Redlin’s interest in the out-of-doors can be traced to his childhood in Watertown, South Dakota. A motorcycle accident ended his dream of becoming a forest ranger, and he opted to pursue a career in the graphic arts. He earned a degree from the St. Paul School of Associated Arts and spent 25 years working in commercial art as layout artist, graphic designer, illustrator and art director. In his leisure time he researched wildlife subjects and settings.
In 1977, at the age of 40, Redlin burst onto the wildlife scene when his painting, “Winter Snows” appeared on the cover of The Farmer magazine. By 1979, demand for his work had become so great that he left his art-directing career to concentrate on painting wildlife.
Since then, Redlin’s meteoric rise has been unparalleled in the filed of contemporary wildlife art. In 1981 and 1984, he won the Minnesota Duck Stamp competition, and in 1982, the Minnesota Troup Stamp contest. He also placed second that year in the Federal Duck Stamp Competition. He has been honored as Artist of the Year for Ducks Unlimited (National and Minnesota) and as Conservationist of the Year-Magnum Donor by the Minnesota Waterfowl Association for his gifts of entire print editions. The National Association of Limited Edition Dealers has three times presented him with the “Lithograph of the Year” award for excellence in the medium.
In 1985, Redlin added an entirely new artistic direction, limited edition collector plates. To date, he has released more than 30 editions, many of which are now available only on the secondary market. In addition to fine art and collector plates, Redlin’s images also appear in a variety of collectibles and decorative accessories. Cabins, homes and church sculptures adopted from some of his most popular art prints join music and keepsake boxes, steins and ornaments in collectors’ displays.
In 1987, Redlin began exploring his interest in Americana subjects and nostalgic scenes of yesteryear, painting several images for his American Memories and Country Doctor Collections. Since then his annual Christmas prints have attracted thousands of collectors from coast to coast.
In 1992, he completed his ambitious work, the America the Beautiful series, depicting each line in the first stanza of “America the Beautiful.” All eight, which depict American life from the settling of the west to the present day, were released as limited edition prints over a three- year period, ending in January, 1995. The series has been showcased in art and consumer magazines nationwide. “Terry Redlin Paints America the Beautiful,” a video presentation produced by Wild Wings, earned a coveted Telly Award in the 1993 national competition.
Redlin’s immense popularity can also be measured by the success of his books, “Opening Windows to the Wild, The Art of Terry Redlin,” released in 1987, and “Master of Memories,” issued ten years later. A critical as well as a commercial success, Redlin’s first book was a Certificate of Merit winner at the prestigious Printing Industries of America competition in 1988. Sales of “Master of Memories” have already introduced thousands to Redlin’s world.
Redlin derives the most satisfaction from his conservation work. Over the 17-year period from 1981-97, his donations to Ducks Unlimited raised more than $30 million, setting an all-time record in art sales for wetland preservation projects. By his own estimate, he has donated several million dollars in art to other nonprofit conservation organizations.
He was recently honored by the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, by having a school named in his honor. Terry Redlin Elementary School opened in the Fall of 1998.
Redlin’s most compelling project was the construction of a museum to house his original art in Watertown, South Dakota where he now resides. The museum, which also includes a state tourism office, Digistar theater and state of the art teleconferencing center, opened in June 1997. Over 750,000 visitors toured the Redlin Art Center in its first 18 months and in July 2000 the Redlin Art Center welcomed its one-millionth visitor. The artist donated the $10 million museum to the state in appreciation for an art scholarship he received after graduating from high school in Watertown.