John Altyn

John Altyn joined North Brooklyn Parks Alliance as a horticulturist in 2022. For John, this role is a return to his roots: he was born and raised right here in Greenpoint, and his grandfather—a horticulturist from Poland—taught John to care for plants in their backyard garden.

After studying at Pratt, John moved to LA in 1990 to pursue multiple creative endeavors including partnering with renowned animator Virgil Ross on a successful limited edition series of cartoon drawings. In 1993, Warner Bros. commissioned the duo to create a drawing for President Bill Clinton, the cel of which is now housed in the collection of the Clinton Presidential Library. John also composed music for horror movies including the second, third and fourth installments of the cult classic ‘Sleepaway Camp.’

After living in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles for several years, John decided to make a drastic shift. He bought property on 40 acres of old-growth forest in Michigan and lived there for a little over a decade—eschewing modern technological conveniences like phones, computers, and television. Instead, he dedicated himself to caring for nature and planted over 450 varieties of maple trees on his property. John has written a book about his experience titled: ‘Maples on the Pond Nature Preserve: A World of Swirling Colors.’

In addition to his experience in animation, music composition, and land stewardship, John also has a background in journalism, art curation, as well as bonsai cultivation and education.

Now as Director of Horticulture at NBK Parks, John has come full circle and is currently working on planting 150 maples at Under the K Bridge Park! You can reach him at