News from the Ray Troll Universe - Category: Ray Troll in the News

Seattle Times, Pacific NW Magazine Cover Story on “Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline”

In the department of “Hot off the presses”, The Seattle Times just published a Pacific NW Magazine cover story about Ray and Kirk’s “Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline” collaboration, written by Kirk Johnson himself! Read it here: The real Seattle Freeze: ‘Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline’ explores the compelling topography of the Puget Sound landscape.

News from the Ray Troll Universe - Category: Ray Troll in the News

I Am a Herring!

Some say “Mea Culpa”, I get to say “Mea Clupea” or “I am a Herring!”

Italy’s Dr. Giorgio Carnevale has honored me by naming an extinct genus of Eocene “round bellied” herring after me. The paper was published earlier this spring, so I did a small drawing of my extinct fish and sent it to Giorgio in thanks.

 See :


News from the Ray Troll Universe - Category: Ray Troll in the News

Guggenheim Fellowship

On April 6, Kirk Johnson and Ray Troll were awarded a joint Fellowship in the Science Writing category from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to support their book project entitled, Cruisin’ the Eternal Coastline: the Best of the Fossil West from Baja to Barrow. In 2011, Guggenheim fellowships were awarded to 180 scientists, artists, and scholars (there were only two awards in the Science Writing category). The Fellowship will provide Troll and Johnson with $50,000 that will support the completion of their project.Here is a description of their project:

We propose to write and illustrate a book entitled, Cruisin’ the Eternal Coastline: The Best of the Fossil West from Baja to Barrow. This 75,000 word, full-color book will be 204 pages long and will feature 20 paintings, hand-drawn maps for each state, more than 100 small drawings, and over 100 photographs. This book will cover the West Coast, reaching from Baja, California to Barrow, Alaska with a focus on the population-rich areas of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. Our goal is to create a widely distributed book that is accessible to a broad range of audiences and that opens their eyes to the vast span of geologictime and evolutionary history that surrounds them.

This is a collaborative effort that combines the science writing of Kirk Johnson and the art of Ray Troll to create a popular book about the geology and paleontology of the West Coast of North America. Johnson is a geologist, paleontologist, science writer, and the Vice President of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Troll is a fine artist and musician who is widely known in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest for his iconic public art, books, t-shirts, and imagery.

Our previous collaborations have included the award-winning 2007 book, Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway: An Epoch Tale of a Scientist and an Artist on the Ultimate 5,000-mile Paleo Road Trip and its associated hand-drawn Rocky Mountain wall map, as well as museum exhibits, music, and magazine articles. Our collaborative style is colorful, fun, and engaging. We seek to make art and science work together to help our readers grasp the magnitude and significance of the biggest story of all: the evolution of life on our planet.

Kirk and Ray horsing around with Pliocene aged Mega-Scallops from the sediments of San Diego ( Patinopecten healeyi ). These beauties are in the collection at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

News from the Ray Troll Universe - Category: Ray Troll in the News

Rasmuson Award

When I was given the Rasmuson 2011 Distinguished Artist Award they also announced it in the online world of Second Life. Here’s my stylin’ avatar hanging out in the Ray Troll Gallery section.

Ketchikan’s Ray Troll receives 2011 Rasmuson Distinguished Artist Award

press release courtesy of the Rasmuson Foundation

May 18, 2011 – He may be best known for his fishy images on T-shirts, and popular books and publications on aquatic life, but Ketchikan Artist Ray Troll joined an elite group of Alaska artists today by receiving the 2011 Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist Award. Troll is the eighth Alaskan artist to receive the award, which was announced at a morning ceremony in Anchorage. The Distinguished Artist Award recognizes artists with stature, and a history of creative excellence and accomplishments in the arts with $25,000 in unrestricted funds.

“Ray Troll has brought a unique blend of art and science to museums, books, magazines — and even clothing,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “This award recognizes Ray’s long history of creative excellence and accomplishment in the arts worldwide.”

Troll moved to Alaska in 1983 and he operates the Soho Coho Gallery in Ketchikan. His wildly imaginative work combines serious scientific study, a unique artistic esthetic, and a love of cheeseburgers for a style that is unmistakably his own.

He is an Alaskan ambassador to the world. He has mounted four nationally touring exhibits, published six books, and has received dozens of commissions including those from the Smithsonian, Greenpeace, and Tokyo’s Museum of Science and Nature. Most recently, he and science writer Kirk Johnson were awarded a $50,000 joint fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to support a book project Cruisin the Eternal Coastline: The Best of the Fossil West from Baja to Barrow.

Troll has served as art director for the Miami Museum of Science, appeared on the Discovery Channel, lectured at Cornell, Harvard and Yale and has shown work at the Smithsonian. He is a 2006 recipient of the Alaska Governor’s Award for the Arts and won a gold medal for distinction in the natural history arts from the Academy of Natural Sciences in 2007.

About the Individual Artist Awards

In December 2003, the Rasmuson Foundation Board of Directors launched a multi-year initiative to make a significant investment into the arts and cultural resources of the state. Designed with the help from artists and arts organizations from around the state, the initiative prioritized support to practicing artists themselves as a key strategy to ensure Alaska enjoys a vibrant art and culture community.

This is the eighth year of the Individual Artist Awards program, and as of today, the program has awarded 230 grants, totaling $1.7 million dollars, directly to Alaska artists. The purpose of the awards is to allow artists to seek a variety of creative opportunities, including providing them with the time necessary to focus on creative work.

About the Foundation

The Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband, “E.A.” Rasmuson. The Foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans.

News from the Ray Troll Universe - Category: Ray Troll in the News

Crusin’ the Fossil Freeway in the News

Signed Copies now available in the Ray Troll online store.

Listen to our online interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition.

“In Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway, Kirk Johnson and Ray Troll recount their rollicking road-trips through the Rocky Mountain region, and their writing and artwork tell the tale of the fossils, food, and friends they meet along the way. Paging through the book is like being chauffeured by a pair of paleontological prestidigitators across America’s prime fossil real estate.

Kirk’s writing conjures up multiple layers of history from the landscapes they pass through: the ancient environments where sediments accumulated and hardened into rock, the processes that brought these rocks to the surface and shaped the current scenery, and, most of all, the ongoing stories of discoveries made by scientists, collectors, and fossil fanatics throughout this geologic wonderland. Ray’s artwork brings each of these histories to life and mixes them together in a sort of deep-time gumbo: dinosaurs rise from the dead and amble alongside pickup trucks and gas stations, prehistoric mammals pose for portraits, and wide-eyed ichthyosaurs and half-coiled ammonites dreamily float alongside monster movies and cheeseburgers.

Ultimately, Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway is like getting several books in one: geology primer, road-trip travelogue, collection of scientific-surrealist art, and exposé of the “paleonerd” subculture in the American West. If you’ve ever driven down an open highway, looked out at the rocks around you and briefly wondered if there might be dinosaur bones buried there, then you’ll definitely want a copy for your bookshelf.”

Matt Celeskey – Paleo Artist and Chief Curator of the Hairy Museum of Natural History

“ No one- not even the Steven Spielberg- can explain the magic of the Jurassic as cleverly and comprehensively as America’s current Master of the Mesozoic, Kirk Johnson. Now, together with the magnificently eccentric fossil-artist Ray Troll, Kirk reports on a paleontological odyssey that manages to be informative, witty, educational-and enormous fun.”

 Simon Winchester – Author of The Map that Changed the World, Krakatoa, and A Crack in the Edge of the World

“ Johnson relates the stories of the great discoveries in paleontology and peoples them with a rogue’s gallery of parched academics and mercenary treasure hunters. In the end, the reader is holding the strongest, most delightful of texts- an adventure story, a memoir, a handbook, a history, a guide. And a refreshing sense that Earth is resilient and enduring.”

Peter Heller – Contributing editor for Outside and National Geographic Adventure Magazines. Author of Hell or High Water and The Whale Warriors

“ I hereby nominate Ray Troll and Kirk Johnson for the 2007 Monty Python Razzle-Dazzle Paleontology Prize for excellence in communicating the joy of fossil hunting. By the time you finish this book you will know more about dinosaurs, trilobites, and ammonites than you ever wanted to, and you’ll never even realize that you were learning all this great stuff! ”

Richard Ellis – American Museum of Natural History research associate, author of The Empty Ocean

Signed copies of the book can be found in our webstore.

News from the Ray Troll Universe - Category: Ray Troll in the News

Ratfish Wranglers in the News

From The Anchorage Daily News

You got the T-shirt — now plug in the CD
Published: February 24th, 2008 02:00 AM

From The Ketchikan Daily News
March 1st 2008

Also Alec Dickinson with KRBD FM does an audio interview with Ray about the Wranglers


“Troll and his band take over where the B-52s ‘Rock Lobster’ left off in the late 80s/many years ago. Living the artist’s life in Ketchikan, Alaska for 25 years, Troll has swum far below the currents of modern art and music, and surfaced for air with a net full of images and songs about such underwater oddities as the ratfish, the sex life of the salmon and the legendary Bombastodon.Set to a hypnotic beat that pounds like a fishboat diesel, and backed up by a loose-knit set of friends including a champion fiddle player and siren-like back-up singers, his songs reach out to the spirit of the fisherman in all of us!”

Peter Marsh – Freshwater News


Jeff Bown’s  audio interview with Ray about the CD (Jeff is from KTOO, FM Juneau). Click here.






News from the Ray Troll Universe - Category: Ray Troll in the News

Doctor Troll

Capital City Weekly, Juneau, AK, April 30, 2008

Ray Troll: Scholar of Art and Science

By Katie Bausler

Over the past 25-years, Ketchikan artist, naturalist, author, and musician Ray Troll has merged art and science in a way that appeals to just about everyone.

Troll is at the drafting table on the ground floor of his studio overlooking the red roofs of downtown Ketchikan and the slate blue Tongass Narrows. The three story cedar structure is covered with corrugated steel to ward against the wet climate. “You just walked in as the crab was coming to life,” he says. It’s a Wednesday and Troll’s been steeped in an ink on paper work for the better part of the week. “I like to let the art take its time.”

Likely inspired by the recent Alaska Folk Festival appearance of his eclectic and multigenerational (son Patrick is the drummer) band, Ray Troll and the Ratfish Wranglers, the drawing is of a whimsical trio.

“There is a banjo playing mermaid, a rock fish playing bass guitar, I like to call it a bass guitar on the left and there is a humpy salmon, note the humped back there, (got to know your fish), playing an acoustic guitar there on the right,” he says. In the foreground is a Dungeness crab. “That’s not just a harmonica playing crab there. That’s a harmoni-crab.”

Troll’s pun-filled fish art has become Alaskan legend. “‘Spawn Till You Die,’ would probably make a nice epitaph for my tomb stone,” he notes. The well-known scull and cross sockeye salmon design is on t-shirts worn by rock musicians, movie stars and countless summer visitors.

Troll’s murals hang in public spaces and schools from Southeast Alaska to Washington D.C. He’s been commissioned to create a mural for the renovated Novatney building at the University of Alaska Southeast’s Juneau campus. He’ll craft it on the 20 foot tall back wall of his studio. A ladder leads to a second floor office. Crane your neck and look strait up to the ceiling, and there’s the underside of a bed frame suspended between wood beams. “That’s the spawning bed,” he quips.

Troll walks over to a bookcase and picks up a handful of personal journals. They hold sketches and writings documenting his creative process from the time he arrived in the salmon and rain capital with a Master in Fine Arts from the WashingtonSate University in 1981. Stints as a court room artist and on the slime line led to a position teaching art at the UAS Ketchikan campus.

By the late ’80’s his unique creations became a career that keeps evolving as his art becomes more intricate and vibrant. His t-shirts, hats, refrigerator magnets and prints are sold on-line and in K-town at the gallery-store owned by Ray and wife Michelle, Soho Coho.

In 2006, Troll received the Alaska Governor’s Award for Individual Artist. In 2007, he joined John McPhee and Ansel Adams in being a recipient of the Gold Medal for Distinction in Natural History Art from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. He even has a species of fish named after him (Hydrolagus trolli – a species of ratfish).

Troll’s fascination with the origin of life led to the dubious distinction and collaborative efforts with writers and scientists that have resulted in books and exhibits spanning the Amazon to San Francisco. Troll keeps rat fish close at hand in his studio (they are spotted and have rat-like tails), preserved in jars of alcohol.

In the introduction to a 2005 retrospective of Troll’s art, long time friend and collaborator Brad Matsen wrote that one day Troll “should get an honorary Ph.D. acknowledging his role as one of the great science teachers of all time.” At graduation ceremonies in Ketchikan and Juneau this weekend, that vision will be realized. Troll will accept an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the University of Alaska Southeast.

News from the Ray Troll Universe - Category: Ray Troll in the News

Goverenor’s Award for Individual Artist

Daily News Staff Writer

Thank-you speeches normally acknowledge people. But when Ray Troll accepted the Governor’s Award for Individual Artist, he said, “Thanks to the fish for all the inspiration.”

Along with the fish, he said, the artist’s inspiration comes from his family, of course, and the people of Ketchikan. “I had two minutes to thank everybody. That’s almost impossible to do.”

Gov. Murkowski and the First Lady presented the award to Troll Oct. 27 in Anchorage. The award included “a beautiful piece of artwork by (Homer artist) Ron Senungetuk. It’s a carved image of a caribou,” Troll said. The awards ceremony was “jovial” and a very nice evening, he said. He found out he was receiving the award about a month ago when the Alaska State Council on the Arts called him. “It kind of floored me, I didn’t really see it coming. But it was a real delight.
“It’s a real honor in a state like this, with so many talented artists. It’s a really cool thing to be recognized,” Troll said.
Charlotte Fox, executive director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, said, “I think it’s wonderful because I knew a lot about Ray’s work.” She said that she had seen his Sharkabet exhibit in the Anchorage Museum and said it was her favorite. She had also seen his T-shirts and visited his Soho Coho gallery in Ketchikan.
But, she said, “I didn’t know about his community-based things. We kind of look at that, and the primary criteria (to receive the award) is impact on the state and major impact on the community in which they live. Ray has had a statewide impact and it seems he’s really done a lot for the arts in Ketchikan.”
Fox said the arts council blankets the state for nominations in late spring and creates a panel to review them all. The council then sends the nomination to the governor who usually accepts the recommendations.

Troll said he moved to Alaska in 1981 to teach college in Port Clarence. “On a clear day you could see Russia, that was my first experience of Alaska.” After that experience, he moved to Ketchikan in 1983 to be a fish monger for his sister, Kate Troll. “I had a master’s degree in my back pocket and I was looking for something to do,” he said.
Troll said he had a one-track career in art. “I started at the age of four when I picked up a crayon. At age 52 I’m still drawing dinosaurs — I’ve just added fish.”
Locally Troll is known for the Soho Coho Art Gallery, Raven’s Brew Coffee logos, the Kayhi Kings Mural at Ketchikan High School, the Midnight Run Painting at Point Higgins Elementary School and his T-shirts.
Troll is known statewide for his murals, books, exhibits and guest art classes at schools in Sitka, Juneau, Cordova, Homer, Seward and other cities. Troll also had a species of ratfish named in his honor in November 2002. The Hydrolagus trolli was named by ratfish researcher Dominique Didier because they shared a love of fish in general and ratfish specifically.
Victoria Lord, now program associate with the Rasmuson Foundation in Anchorage, nominated Troll for the award. “I’ve probably been nominating him off and on for several years. I recognize that he is a person that is very generous with his time. He promotes not only himself, but other artists as well,” she said.
Lord was director of the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council from 1986 to 1997 and said she saw how much Troll put into the arts community. She said those years were formative for the arts council and Troll helped them open the Main Street Gallery (now the Mainstay Gallery) and begin the first Friday art openings. “He and his wife, Michelle, have been really supportive of other artists. He’s been very inclusive and has had an impact statewide.” She remembered when Troll exhibited Sharkabet in Ketchikan and said she heard children who knew the names of all the sharks from that show. She also said his involvement in Natural History Museums, she said, has helped introduce art into other contexts so people can relate art to other things.
Lord is not the only one who has recognized his work in this area, though. Troll said he will be receiving an award from the Academy of Natural Science in Philadelphia in June for achievement in the natural history arts. “I guess it’s a pretty cool honor and a real privilege to be part of that crowd,” he said. He’ll travel to Philadelphia for the award.
Lord said she nominated him mostly because, “he’s a community person, he’s connected to people and he’s connected people to the arts.”

News from the Ray Troll Universe - Category: Ray Troll in the News

WSU Alumni Magazine Feature

My Washington State University Alumni magazine did an extensive story on my life and art. It even includes a music video!  Check it out!  ….  Ray Troll: A story of fish, fossils, and funky art

News from the Ray Troll Universe - Category: Ray Troll in the News

New Book: Rapture of the Deep

“Alaska artist Troll’s knack for making intricate, playful drawings of all things fishy has led to an empire of books, magazine illustrations, museum shows, gallery displays and decorated t-shirts. This large-sized, full-color volume presents an overview of Troll’s drawings, complete with commentary by the artist. Some of the pieces are amusingly tongue-in-cheek (“Rebel with a Cod,” “Weapons of Bass Destruction,” “The Lucky Fish Gets the Cheeseburger”), while others are beautifully surrealistic. But the most impressive are his grandly composed fish-scapes (“Fishes of the Amazon,” “Bottom Fish of the North Pacific,” “A Ratfish Called Troll”), in which layers of perfectly-detailed fish are arranged into brilliant panoramas. Matsen’s lively introduction provides lots of useful information about Troll’s life and aesthetic leanings, making this a must-have book for any serious fan of the artist.”   –Publisher’s Weekly

Ray is happy to sign and personalize copies… to order the book click here…

Some Sample pages: