Orange fish in the ocean - photo by Hiroko Yoshii - photo by Hiroko Yoshii

Life as a Scientific Illustrator

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I grew up drawing animals. Birds, bugs, whales, my cat, anything you can think of, including animals that didn’t exist. My best friend and I would sit for hours doing nothing else. If we weren’t drawing, we were outside, observing our subjects. I grew up loving science, too, so when I went off to college it seemed like the practical, obvious choice for a career path. I never thought I could be a professional artist. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind at the time; I loved biology, and I wanted to learn about the world around me. A few years after college, however, I really felt something was missing, even after doing some wonderful jobs looking for spotted owls in the wilderness. I missed drawing!

Being a scientific illustrator is a dream career for someone with a passion for two very different subjects. Illustrating a plant, animal or other creature is the absolute best way to learn about it. It has fueled my love of birding, too; once I draw a bird, I never forget how to identify the species in the field. Most of my illustrations are inspired by things I’ve seen in real life; visiting a beautiful place or seeing a unique behavior will often inspire a new piece or whole series. I’m most passionate about illustrating creatures and habitats in peril, and I hope my work will reach a broad audience, and be understood by folks with or without a science background. Understanding the world around us is the first step toward fostering stewardship in our communities. I’m hopeful that my illustrations will help inspire someone to volunteer, donate, or make a lifestyle change to aid in wildlife and environmental conservation efforts.

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