Zooming In

Mosaic Mastermind

Charis Tsevis repurposes John James Audubon’s paintings to create the stunning cover image for Audubon’s climate issue. 


Throughout his career as a visual designer, Charis Tsevis has created award-winning mosaic illustrations for everything from shampoo bottles and sports drinks to art festivals and political campaigns. But using John James Audubon’s The Birds of America as building blocks for a single bird portrait was a difficult task for the veteran illustrator, based in Athens, Greece. “The real challenge was the responsibility of dealing with such precious work from the past,” Tsevis says. “Then you decide to let yourself free and to discover how you can collaborate with the material.”

Tsevis begins his process by illustrating the base composition—in this case, a Golden Eagle. Next, with the help of software, he builds the mosaic by selecting many small images that match the tone, shape, and color of each part of the base. Some famous paintings appear multiple times, while others pop up only once.  “I tried to crop the most colorful parts of [Audubon’s] illustrations to create a composition that would give the sense of hope of the triumph of nature,” Tsevis says. Finally, he retouches the result by hand. “Software can't really understand the important parts of an image, so manual work is very much needed,” he explains.

The artist spent about 60 hours completing the project.  “I had the pleasure to work with this incredibly valuable artistic material,” Tsevis said. “That was an experience on its own.”


Birds at Risk

Explore more birds threatened by climate change around the country.

Allen's Hummingbird
Baird's Sparrow
Bald Eagle
Brown Pelican
Burrowing Owl
Cerulean Warbler
Common Loon
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Golden Eagle
Greater Sage-Grouse
Hooded Oriole
Mississippi Kite
Northern Shoveler
Piping Plover
Ruffed Grouse
Rufous Hummingbird
Spotted Owl
Tundra Swan
White-throated Sparrow
Yellow-billed Magpie

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