Using Art to Communicate Science

Log into Twitter on a Sunday and search for #SundayFishSketch; you’ll find a plethora of illustrations of fishes and other marine species. These illustrations are submitted by scientists, artists and anyone else inspired to create, from all over the world. One of these contributors is 1st year School of Marine & Environmental Affairs (SMEA) graduate student Spencer Showalter. Showalter said “My sophomore year [at Boston University], I traveled to Belize for a research class, and part of the assignment was to keep a field journal and draw a ridiculous number of fishes. That journal looked objectively terrible, but I had to draw so many that I came to enjoy it.” When choosing what to draw Showalter said “I like to pick a fish with some sort of fun fact or conservation message so that there’s more of a conversation around it. Also, I think fish are overlooked in a world of cute, fuzzy animals, and I like to point out that they’re pretty cute, too.”

Sketch by Spencer Showalter

#SundayFishSketch was created by Rene Martin, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas, in 2016. She had practiced art throughout her life and realized illustration’s capacity for science communication while finishing her master’s degree. “Art speaks volumes and sparks interest in ways that words and writing sometimes can’t,” Martin said. “To get back into illustration, keep myself consistent and encourage others in the process, I decided to post my drawings on Twitter.”

Read more about #SundayFishSketch, Spencer Showalter and Rene Martin in the UW College of the Environment Article “Marine and Environmental Affairs’ student uses art to communicate science with #SundayFishSketch.”