A brief personal history



illustration of fernleaf BioDURING PAUL’S FORMATIVE YEARS in St. Paul, Minnesota, he often found himself in his father’s plant pathology lab. While young Paul found science intriguing, he wondered how long he’d be washing test tubes and inocu­lating bean seedlings with fungal spores.

A little later, when Paul took a break from art school to visit his family’s cabin in the woods, he had a break­through. Picking a simple fern leaf, he stared at it long and hard. Naturally, he began to draw it. It was surpris­ingly diffi­cult. But Paul was blown away by its complex geometry and profound beauty.

Ever since then, Paul has been devoted to rendering the intri­ca­cies of the natural and human world, finding in his subjects both scien­tific interest and aesthetic appeal. Today, he’s lost count of the number of children’s picture books and pop-ups he’s completed since starting his own illus­tra­tion and design business in 1990. His illus­tra­tions and designs have also appeared in numerous adult books, exhibits, magazines, and adver­tise­ments of all kinds, as well as on products and product labels. Whether he’s painting a rare desert cactus or a scrump­tious-looking candy bar, his work is always accurate, well researched, and realistic—and it has lots of person­ality, too.

Although Paul has a lifetime of experi­ence with old-school drafting and drawing methods, by now he’s abandoned his railroad pen in favor of Bezier curves, and the old waxer machine for the type tool. If you can’t tell whether the paint­brush he used was digital or sable hair, he figures his work is successful. These days, a classi­cally trained and computer-savvy artist is pretty hard to find.

Paul lives in Tucson with his wife, Stina, two artist daugh­ters, Anna and Claire, and baby Leo, surrounded by the Sonoran Desert—which inspires his art and spawns his dreams. He is artist-in-residence at the UA’s Tumamoc Hill, a desert research preserve and histor­ical landmark.  Besides working as an illus­trator, he exhibits his photog­raphy, drawings, and prints.

He still has that fern drawing stashed away somewhere. (It’s not for sale.)

 —Anna Mirocha