Friday, July 13, 2012

Christoph Hoppenbrock

A brief preface, as is to be expected in this era of decreased activity here at the blog. I am very much committed to continuing it, but I expect that its focus will continue to shift. When I was a nine-to-fiver, I found it much easier to be up the latest research. I could spend lunches and breaks writing posts. Though they often betray my status as a novice in paleontological knowledge, this type of post has been very satisfying for me, and writing about hot new taxa is a perennial source of traffic.

As a freelance designer and full-time student though, it's simply not something I can do anymore, so those sort of posts have faded considerably. I feel like it's turning into much more of a paleoart-focused blog than a paleontology blog, and that's just fine with me. I'll keep sharing my work (of which I have loads needing to be photographed). Maybe Marc will even share some of his, if we nudge him persistently enough!

One thing I'd like to do is share more work of more recent artists. One of my greatest regrets was not being conceived a decade or two later, so I could have taken advantage of the social web when young. I'm envious of you whippersnappers who get to grow up with the access to paleontologists and artists that today's web allows. The era of open-access and the participatory web is going to drive scientific discourse, which is a really exciting thing. To that end, I think I could do more here to help give contemporary dinosaur artists a bit more presence online.

Enough navel gazing though, let's look at the illustrations of Christoph Hoppenbrock!

I became aware of Hoppenbrock's work at Flickr. He's a designer and illustrator with an impressive range of work, including wonderfully intricate 3/4 view worlds illustrated for the German Playboy. When I wrote to ask permission to feature him here, he added a disclaimer I have read on his illustrations before. Some of it is a bit out of date; in particular Christoph is hungry to illustrate some feathered theropods and fix the pronation issues in some of his pieces. Those bits aside, his work is certainly worthy of dinosaur lovers' time. And like I told him in my reply back, there are plenty of scaly theropod fans who will appreciate his lizardy compsognathids. When he expressed his mild shame at the outdatedness of some of his work, I told him that to me, what's more important is the unique character and aesthetic of the work; anyone can learn the fundamentals of anatomy, but not everyone has arrived at a style that will invite viewers in. That ability to imbue a work with an inviting narrative - whether subtle or expicit - is a lot harder to teach, and I think he's got that aspect covered. The small body of work he's shared online features a slice of Jurassic life, focusing on his home country's paleontological heritage. Enjoy!

allosaur anurognathus
Anurognathus and Allosaurus

Black Compsognathus
A sleek and colorful Compsognathus

Pterodactylus grandis
Pterodactylus grandis

Compsognathus close up
Inside and outside Compsognathus

some prehistoric croc
A mesozoic croc gets a dinosaur for dinner.

Check out more of Hoppenbrock's work at Flickr and his personal website.


  1. *persistent nudges in Marc's direction*

  2. Beautiful work. And I agree with your last paragraph.

    (I also rather wish I had been conceived a decade later; as much for your reasons as other selfish ones of my own...)

    I still think there is as much palaeontology as palaeo art on the blog, as well as sundry other aspects. I quite like referring to LITC simply as a blog of 'Dinosaur Culture' as an all-emcompassing term (with apologies should this prove disagreeable in any way).

    1. I really like that phrase of "dinosaur culture." I've unfortunately been referred to as a "dinosaur expert" a few times, which I am definitely not (enthusiast is a better word), and I think recasting the blog in this light is a good idea. When I roll out the redesign a new "about the blog" phrase incorporating that would be in order.

  3. I don't know if you've gotten this suggestion before, but one thing I would love to see and which you are uniquely qualified to produce is a database of "classic/cliche dinosaur recons/features/poses" and their original source. So anything that's been copied in more than 10, 20, whatever illustrations, like the leaping Ornitholestes, which comes from Knight (1914) that you could include a copy of, and was inspired by Osborn's (1903) statement that its anatomy "suggest the hypothesis that the animal may have been adapted to the pursuit of the Jurassic birds".

    1. It's something I've considered, but not taken on for time and not knowing what the demand would be. Thanks for suggesting it; I think I'll float this to readers here and folks on FB to see what the demand is and who may be up for helping. With the flickr group, we have the ability to tag the images, but it needs to be a coordinated effort as many of the uploaders don't follow my gentle reminder to cite the publication and tag their scans well. The description and title I can't control, but images can be tagged by users other than the uploader. That would be a start.


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