Justin Gibbens

Forty-some odd years ago when Justin Gibbens first began moving pencil on paper he was rendering the boyhood standards: dinosaurs, creepy crawlers and other freakish fauna. Not much has changed in four+ decades. Gibbens was trained in both scientific illustration and traditional Chinese painting–a skill set that he employs in his subversive zoological watercolor drawings. Working from both real life specimens and natural history sources, his embellished images celebrate the beauty and strangeness of the world that surrounds us, blending hard and fast science with myth and imagination. Gibbens’ stylized and embellished beasts speak of evolution, mutation and biodiversity, and perhaps serve as cautionary tales and stand-ins for our anthropocentric selves. And in a time when attention spans are fleeting and our experience of nature is becoming more and more mediated, Gibbens finds that the representation of nature by way of watercolor pigments and brush to be a worthwhile activity. As Gibbens sees it, our world is mysteriously fascinating and amazingly weird, and humankind’s relationship to the animal kingdom is layered, complex and ambiguous, and it is through his work that he explores this. Justin Gibbens received his BA in painting from Central Washington University in 1998 and a Scientific Illustration Certificate from University of Washington in 2003. He is a founding member of PUNCH Projects, a central Washington-based artist collective. Gibbens was the recipient of a 2006 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award, a 2008 Artist Trust Fellowship Award and most recently, a McMillen Foundation MAC Fellowship. He is represented by G. Gibson Projects in Seattle, WA and Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, OR. His work has been collected by Grinnell College, Microsoft, 4Culture/King County, the City of Seattle, the City of Kent, the City of Shoreline, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the Portland Art Museum, the Tacoma Art Museum and ArtsWA. In addition to his studio practice, Gibbens paints large-scale murals with fellow artist Will Bow. Gibbens lives in rural Thorp, Washington with his dangerously talented wife Renee Adams.


watercolor, ink, gold leaf on panel, 16 x 16 inches

watercolor, ink on paper mounted on panel, 48 x 36 inches

False Prophet i.
watercolor, ink on panel, 48 x 60 inches