CREATORS – Franz Anthony

In ALL, CREATORS by McKenzie Prillaman

Name: Franz Anthony

Which came first in your life, the science or the art?

I’ve been drawing animals for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of reading picture books of dinosaurs and drawing all sorts of marine creatures. They kinda happened hand-in-hand. As an adult, I did graphic design for my bachelor’s degree and art for my master’s degree. I only managed to reconcile my interests in the past few years.

“Some of my earliest memories are of reading picture books of dinosaurs and drawing all sorts of marine creatures.”

Franz Anthony
On the left panel, there are marine organisms merged together in various shades of cool colors. On the right, there are birds, insects, and geometric shapes in shades of black and white.
Luminescence Iridescence (2015) by Franz Anthony, an experiment in illustrating animal colouration
Profile of four different fish stacked from top to bottom.
Freshwater Fishes (2017) by Franz Anthony, some of the 78 illustrations published in the Indonesian book Ikan Air Tawar di Ekosistem Bukit Tigapuluh (“Freshwater Fishes of the Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem“)
Blue-green image of a pensive elephant with its body connected to the rainforest.
Iconolatry (2015) by Franz Anthony, personal illustration showing an elephant’s role as an umbrella species in rainforest conservation and the rest of the forgotten ecosystem the elephant carries on its back

Which sciences relate to your art practice?

My primary interest is zoology, though I’ve since branched out to other related things, like plants and extinct animals. I guess I’ve always been interested in all the shapes and colours…in nature and how they interact with one another in the ecological sense.

What materials do you use to create your artworks?

I move a lot, about once a year or so. I’ve learned to do things strictly digitally, specifically with Adobe Photoshop and a drawing tablet, so I don’t have to lug around art materials whenever I move. In the past few years, I’ve gotten a bit more into macro photography. But for now, it’s more of a way to supplement my drawings with reference images than producing artistic photographs.

Dunkleosteus, an armored fish that lived in the Devonian Period over 360 million years ago
SciFri (2019) by Franz Anthony, Dunkleosteus, an armored fish that lived in the Devonian Period over 360 million years ago, illustrated for a Science Friday article about mass extinctions throughout the earth’s history
Illustration of a pajama squid
Pajama Squid (2019) by Franz Anthony, one of the eight illustrations of cephalopods done to promote Science Friday’s #CephalopodWeek in 2019

Artwork/Exhibition you are most proud of:

In 2019, I was commissioned by Scientific American to do a cover for their magazine about the Ediacaran biota. It’s such a relatively under-celebrated group of prehistoric organisms—among the first multicellular lifeforms.

Scientific American magazine cover featuring the earliest multicellular lifeforms in the Ediacaran biota
SciAm Cover (2019) by Franz Anthony, cover design for the June 2019 edition of Scientific American featuring the earliest multicellular lifeforms in the Ediacaran biota

In the same year, I was also a nominee for The Association of Illustrators (AOI) World Illustration Awards for the “research” category. My piece was more technical than the other nominees’ works in the category, so I was happy that my artwork managed to reach an audience that doesn’t normally interact with science on a daily basis.

“I was happy that my artwork managed to reach an audience that doesn’t normally interact with science on a daily basis.”

Franz Anthony
Multiple cephalopods that are numbered with a key to their names at the bottom
Cephalopod Plate (2018) by Franz Anthony, an assortment of fossil cephalopods for EarthArchives.org, nominated for The Association of Illustrators (AOI) World Illustration Awards 2019 in the “research” category

Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?

This is a tricky question. A lot of my inspiration sources aren’t directly related to what I do. I’m in awe of intricate details as seen in Azuma Makoto’s floral installations, Victo Ngai’s illustrations, and Keliki-style Balinese paintings.

On the other hand, I could spend hours in well-designed natural history museums just appreciating how they present the specimens and information to the audience, from the specimen containers to the typography of the labels. My favorite museums so far are the National Museum of Nature and Science and Intermediatheque, both located in Tokyo, Japan, and the Melbourne Museum in Melbourne, Australia.

“I could spend hours in well-designed natural history museums just appreciating how they present the specimens and information to the audience”

Franz Anthony
A-Z of Funny Dead Things magazine cover on top with a close-up of an illustration beneath
A-Z of Funny Dead Things (2016) by Franz Anthony, a self-produced zine about various fossil organisms
Three-panel piece with a phoenix-type creature on the left, legless brown crocodiles in the center, and a whale-like creature on the right. Below each imaginary animal is its name and a description.
Thesauria (2016) by Franz Anthony, a triptych featuring fictional yet plausible animals inspired by words and their meanings, created for an art exhibition in Newcastle, Australia

For more by Franz Anthony, visit his website, Twitter, or Instagram.

Share this Post

About the Author
McKenzie Prillaman

McKenzie Prillaman

McKenzie is a fledgling science communicator working at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She has a background in neuroscience, and was a research assistant at the University of Virginia and a postbaccalaureate fellow at the National Institutes of Health. After years of thinking she’d become a neuroscience researcher, she discovered her passion for sharing science with others. That finding, in combination with her lifelong dabbling in the arts, led her to write for Art the Science's blog. In her free time, she can be found volunteering with the Smithsonian Associates studio arts classes, trying new foods, and wandering around her home of Washington, D.C. Twitter: @meprillaman