John Costin - Bird Artist

Biography and Gallery Exhibit

"I have always been fascinated by birds; their beauty and abililty to fly.  My interest in art began at a very young age; using crayons on the walls in my grandmother's house.  She probably was not too happy about that.  I studied art history and printmaking in college.  Though I started working as an electrician in my early twenties, I knew it was temporary.   I wanted to be an artist.

I am a printmaker.  The process is challenging and I like that.  1-5 copper plates are individually hand wiped with various colors of ink to create an image on paper. Then each piece is meticulously hand colored.  The plates take months to create and many weeks of proofing are done before an acceptable piece is created. It is a combination of drawing, sculpture and painting.  It is the oldest printing process in the world; Rembrandt, Goya and other fine artists were printmakers.  No computers or photography are ever used; each piece is handmade and hand painted and though the editions may range from 1-250, no two pieces are the same.

I consider my work bird portraits.  Most of my subjects are depicted life size. I go out in the field and take hundreds of photos of whatever bird I want to work on.  The photos are taken back to my studio for me to study them and are then put away.  I then draw from memory, creating the backgrounds and posing the subject.  I never use photographs while drawing because I do not want my subjects to look photographic.  That is extremely important to me.  I hope you enjoy it and my work."  John Costin

John has a Fine Arts B.A. degree from USF.  He has exhibited his art throughout Florida and Texas, and he has received numerous awards that are listed on his website,

In the photo, John Costin is at work on his press using one of the copper platest to create the image of the "Black Crowned Night Heron."  This etching takes five plates to create the subject on paper.  It is then meticulously hand colored.

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