John was brought up in Berkshire and went to Leighton Park school in Reading. Here he pursued his passion for natural history, with a special interest in birds and insects. Early birding trips took him to the Portland Bird Observatory in Dorset and the north Norfolk marshes. At school John was always very keen on art, but his studies focused on the sciences and consequently he studied veterinary science at Liverpool University.
After leaving university John started to focus on his art again and by chance, while travelling in Borneo, landed himself a small illustration project painting the birds of Mount Kinabalu. This led onto other projects including ‘Field guide to the birds of East Africa’, a project that took five and half years to complete, as well as ‘Birds of the Middle East’.
In 1992 he won the prestigious ‘Bird illustrator of the year’ award (British Birds) and in 2002 he won the Swarovski ‘Bird artist of the year’ title. In 2009 he won the frozen plant category of the BBC wildlife magazine ‘Artist of the year’.
John is always keen to see and study as many of the birds he illustrates and paints as possible and consequently has spent a lot of time researching birds in the field. He has travelled extensively in South East Asia, Borneo, Africa, Madagascar and the Middle East. Currently he is planning a trip to West Papua to paint Birds of Paradise as well as the stunning Birdwing butterflies that grace the region.
John first visited Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in 2002 when he went to Antarctica from Cape Town, onboard the SA Agulhas, via Prince Edward and Marion Islands. This was a truly remarkable trip seeing huge icebergs, high seas and many seabirds including albatrosses, petrels and penguins. Since then he has frequently visited the region, working on cruise ships as ornithologist, lecturer and artist in residence, as well as travelling as a passenger.
John lives on the edge of Haldon forest in Devon with his wife Fay and two boys, Tom and James. He still works as a vet, working part time at a small animal practice in Exeter. In his spare time he goes birding and camping in the South West of England and Wales with his family.