Reception Planned for Renowned Bird Artist at Rich's Backyard Birds
River Hills resident John Costin has won dozens of awards for his intaglio prints of native Florida birds.
Rich Crete didn’t know the customer’s name. He only knew the man was a fellow bird lover who frequently visited Crete’s store, Rich’s Backyard Birds, in FishHawk Ranch, to purchase bird seed.
Each time the customer visited, he paid cash for his purchases. Then, a few months ago, the customer paid with a credit card.
“I immediately recognized the name,” said Crete.
That’s because Crete owns several works of bird art signed with that name.
The customer turned out to be renowned Tampa Bay bird artist John Costin, a resident of River Hills.
“I asked him if he’d be interested in selling some of his artwork in my store and, lo and behold, he agreed,” said Crete. “It was a perfect fit.”
To celebrate having Costin’s work in his store, Crete will host a reception for Costin Saturday, Dec. 15 from 2 to 8 p.m. Residents will have an opportunity to meet the artist as well as view 20 originals works by the Costin.
Members of the Eastern Hillsborough County Flute Choir, conducted by Crete’s sister, FishHawk Ranch resident Anne Marie Dresser, will perform from 2 to 4 p.m. as well.
Rich’s Backyard Birds currently has four of Costin’s original works on display as well as a number of lithographs. Costin will bring 15 more of his life-size bird pieces for the reception.
Costin, who has his studio in Ybor City, has accumulated more than 25 awards for his realistic images of birds, including top awards at the Bonita Springs National Art Festival, the Marco Island art show, the Mainsail Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, the Boardwalk Art Festival in Virginia Beach, Va., the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, the St. Stephen’s Art Festival in Miami, the Cherry Creek Art Festival in Denver, the Dunedin Art Harvest, the Disney Festival of the Masters and the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.
His works are on display at The Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Bay History Center, the State Library of Florida, the Tampa Museum of Art and the Polk Museum of Art, among other venues.
A fine arts major at the University of South Florida, Costin became fascinated with intaglio, an engraving technique that was invented in the 1430s in Germany. With intaglio, an image is incised into a surface, typically a copper plate, using an etching needle or similar tool. The plate is then dipped in acid.
The artwork is created by applying ink to the surface of the plate and transferring the image to high-quality rag paper using a rolling press.
Afterward, the printed image is hand painted with oil paints for rich color quality and detail, making each piece unique, said Costin. The entire process takes six to eight weeks.
A longtime Floridian, Costin said he was naturally attracted to the rich and diverse bird life in his home state as a subject for his prints.
“Through my art, I strive to capture and personify birds, enriching the viewers’ perception of this particular form of wildlife, which they may rarely have an opportunity to intimately experience,” said Costin.
“I’m thrilled to be able to offer John’s works to my customers,” said Crete. “His prints make wonderful Christmas gifts and are only $15 for an 8 by 10.”
Rich’s Backyard Birds, 5670 FishHawk Crossing Blvd., Lithia, opened five years ago, providing the community with everything they need to attract birds to their yards and engage in bird-watching activities. In fact, Crete often leads bird-watching expeditions.
For more information, contact Crete at 813-657-BIRD (2473).