Illustrators’ biographies

Carl Christian Tofte, illustrator for Birds of Bolivia Field GuideCarl Christian Tofte

Born in 1969, Carl Christian is a Danish artist and bird watcher who has illustrated a number of wildlife guides, including field guides to the birds of prey of Europe, to the birds, plants, and mammals of Greenland, and to the birds of Scandinavia.

Drawing birds has always been an integral part of his bird watching. Drawing makes you aware of how surprisingly little detail you actually perceive and forces you to see things you otherwise would ignore.

Carl Christian’s love for South American nature began early. As a child he would sculpt clay models of hummingbirds such as the Red-tailed Comet, using drawings in his bird books as a blueprint.

Beautiful illustrations by other artists have continuously been a great source of inspiration for him, such as the 17th century Dutch artist Maria Sibylla Merians’ plates from Suriname, showing the metamorphosis of butterflies. He clearly remembers seeing Jon FjeldsÍ¥’s original plates for the book “Birds of the High Andes” for the first time, where the illustration of an ultramarine and cobalt-blue Tit-like Dacnis, perching on an Espeletia, made him realize that he had to travel there soon. So he did, visiting Bolivia, among other countries, for the first time in 1989, the first of several journeys to South America.

After graduating from the Danish Design School in 2000, he sought ways to become involved with South American birds and initiated independent work on a field guide to the birds of the Cerrado region of Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay and eventually came in contact with Asociación Armonía.

From own experience he strongly believes in the power of art and books as advocates of nature conservation, and he considers it important that people all over the world are offered the possibility to get to know and appreciate the nature surrounding them. Apart from plain enjoyment, that is his main reason for specializing in the illustration of South American birds.

Oscar Tintaya, illustrator for the Birds of Bolivia Field GuideOscar Tintaya Quispe

Oscar graduated from Bolivia’s National Academy of Fine Arts in La Paz in 1987. He is the country’s foremost bird artist and also loves to paint a variety of other subjects from landscapes to people to wildlife.

His paintings have been exhibited in Bolivia’s major cities, and some examples can be found at

Julián Quillén Vidoz, illustrator for the Birds of Bolivia Field GuideJulián Quillén Vidoz

Born in Argentina in 1984, Quillén has lived in Bolivia since 2004 and is currently studying biology at the Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Inspired by his father, he started watching and painting birds at an early age.

In 1999 he began carrying out bird inventories and guiding naturalist tours, and from 2007 to 2010 he was part of an international research team studying the migration of the Fork-tailed Flycatcher in South America. He has published 10 research papers on the natural history, distribution, and migration of birds in Bolivia.

His expertise are bird communities of the lowlands (Amazonia, Chaco, Chiquitanía, Pantanal, and Cerrado), but he has also watched birds in several other ecoregions.

Hector Slongo, illustrator for Birds of Bolivia Field GuideHéctor Slongo

Hector was born in Italy and moved to the Argentine countryside at an early age, where he developed a strong passion for wildlife. His particular interest in birds was encouraged by both his parents and friends since he was a child.

Nowadays he is a bird watching guide and leads birding tours throughout Argentina and Bolivia. He has always been interested in painting wildlife, although this is his first formal work as an illustrator for a field guide.

Hector has always been fascinated by passerines, especially those endemic to the Neotropics. Ovenbirds are amongst his favorite families as they represent a real challenge for identification, and because they are a very charismatic group of South America.

Michael Kessler, illustrator for the Birds of Bolivia Field GuideMichael Kessler

Michael was born and raised in Lima, Peru. Inspired by a school teacher, at an early age he became interested in birds, both volunteering at the Natural History Museum in Lima and traveling across Peru in search of rare species.

He then studied biology at the University of GͶttingen, Germany, where his main interests switched to botany, but still with a focus on the Andes. Because of the critical political situation in Peru in the 1980ies, in 1989 he began to conduct his research in Bolivia, a country that he has since come to love and that still remains a focal point of his activities.

Now based at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, Michael currently conducts studies of plant (mainly ferns) and bird diversity across the globe, with a focus on tropical montane forests.

Michael has spent about 2 1/2 years conducting field work in Bolivia, during which he has seen over 1000 bird species and has been involved in the discovery of several new bird taxa.

He further has a life-long passion for painting and one of his dreams as always been to participate in the illustration of a field guide.

Raphael Dutra, illustrator for the Birds of Bolivia Field GuideRaphael Dutra

Raphael is a naturalist who resides in Minas Gerais, Brazil. For most of his life he has been a bird lover, with a special fondness for fruit-eating birds such as tanagers, toucans, manakins, and cotingas.

In 1997 he started his career as a freelance bird artist working with Brazilian ornithologists creating plates for scientific publications, field guides, and illustrations for large corporations.

He spends considerable time in the field searching for the themes and to gain inspiration for his work. He begins creating his plates using field sketches in pencil and composes a background of plants, fruits, and flowers from each species’ natural habitat. To reproduce the colors of birds accurately he studies specimens in museum collections. Afterwards he starts painting his plates in watercolors, gouache, and acrylics, trying to show his feelings when he saw the bird in field. He always tries to show the freshness of his native Brazil in his paintings, and he is committed to the preservation of nature.

Raphael’s work can be seen in many collections in Brazil and at:

Jon Fjeldsͥ

Global ornithologist and conservationist, expert on high Andean birds, illustrator and first author of the classic field guide “Birds of the High Andes”, professor and curator at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen.

In addition Jon has an inordinate fondness for the dangers of field work in tropical regions, from the tiny protozoans that cause Chagas disease to large hippos chasing him down a trail in the African bush.

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