Richard Ellis Biography (from 2002; updated 2003)

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RICHARD ELLIS is currently recognized as the foremost painter of marine natural
history subjects in America. His paintings of whales have appeared in Audubon, National Wildlife, Australian Geographic, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and numerous other national and international publications. His shark paintings have been featured in Sports Afield, Audubon, Sport Diver, Nautical Quarterly, Reader's Digest, and of course his own book of sharks, now in its seventh printing, and called the most popular book on sharks ever written. He has been asked to advise on many museum installations, and in 1978, he completed a 35-foot long whale mural for the Denver Museum of Natural History. His paintings have been exhibited at one-man and group shows from coast to coast. One hundred and six of his paintings were selected by the Smithsonian Institution to form a traveling exhibit of the marine mammals of the world, and these paintings are now in the permanent collection of Whaleworld, a museum in Albany, Western Australia.

In addition to painting, Mr. Ellis is the author of more than eighty magazine articles, which have appeared in such journals as Geo, Audubon, Natural History, Animal Kingdom, Curator, Smithsonian, Science Digest, and National Geographic. He has been the subject of cover stories in American Artist, Ocean Realm, Yale's Discovery magazine, and his alumni magazine, the Pennsylvania Gazette. He has appeared in numerous television specials, and has written screenplays on whales for PBS. His research has taken him to Quebec, Baja California, Newfoundland, Hawaii, Bermuda, Nantucket, the Azores, Alaska, Patagonia, Japan, South Africa, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, the Faroes, the Galapagos, the Falklands, the Antarctic, Spitsbergen and the North Pole.

Mr. Ellis is a special adviser to the American Cetacean Society, a member of the Explorers Club, and a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. From 1980 to 1990, he was a member of the U.S. delegation to the International Whaling Commission. Upon the 1980 publication of the book of whales, he embarked on a national lecture tour, which took him from Boston to Hawaii. dolphins and porpoises, the second volume of his comprehensive work on the cetaceans of the world, was published to universal critical acclaim in 1982. As of September 1986, he completed a 100-foot-long mural of Moby Dick for the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts, and in April of 1987, his illustrations of the seals and sea lions of the world were published by the National Geographic.

In 1991, he published great white shark, co-authored by John McCosker, (Stanford University Press), and men and whales, published by Knopf. In 1993, he wrote and illustrated physty, his first children's book, the story of the successful rescue of a baby sperm whale. monsters of the sea was published in the fall of 1994, and deep atlantic appeared in 1996. Imagining Atlantis was published in July, 1998, with front page reviews in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times book reviews, and The Search for the Giant Squidappeared in October, 1998. A second mural for New Bedford, blue whale and dolphins, was installed in September, 2000. His Encyclopedia of the Sea was published by Knopf in October, 2000, and in 2001 Viking published Aquagenesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea.

In March, 2003, Island Press published The Empty Ocean, the sad story of the depletion of the world's marine resources, including fishes, sharks, whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, sea otters, sea cows, and coral reefs. He then published Sea Dragons: Predators of Prehistoric Oceans (University Press of Kansas), a study of the extinct marine reptiles; and in the fall of 2004, HarperCollins published No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. In 2005, temporarily out of the water, Ellis wrote Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn: The Destruction of Wildlife for Traditional Chinese Medicine, and in 2006, Lyons Press published Singing Whales and Flying Squid: The Discovery of Marine Life. In 2008, Knopf published Tuna: A Love Story, and in 2009, will publish On Thin Ice: The Polar Bear and Global Warming. Also in 2009, Harry Abrams will publish Big Fish, a collection of Ellis's paintings. His books have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Korean. He is currently serving as co-curator of Mythic Creatures for the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Reprinted with permission

Read's 2/3/02 interview with Richard Ellis
Original publish date
Aug 20, 2002
About the Author
Tony converted into an octopus and cephalopod interest site in May 2000. (Find out more about how TONMO started by reading this blog entry.) He began his career in the online services industry in 1992, working for companies such as Prodigy,, Reuters and Comcast. Tony and his wife Tania are the owners of Deep Intuition, LLC, which is an entity they created to support their entrepreneurial hobbies and pursuits. He graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a B.A. in Mass Communication and lives in Pennsylvania.


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