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The amazing world of SciArt Twitter

I’ve been having some great experiences with the science art community on twitter (#SciArt). So I wanted to share how I got into SciArt, some underappreciated artists, and why SciArt is an important part of science communication and the world of science in general. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to share more of your favorite small creators (or your own work) in the comments!

My path from art to science to mixing it up

I started out in the arts, attending a magnet middle-high school that focused on teaching fine arts. I dabbled in almost everything: dance, theatre, orchestra, visual arts, and audio-visual arts. Science classes were fun because they integrated the arts. I even took physics for fun. But I wanted to do art. I loved comics, so decided to go to college for sequential art.

From art to retail

I ended up taking the “easy way” and continued the video production track that I had done for 5 years in middle-high school. Just before my last semester, I was forced to leave school, and started working full time in a photo lab. During this time, I started my transition from female to male. I’m happy to answer questions about being trans*. I now identify as female-to-male-ish non-binary. This is a #SciComm challenge in itself, but not my focus this week. 😉

From retail to science

After 5 years of working in the horrors of retail as a lab manager and later a pharmacy technician, I decided to go back to school to be a pharmacist. After joining a lab, I fell in love with research. I started my PhD in 2014 in @UofA‘s Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences program (@ABBSUofA), and joined the Cancer Biology program the next year. My research has been incredibly challenging and rewarding.

I study health disparities in colorectal cancer, specifically in African Americans, who have the highest death rates of colorectal cancer in the US. Studying health disparities has been very rewarding. I challenged myself to learn the command line, R, and Python so I could do a 100% bioinformatics PhD. I think this is a great example of how I work. I’m constantly pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.

From science to SciComm and SciArt on Twitter and beyond!

I’ve made comics and animations during all of this time, but didn’t share them. But in 2017, I came across the science communication (#SciComm Twitter) community. I’ve met so many amazing people that I decided this was a great fit for me after my PhD.

I sent my science art (#SciArt Twitter) out into the world with a terrified push of the Submit button. And much to my surprise, I’ve gotten some great responses! (Thank you <3)

I’m looking forward to talking about all the amazing SciArt that is going on right now and hopefully inspire artists, #SciComm-ers and scientists to collaborate to create visual stories to engage all kinds of audiences.

The amazing Sciart Twitter community, calling out small creators!

I want to introduce you to some great artists in the SciArt Twitter community, but not the big names!

There are some people in SciArt who have tons of followers and make amazing art. They’re easy to find. Instead, I’d like to highlight some artists who have fewer followers, but still make amazing art!!

Maybe it’s because I come from a fine arts background, but I definitely think of beautiful art done by those like @SerpenIllus@TownsendAnnette@ThreeTailArt@BasiliskosArt, and @laurelmundyillo.

I’ve recently fallen in love with #SundayFishSketch. Fish are so diverse and beautiful, and the art is so varied in the hashtag!

I’ve always been a comic nerd (recently did 7 days of recommended book covers…mostly comics), but it’s always a bit hard to find small comic artists for some reason. But I did find: @KoalaFruit, @PhDoodles, @the_neiler, @RosemaryMosco, @cutelydrawnsci, who all make cool stuff!

Of course, I can’t leave out graphic artists, since I am one. I love the work of @bighippoart, @BridgetSquidget, and @ReneCampbellArt.

There are some neat animators out there, too. I LOVE to animate! Hopefully you’ve checked out @Animate_Science Have you seen @BuryLeah? Also know @SheRockScience is trying to do more animation.

@eveninghawk has done some really nice work, both sketch and finished. Worth checking out!

And I saved probably the most creative peeps for last. I’m so amazed by their originality Other: @lia_pas (embroidery), @Thepurplelilac (crochet), @AnaMaPorras (crochet), @BennuBirdy (cookies), @LivWithoutLimit (jewelry/pins) OMG, go look at them!

How SciArt benefits both science and SciComm

I really think that one of the greatest benefits of SciArt is the ability to visualize complex topics. I’ve always had a difficult time understanding ideas on paper. Even reading books, I often got different visualization in my mind of things than others I talked to.

Reading papers has always been extremely difficult for me. I just have so much trouble with words! But interpreting figures and models has always come more naturally.

Not to say graphics always make things make more sense. There have definitely been times that the graphical abstract or model have made me more confused than when I started.

Even so, I truly believe that SciArt (especially on social media) has the potential to show ppl how beautiful our world is. I appreciate the simplicity of many science materials out there for getting the message of science out, but there’s something transformative to me about going beyond the funny message.

When I sit down to make a project, I ask myself…how can I transport my audience into another world….a world that is just like this one, but that makes them want to reach out and be immersed in it?

I don’t want or expect every person who views my work to want to be a scientist, but I definitely want them to be wow-ed by nature and what we’ve learned about it and how we can use it to improve our lives. It’s better for me if my audience start asking questions in their minds, what if?

I hope that the next time they hear that buzz word, they’ll think of my art and be transported back to that place of joy and wonder. And if it happens enough times, I hope to gain both their trust and skepticism.

Beauty and accuracy are both key!

Because of this, I can’t make SciArt that’s just beautiful. It has to be accurate. And there’s a balance between detail and ease of access. Striking that balance is def the hardest part of creating SciArt.

Before anything else, though, we have to grab the audience’s attention. Being up to date on recent marketing trends is beneficial here, as much as I hate to admit it. But what’s the point of making beautiful, accurate art if no one is going to look at it?

IMO, science art has a huge place in bringing trust and understanding and healthy skepticism to everyone. Art is accessible in a way that words cannot be. It draws people in and makes them question everything they see. It’s why in business, marketing & comm budgets are no tiny thing.

Almost every part of our manmade world has been built around marketing. I’m not suggesting we turn into corporate machines, but I do believe in information synthesis. We can utilize the knowledge and tools from other industries to improve our craft.

The goal must be clear. Are we interested in understanding? Recruiting more scientists? Trust? Funding? Acceptance? Healthy skepticism? Each needs a slightly different approach. This is why collaboration is so important. We can reach all these goals by working together!

Are you on SciArt Twitter? Go ahead. Get on, make friends, and improve your craft!

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