Career Advice

I am interested in a career in scientific illustration. I have been accepted to study Illustration at a degree level at a UK based university. However, before committing I wanted to check to see if you recommend any degree programs that are specialized in natural science. If not, what would be the best career route into this field.

Thank you and kind regards

I would suggest you start by reading the GNSI Forums for similar questions. You might find this one very useful: https://gnsi.org/forum/science-illustration-education/preparing-career-s...

It is possible to make a career as an illustrator who works in the sciences. It is very important to learn to communicate fact-based ideas and have strong drawing, color and design skills. Working in a science organization will require multiple skills and often requires you to be a jack-of-all trades. So an interest in photography, video, 3D animation will also serve you in good stead. Staff positions in the hard sciences are not super common, but there is a large range of science, and engineering science, research and businesses that need people who can communicate ideas visually.

The UK and Europe has several people and institutions than may be of interest. There are several institutions in the US that have post-graduate programs or certificates that can focus your interest further after gaining your core illustration skills. There are not many undergraduate programs focused on natural science illustration. You should look at this list of programs and coursed as a starting point to investigate alternatives: https://gnsi.org/sites/default/files/GNSI_Course_Review_v8_8.pdf

Do not ignore medical and premedical illustration programs as possibilities. The skills in any illustration program oriented toward commercial illustration are very similar. The skills needed for working in the hard sciences of research journals can usually be picked up on the job if you have a good background and the type of information you can pick up from the GNSI. 

A respect and interest in the process of science discovery and accuracy is the most important thing to add to your illustration and design skills to make yourself into a science illustrator. Alway stay interested in learning the details of science knowledge in general, and if you have a particular interest in one area of the natural world, dive deep into he subject, on your own or in any classes you can pick up.

You may find it inspirational to read about soem of the journeys of other science Illustrators on the GNSI website In the Journal Article section: https://gnsi.org/journal . Look for articles title Member Spotlight of In Memorium.

If you have more questions, feel free to contact us again.

Britt