Art Meets Science
Scientific artists or artistic scientists?
By: Austin Montero Instagram: @Atnius
1) Austin, would you say you are an artist first and a scientist second, or a scientist first and an artist second?
Honestly, I do not know which I would be first.
I started drawing from the moment I could use a pencil, but I began to observe the behavior of the animals since I could imitate the sounds of ravens and chickens as a child.
However, my first paintings were sold at age of 14 and my first income as a biologist was obtained when I sold crickets to my friends at the university.
What is certain is that nature has amazed me from two different angles, on one hand, I see lights, details and shadows, but on the other, I see evolutionary processes and neuronal protocols that lead an organism to perform specific behaviors.
2) What led you to pick science as your theme?
When I was 5 years old I wanted to be a veterinarian to work with animals, then at 10, I wanted to be a paleontologist to work with dinosaurs, at 13 I knew that a biologist would do all that, so I decided to become a biologist.
I think the most important thing to definitely choose science, was when I started reading middle school books of astronomy, ethology and biology. I liked it a lot because many of my questions were answered by science.
3) Do you have goals with what you do like educate, inspire, stimulate curiosity, or do you do it for yourself?
Yes, one of my goals at future is to make publicity about the current state of natural resources and show people how they can help us to save species and ecosistems. The way I want to do this is through my paintings and animated documentaries.
4) What aspect of science do you focus on?
I basically focus on animal’s behavior and evolution, which is why I do photography, video and artworks of animals.
However, I like many themes of science, for example, I want to make an artwork related to human behavior since I like neurobiology and anthropology, besides, I'd like to make another one about our planet and the solar system, because I like astronomy.
5)What kind of media do you prefer?
I like painting, drawing, photography and filming.
For painting I use oil. For the drawing, I only use charcoals and pencils mainly the 7B. For photography, I use a Canon 70D camera, tripod and lenses (70-135mm, 18-55mm, 55mm, 55-250mm). For filming a lot of equipment like the Canon 70D camera, Canon Ti5, Gopro, lenses, tripods, underwater case, editing programs, drones, and extensions.
6) Tell me about your favorite piece.
Here are my favorite pieces.
For filming, this is a video documentary I made in 2015
For photography, this is one of my very favorites (in gallery below). I took this photo in 2014 when I was doing my bachelor thesis at Bahía de los Ángeles, Baja California, Mexico. I liked very much because it represents one of the most important things I want to do, which is showing to people that animals are not our enemies. Moreover, from an evolutionary perspective, they are like our cousins.
They can breathe, eat, sleep and feel many emotions like us. Maybe, a lot of people wouldn't believe this, but our brains are more similar than we think and same neurotransmitters are acting in their brains than in ours.
This photo represents that for me, we can live with other animals without hurting them or fear them, after all, we evolved together on the same planet.
... besides, I always wanted to work with prehistoric animals and the whale shark is undoubtedly one of them.
For painting: (featured image).
My dad is used to artworks because he works in an art gallery, so not many artworks impress him. However, when I painted this one, for the first time he stayed behind me for more than two hours watching me painting it. I didn't even realize that he was there until I took a break. When I turned back he was laughing.
On this artwork I used techniques I haven’t used before and I started painting what I wanted instead of what I thought could be saleable. So, with this work, I remembered that my true talent is to see nature in ways that others can’t.
7) Do you sale your art? Do you take commissions? Do you have etsy store, or other social media accounts you show art on? If so how would people contact you to talk about these things?
Science consumes a lot of time, so I have not been able to do many works, but since I trained in filming, I have always received some payment for making a video. About photography, I do it more as a hobby since it is more simple compared to making a documentary or painting. Although I have won prizes, I have not sold them. My paints and draws have been easier to sell, I sold my first works at 14 (a couple of landscapes) and although not every year I have been able to paint, I have accumulated some and there is always someone who buys me. Instagram: @Atnius
8) Where are you from