Jan Wilczur is a bird artist/illustrator living in South-west London. He has worked as a bird illustrator for nearly 30 years contributing to various field guides, reference books, magazines, bird reports and travel company brochures. In recent years he has been producing paintings specialising in pictures of landscapes with birds.
I have been an inveterate artist since childhood, so when I developed an interest in birds in my late teens I soon began to draw them. Inspired by the publication of Tunnicliffe’s sketchbooks and the first few volumes of Lars Jonsson’s Birds of Europe, I then began sketching in the field and painting. As an avid birder I became aware of birdwatchers contributing drawings to bird reports and magazines such as British Birds– which also organized the Bird Illustrator of the Year competition. I began submitting illustrations myself and entered the competition achieving a third place and a new telescope! Subsequently, over many years, I contributed numerous black and white illustrations to bird reports, magazines, tour company brochures and books.
It was not until I was commissioned to work on a major book- illustrating identification plates for Birds of the Indian Subcontinent– that I gave up my “proper” job to become a full-time illustrator. Since then I have contributed to several books including ten volumes of Handbook of the Birds of the World; Birds of the Western Palearctic, concise edition; Birds of South-east Asia; A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil; A Field Guide to the Birds of Armenia; Cuckoos of the World and Thrushes.
I live in Putney, south-west London, with my wife and family and have birded in this area most of my life. I have also visited many locations in the U.K. and a few around the world in pursuit of birds. Family life has limited traveling so I have become more involved in studying my local birds. I have conducted surveys, written and illustrated papers and bird reports on my local patches of Richmond Park and the London Wetland Centre.
Working as a full-time bird illustrator did not allow much time to indulge in painting. In recent years, however, I have done so, finally exploiting my many field-sketches of birds and thousands of photographs of backgrounds and landscapes. I have always taken an interest in the habitats and landscapes that birds occupy and have tried to give them as much attention as the birds themselves in my artwork.