Scholastic News
Learn More:
The Wildlife Artist

See All Special Reports
The Wildlife Artist
By Genet Berhane

Teen artist Dylan Scott Pierce captures the spirit of wild animals in his art. To see some of Dylan's work, check out the slide show.
(Photo: Dylan Scott Pierce)

Most people dream about what they want to be when they grow up.  For 17-year-old Dylan Scott Pierce, his dream became a reality before he even reached his 10th birthday.  He´s a wildlife artist, and what began as a talent has turned into a full career.

Sure, Dylan may look like your average teenager, but things aren´t always the way they seem.  For nearly 10 years now, Dylan has been focused on capturing the spirit of animals in his watercolor paintings.  Some have sold for as much as $20,000.

As a toddler, Dylan always enjoyed drawing, concentrating on sketches of lions and dinosaurs.

"He would look at them until he ´saw´ something in them" said Sandy Pierce, his mom.

In 1996, Dylan finished his first commissioned portraits.  That same year, he also took home first place in the children´s category of the Atlanta Arts Festival—and he was just 9 years old!  By the age of 10, Dylan was traveling around the country with his mom, entering his work in grown-up art shows around the country.

"I think we all have talents," Dylan said, "but I was lucky enough to discover mine at a really young age."

Because of his busy schedule, Dylan is home-schooled by his mom, but there´s always time for one of his favorite hobbies—photography. Dylan´s art actually starts with the pictures he takes, and he´ll spend us much time as it takes to get the perfect photo.

"I want the photos to have the right composition and lighting," Dylan explained,  "and to show aspects of the animal´s personality."

Wild About Animals

"I´ve always loved animals," Dylan said.  "They are unbelievably interesting to paint because they have so much personality.  As I observe them, I can almost see what they´re thinking."

Dylan´s passion for animals has allowed him to get upclose and personal with all kinds of creatures.  He has visited zoos all around the U.S., and he’s no stranger to visiting the animals behind the scenes.  Dylan began painting marine life after a special tour of Sea World, where he didn´t just observe the creatures, he swam with them!

With so many adventures, it’s hard for Dylan to pick the most exciting part of his travels—but nothing tops going on safari in Africa.  He has had the chance to travel to several countries in Africa, observing animals at home in the wild.  During his travels he was threatened by an elephant, he woke up to sounds of baboons shouting on his roof, and he saw a lioness with her cubs just after they had captured their food.  All of his experiences in Africa help him to do a better job of capturing these animals in his artwork. 

Developing Talent

"I understand how precious a gift like this is," Dylan says, "and I try to keep getting better, taking my artwork further, so I can reach my potential."

As he travels, Dylan meets plenty of kids who are interested in art and his work. He even has advice for those who think that they want to become artists.

“The most important thing is just to do what you love,” he said, “and don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t do it.”

Read more about Dylan´s journey into Africa.