I’m including your Spinosaur in this statement. Other then your nice capturing the water distortion on the snout, but I’d hardly say your piece is radically different than other water palaeo pieces.

    Granted I sympathize with your frustrations, that I suspect are fueling your feelings. The palaeo-art community/market is cut throat, and gigs are nearly impossible to come by. I can see why a piece that superficially is similar to your own (but that’s all it is superficially) would cause you to get enraged.

    I’ve given up palaeo-art myself (and I have my work on display in 4 museums these days), and admire you are still trying to bust your way in. However this is not the way to do it. Talking down the work of one of your palaeo-art peers, simply because they got a paying gig and you didn’t.

    I hardly doubt your piece came about with out some inspiration of its own from other people’s work. Even if the Nat Geo guys did look at your Spinosaur, they’ve done an incredible job of making the “concept” (not that you owned or invented the idea of showing a prehistoric animal in its palaeo-environment with its contemporary critters) their own.

  40. Craig Dylke Says:

    Supplemental: I only now just saw the next follow up post with David’s process on his Nat Geo piece.

    I’m super standing by my last comment now!

  41. Bryan Riolo Says:

    Let it be known that, from my experience with Mathew Wedel, he has never tried to stir up trouble just to cause problems. He has made an error here, and he has quite openly rectified it. Davide Bonadonna has spoken his piece and shown us all some gorgeous artwork and graciously let us in on some of his techniques.

    I have nothing but respect for Mathew and Davide. Don’t let an honest error tarnish either one of them.

  42. Bryan Riolo Says:

    Yes.

  43. Craig Dylke Says:

    While I’m thinking about it. This piece by Santino Mazzei, that I feel is a piece of palaeo-art redefines a subsection of the genre. This is a radical technique on the level of being truly unique palaeoart (granted I’m not claiming this is indeed the first time/person/artist to do this. It is just the only example I have ever come upon)

  44. Matt Wedel Says:

    Wow, that Mazzei piece just blew my damn mind. Many thanks for posting!

  45. Andy Farke Says:

    WOW! I get dizzy just looking at it…it’s not often I get such a visceral response form paleoart. Kudos to Mazzei.

  46. brian engh Says:

    Yeah yeah, that one is conceptually next level for sure!

    Also for the record i’m not mad about anything and i’ve always maintained that i never thought plagiarism was going on. i just get really riled up about dinosaurs and want to see more and more done better and better!!! anything incendiary i’ve written has always been with a big dumb smile on my face because i love talkn shit and getting people fired up about paleo art!!!

    with that said, now back to painting.


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