Nature has been a large part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Northern Illinois camping and hiking with my field guides and learning about the natural world around me. I would visit a local forest preserve with shelves covered in natural items found on the property with a sign that simply read “Please Touch”. With things like hornets and birds nests, rocks, fossils, bones, skulls, and feathers covering the shelves I was completely fascinated and so began a collection like it for myself.
I spent most of my time outside growing up but when indoors I was reading about dinosaurs and mythical creatures or watching monster movies and caring for my terrarium. This eventually lead my family and I to open a pet shop in 2002. Over the next two years I learned much more about species from all over the world with a particular interest in exotic reptiles, arthropods, and fish. I was passionate about this work but sadly I was forced to close its doors in 2004.
I remained a hobbyist working with my own elaborate terrariums, studying local flora and fauna, and eventually becoming interested in nature photography. While out hiking in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin I would always bring a camera with me and could not wait to learn more about the things I photographed. It brought back that same wonderment I had as a child and along the way I was still collecting bones and skulls which began to pile up.
From there the rest happened on its own. One day in 2011, I sat down with a couple of friends and poured containers of found bones all over the table. With glue, drills and wire we began to play around with the possibilities. Soon after people began to comment on these bizarre sculptures around my home and encouraged me to pursue it further.
Not long after some unfortunate events left me unemployed. Around that time a friend hosting a gallery for a local art event invited me to show my work in their cafe. As the event approached I admit I was still not taking it seriously but I did manage to put together a couple of new pieces for display. The positive reaction from there drove me to continue on this path using my passion for nature and horror to make pieces that were hopefully different from what people typically see.
I could cite a long list of artists that inspire my work like Ray Harryhausen, Stan Winston, HR Giger, Clive Barker, and Gustave Dore, to name a few. I have always enjoyed following the discovery of new species extinct or otherwise and even the unusual world of cryptozoology. Nothing inspires me more than the seemingly endless amounts of wildlife that has continued to drive me my entire life.
Since 2012, I am Forgotten Boneyard full-time. I traveled for the first two years showing my work at horror conventions and other events all over the country, only to receive more encouragement to keep going. Through trial and error I’ve learned to process bones from roadkill and many other methods of preservation, working with my great friend Jana Miller of Bonelust fame. In late 2013, I moved to the deep country of Florida’s Nature Coast and began selling my art and curiosities online early the following year. Now in 2022 I have gone back to my roots in Rockford, Illinois and set up a studio alongside other artists including Sarah Thistle of Scavenged Parts. The online business is thriving, and I am still traveling to dozens of events every year. I love what I do and hope to continue down this path for years to come.