Combining Science and Art

I'm beginning to realize that what I want to do in and with my life is connect the art that I love to the science I find so fasinating (this is what others have been telling me to do for a few years now). I'm coming up on my senior year of college, and will be graduating with a double major in Biology and Environmental Studies, and a minor in Writing Studies. I have always had an intense love for both science and art, however I still have no idea what I want to do once I graduate. I have always been relatively decent with art, and my strengths lie in capturing things exactly the way I see them, whether through pencil and paper or through photography. However, since highschool I've had a severe strain on the art I've been able to do, and just now I've realizing just how unhappy it has made me has me.

The possiblility of merging both science and art into something as amazing as Science Illlustrating is something I really want to do, but I'm not really sure where to start. I know I need an exceptional portfolio, with different media and subjects represented, but beyond that I'm lost. I haven't had any courses for art/design/anything in college because mine doesn't offer anything (except photography and "painting," both of which I have taken), and that would obviously pin me as uneducated next to an art major.

I guess I just would like some help as to options on what I could do and who I could talk to to 'start the ball rolling.'

Thank you!


I would recommend that you read through the forum messages found here in the Science Illustration Education, and maybe some selected topics in the General Forum. Most of what I could say is already said there. Fortunately the forums are not too thick, so you can probably get through it in an hour or two.

The main thing to think about is your situation and any need for immediate money. Getting ito science illustration will not be a quick road to a career. You will have to have/develop a good skill set and then find places to apply it. There are a limited number of full time positions doing striclty science drawing, but more positions that use the skills of science illustration in a broader context. Being a communications jack-of-all-trades is sometimes required to find a position or run a business.

If you have the opportunity, you should attend a conference, take a workshop, talk to a lot of people who are doing this sort of work.  Then take a step and see where you are, then reevaluate, and take another step. At each point you may find different directions to go. There is no one correct path. But it is important to keep connecting with people and remain a real presence in the community. Word of mouth is how most things happen in life.

Where are you located? Can you see yourself taking some post graduate courses? Do you hve any interest in Medical related subjects? What really interests you, subject-wise?


Hi Cara,

I don't feel that I could give you any advice for your particular situation (I don't know very much about it!), but I can tell you how I ended up combining Science and Art in my career.

I started out a biology major like you. Even though I enjoyed drawing and painting, I didn't do much with them while in school. After finding an entry-level job, I started taking a few art classes at community centers. Over time, I continued working my day job and creating art as a hobby. After about ten years, I started night classes in graphic design and learned web development through online resources. 

Then my lucky break struck. A job opened for a person with all these tools (biological knowledge, artistic skill, graphic & web design abilities). Even though it paid very little, I jumped at the opportunity. I loved it, but eventually had to leave for a job with a higher salary. At one point, I even tried starting my own freelance business - here's a helpful hint: Take Business Classes!

Fifteen years later, I was finally able to carve out a career that combines biology and art again. The important thing is, I never stopped taking art classes, workshops, and pushing myself to enter exhibits, etc. 

In my experience, finding a career in Biological Illustration is hard. It requires a lot of knowledge, a lot of skill, and a bit of luck. With time, that lucky break will come in some form, but you should focus on building your "tool kit" so you're ready when it does. 

Good luck,

Jennifer Landin