Joseph Tomelleri gave a presentation on his fish illustrations at Benedictine College on Oct. 29, 2019. Tomelleri spoke about the process in which he illustrates his fish, describing the artistic and scientific methods behind his creative process. 

Tomelleri has been illustrating fish since 1985, with his work appearing in over 1000 publications. Some of these publications include Trout and Salmon of North America, Fishes of Alabama, Eddie Bauer and has even been featured on cans of Busch Light.  

Tomelleri is currently working on a project with Truchas Mexicanas, a binational project that is focusing on collecting data and specimens of the diverse trout species in Mexico. However, Tomelleri’s successful work started and continues with the basics of art.

Based on advice from an art store in Kansas City, Tomelleri has used colored pencils for his illustrations since.

“He suggested I try Prismacolor color pencil because they’re kind of soft and they can blend together, so I bought them from him and have been using them ever since,” Tomelleri said in his presentation. 

Tomelleri typically does not draw fish in the original size. When he resizes them, he has to be careful that he does not mess up the anatomy of the fish such as the size, number, and placement of the scales.  

What Tomelleri most enjoys about his illustrations is what they all come together to be. 

Everyone I draw seems like a part of a collection, a part of a puzzle,” Tomelleri said.