Matt is – of course – Matt Wedel, of svpow fame. Good is his in-depth review of Sideshow’s Apatosaurus macquette… but why is this so? I suspect this series will need no introduction, so I’ll just jump into why I appreciate it so much, why it is so helpful to me as a palaeo-illustrator…
- Matt differentiates between author preference and scientific plausibility.
An artistic choice doesn’t need to be interpreted as supporting or rejecting scientific hypothesis, and I love the way Matt accepts things as ‘not the way he would have done it’ but ‘fully plausible’. This relaxed treatment of artistic decisions that might be interpreted as supporting this or that paper / camp / hypothesis is very refreshing.
- He doesn’t excuse personal favorites.
Equally refreshing is the way Matt whole-heartedly takes a stand for personal preference – ie. flamboyant life reconstructions ala Brian Engh. This is not universal among scientists, who are often somewhat too eager to anticipate counter-arguments and dampen claims. Perhaps this is a characteristic of a more established generation of scientists… at any rate, I’m grateful for Matt’s willingness to go out on a limb and enjoy the opinionated views of palaeo-bloggers like the svpow crew, Heinrich Mallison, Darren Naish (ie. cryptozoology), Mark Witten (where’s he been?), Dave Hone, etc…
- He discusses variations.
When discussing the plausibility of a specific feature, Matt offers alternative ideas, discussing their merits and shortcoming. This seems obvious, but I don’t take this for granted. The tone makes the difference – he’s not academically knifing alternative ideas in the back, but rather discussing and presenting his evaluations, including a recognition of personal preference.
The variations allude to how his evaluation would apply to other species of sauropod (ie. neck) or alternative scientific views (neck pose). This lends the review maximum value above and beyond the concrete case-in-hand.
Matt writes very accessibly… moments of fanboy joy flow into the dialog and there they are: passionate and recognizably different than the sinuous flesh of the analytical sections. Different voices signal when he’s being one or the other, and create a pleasing rhythm in the text. Also obvious but not to be overlooked – it’s a good read.
Summary: thanks! This is one of the most useful artist references I’ve encountered!