Amateur naturalist John Muir Laws painted all 2,800 illustrations for the The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada. The Los Angeles Times has a profile of Laws and his remarkable book.
There is also something sweet and obsessive, and marvelously 19th century about the whole enterprise, the idea of a lone amateur, now 41 years old (living in a rented $600 apartment in San Francisco), spending season after season tramping around the mountains, painting mushrooms and moles. "The pages and pages of bugs, flies, beetles," says Malcolm Margolin, founder of Heyday Books in Berkeley, the nonprofit publisher of the field guide. Margolin says he may not be able to "tell one from another, but isn't it wondrous that they're out there? Isn't that marvelous?"Link
"I'm a beauty junkie," he adds. "And this book was done by somebody who is stunned by the beauty of the world."
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.