Tell was born in London and spent much of his early childhood seeking out what little wildlife the city streets could offer a young boy with a passion for natural history. When his family moved to Buckinghamshire he was in his element and spent every spare moment wandering the fields and woodlands of the surrounding countryside. On one such ramble, at the age of ten, he discovered a colony of European Vipers and his fate was sealed. From that day onwards reptiles have held a deep fascination for him and he has traveled the world to study them.
He was a founder member of the International Herpetological Society, back in the 1960's, and has recently served as its President. In the 1960’s he also assisted with fieldwork used to gain legal protection for Britain's most endangered amphibians and reptiles.
As a teenager, he worked in British zoos, training and flying birds of prey, before traveling, overland, through Europe and Asia, to Australia, catching and painting amphibians and reptiles along the way.
As a child he had been intrigued by the portfolios of paintings brought back by early explorers and naturalists, full of wonderfully exotic animals and plants. This influence can still be seen in his work. Without field guides to rely on, he sent batches of notes, sketches and watercolor paintings, of the reptiles and other creatures that he'd discovered, back home to England for colleagues to identify.
He lived in Australia for a year, traveling extensively throughout the country, and has returned on several occasions since, to study its wildlife.
Tell gives talks to reptile groups, and natural history societies, about his artwork, field trips and travels to such places as Turkey, Cyprus, Canary Islands, Australia, New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands and the USA.
Despite being completely self-taught, he has won many major awards within the screen printing industry, for his t-shirt designs. He has been runner-up 'Wildlife Artist of the Year' in the UK and still produces work for Eco and other leading t-shirt printers, in the USA and Britain.
To achieve the realist representation that he was after, he developed new techniques in egg-temper painting, a very ancient medium, which requires much discipline in its application. In recent years he has successfully employed these techniques with oil paints on canvas.
His passion for wildlife has led him to specialize in painting these subjects, but Tell also enjoys painting human portraits, and some of his other commissioned works include mosaics and sculptures. One such commission is of a fifteen-foot sculpture of a rattlesnake tail, at the Chiricahua Desert Museum, Rodeo, NM.
Tell has a studio in Sommerset, UK, where he lives with his wife and family.