Although the profession isn’t all to popular in my own country, we could all fit in a classroom, worldwide there are a lot of scientific artists. Science art ranges from artist impressions, nature illustrations to reconstructions of fossils of plants and animals. Also the space animations and illustrations you see in the media are all considered science art. Anything science produces, that can’t be caught on film or photo, but needs to be visualized makes use of science art.
As with most of the arts it is a misunderstood profession. We have to deal with organisations that think we work for free or for “exposure” and our work is freely copied and used without permission “because internet”. But science art is often even more misunderstood than “regular” art. Not only does a science artist has to be good in the arts itself but he or she also has to know their scientific field.
So most science artists in the world have a degree in one or more scientific areas or a specific education in scientific illustration. That can be a BSc, MSc or even a PhD. I have, for example, a MSc in animal science from the Wageningen University, but I didn’t finish any official art education. Here in the Netherlands we only have one training towards scientific art and that is mostly about medical illustration. World-wide there are a lot of serious programs about scientific art and you even can get a PhD or become a professor in scientific illustration.[sketchfab id=”88a99d6515d24cfeb7dfda7292546cb3″ start=”0″ spin=”” controls=”0″]
Why this elaborate introduction? Because we, as science artists, are almost invisible to the public. That is because we, as people, are so used to see an image with every text. It doesn’t matter what the image is as long as it vaguely connects with that text.
Those images shape our world.
And they can reshape our world.
A thoughtless mandatory image accompanying a text can do a lot of harm. Think about how the anti-vax movement is taking a flight: most parents don’t want to see a needle stabbed into the arm of a crying child. A science artist can help media, scientists and communication departments with rethinking their communication.
If it is an artist impression or an elaborate reconstruction that you want, having a professional working with you for a BUDGET that does him or her right helps to get the message to the public the way you want it to instead of starting to lead a life of its own and doing the opposite of what you meant.
This is one of the reasons Symbiartic blog of Scientific American has announced this week as SciArt week. In this week, from March 1 until March 7, science artists from all over the world will post a minimum of 3 tweets a day about their own work and RT at least 5 tweets of other science artists, all using the hashtag #sciart.
The start was yesterday and already I have seen some amazing work. As you know I am more about the reconstruction and accurate science art but I even saw some wonderful artist impressions!
Here a few of those tweets, but if you want to see them all, go to twitter and follow #sciart!
— Tommy Leung (@The_Episiarch) March 2, 2015
— Darren Naish (@TetZoo) March 2, 2015
— Kalliopi Monoyios (@eyeforscience) March 1, 2015
— John Conway (@thejohnconway) March 1, 2015