Illustrator enjoys capturing the natural world
By Rachel Weaver
Published: Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
When choosing a career path, Mark Klingler was torn between his two very different loves: art and nature.
Fortunately, he found a profession that's allowed him to do both. Klingler, a scientific illustrator for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, creates images for research publications, lectures, media and international exhibits.
“I try to depict them in a manner that tells a story that engages you somehow,” says Klingler of Lower Burrell.
Klingler, the son of a landscaper father and florist mother, grew up in New Jersey. His parents had 11 children, and Klingler's family played an important role in his love of nature. A few brothers practiced taxidermy as a hobby, and one also raised butterflies.
“I was enamored with that,” Klingler says.
Then, a 50-cent purchase led to a lifetime love. His brother bought a field guide to butterflies and moths. Klingler spent hours poring over the material, learning all that he could, and replicating images in his drawings. He went on to study graphic design at Carnegie Mellon University, then received a master's in arts management also at CMU. He also holds a post-baccalaureate certificate from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in painting and sculpting.
“I chose art because it is a gift,” he says. “I wanted to develop that and see what happens.”
Today, Klingler raises butterflies and moths with his daughter, and creates informational booklets on moths with his wife, Cathy, who also works at the museum.
When drawing a “critter,” as Klingler likes to call his subjects, he pays particular attention to each organism's facial features and posture.
“People connect with the eye,” he says.
If he doesn't have a specimen, he relies on photographs or online images. Sometimes, he'll build small sculptures to help him capture angles. Drawings can take many hours, depending on their complexity.
In addition to his work at the museum, Klingler does freelance work for scientific publications. His latest venture for Johns Hopkins University Press, “Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, D.C.” by Howard Youth, will debut in April. The book features 100 illustrations of plant and animal species found around the D.C. area. Klingler also illustrated 2007's “Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City.”
Youth describes Klingler's style as “vibrant.”
“His combination of accuracy and colors brings the subjects to life,” Youth says. “His work very much complements what we're trying to do with the text. The end product is something unique.”
Klingler can find inspiration anywhere. One picture in the guide depicts a wood duck, based on a memory Klingler has of watching one on a creek. The idea for its setting in the water came from a photograph Klingler took of fall trees reflecting on a parking-lot puddle.
Klingler also hopes to generate enthusiasm for his field. He teaches classes and gives lectures on his work around the region.
“I hope to inform people about the critters and scientific illustration and, hopefully, inspire them somehow,” he says.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.