It’s Whale Shark Day!!

Today is International Whale Shark Day and what a whale of a time I have had over the last two years getting up close and personal with these gentle giants of the sea. I have been so fortunate to be part of the marine research team for the Ningaloo Outlook project, a strategic research partnership between CSIRO and BHP Billiton, which has been tagging Whale Sharks in the Ningaloo Marine Park. You can follow the tracks of the Whale Sharks by logging on here: Through this project, and my recent work with the University of Southern Queensland and the National Girls Collaborative Project (from USA), I have also had the most amazing opportunity to visit with students and teachers to show STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) in action by using my graphic recording and art – to encourage creative thinking about our BIG ocean issues. Doing ‘shark art’ with primary school kids, sharing tagging technology with high school students and creating BIG MakerSpaces with teachers has to be the best job in the world on this Whale Shark Day!! You can follow my creative journey as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook ( and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Think BIG, draw BIG and create BIG!

National Science Week was so full of creative activities for me as I got to graphically record, draw and create BIG MakerSpaces with people! I got this amazing opportunity by working with a couple of inspiring women of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics), Karen Peterson the CEO of the National Girls Collaborative Project in the US and Dr Lindy Orwin of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). My alter ego, Dr Suzie Starfish, facilitated her very own MakerSpace at USQs beautiful Toowoomba campus, with teachers and researchers. The MakerSpace was all about creating BIG thinking for our Living Oceans, by focusing on the biggest shark in the sea, the Whale Shark. The science and technology of tagging Whale Sharks was discussed, along with putting the “A” in STEAM by working with participants to create a life-sized Whale Shark on the glass walls of the MakerSpace! We then discussed ways that science and technology helps protect and manage BIG ocean species and how MakerSpaces could be more girl-friendly when focusing on these BIG STEAM issues. As you can see from the photos there was a lot of BIG FUN and CREATIVITY happening in this MakerSpace for our Living Oceans!

You can follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook ( and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Lights, camera, STEM in action!!

What a week National Science Week has been for me!! It started with lights, camera and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in action at the USQ Salon (University of Southern Queensland). No, this is not a beauty treatment but a place for the exchange of ideas through a real-life and functioning tv studio, at USQs beautiful Toowoomba campus. I was there to graphically record Karen Peterson’s presentations on the National Girls Collaborative Project, of which she is the CEO in the United States (see more about this project here It was an honour for me to graphically record Karens presentations throughout National Science Week which also included an overview of FabFems (, a national database of women in STEM professions who are inspiring role models for young women, of which I’m now one!! A HUGE thank you to Dr Lindy Orwin of USQ who organised and engaged my creative services for Karen’s visit to Australia, its been such a great experience working with Women in STEM!

YOU too can take part in Karen’s STEM workshops at USQ by finding out more and registering at:

You can follow more of my creative journey via My Blog and as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish ( on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

The ART of Science!

I’m SUPER excited to be part of National Science Week as I will get the opportunity to use my passions in life, art and science! I will be helping to picture how we can create the future for girls’ ESTEAMME (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Maker Education) in rural, regional and remote Queensland. My alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish ( will be making an appearance to draw out the science of some of our BIG ocean issues. I will also have the amazing opportunity to graphically record a series of exciting presentations and discussions on STEAM outreach and education to rural, regional and remote learners, especially girls. I will be working with two incredible women, Dr Lindy Orwin from the University of Southern Queensland and Karen Peterson the CEO of the National Girls Collaborative who is visiting from the United States. A BIG thank you to Dr Lindy for this amazing opportunity! YOU can join in to the program of events, with some being streamed live. You can follow my creative journey via Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

I heart marine art!

I just love hearing the stories of where my marine artworks travel to to find their new homes, whether that be to someone’s office, a kids room or hanging up in people’s homes locally or around the world. These are the latest watercolour sea creatures to be sold! Seeing the looks on people’s faces when they receive my marine artworks as gifts is probably one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as an artist. A great example is the glee shown here from Miss Kubi, a CCRES colleague in the Philippines, with her painted Pistol Shrimp (aka. the loudest shrimp in the sea). I’m hoping to start incorporating some of my artwork techniques into my graphic recording with people as well as using it in my series of kids picture books about the wonders under the sea! So stay tuned for more here soon! You can ‘sea’ more of my marine artworks in my gallery here and you can follow my creative journey as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook ( and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

The ART of visual storytelling!

I have to say that in the first year of running my own creative business, “Picture your ideas” with Dr Sue Pillans, that I have the best job in the world! Every time I get an opportunity to draw out ideas with people I get to see the joy that the art of storytelling brings. Through my visual storytelling, using graphic recording and original artworks, I get to engage people through words and pictures to create unique stories all over the world. My creative thinking takes me to schools and universities, indigenous communities, business and industry and international organisations. Despite the differences in the people and groups I work with, you can see from the photos that they all react in the same happy way to the visual stories. That’s because these visual stories are your stories, so they are immediately relatable. My role as a graphic recorder is a special one, as I’m there to listen, interpret the information and capture the key messages by picturing your ideas. So remember when it comes to the art of visual storytelling, pens and paper are so powerful with people!

Speaking of storytelling, check out this great article on ‘Mastering the art of true storytelling’ by a fellow storytelling colleague of mine, Mark Paterson of Currie Communications, who recently featured my visual work: Thanks Mark!

You can see more of my visual stories on my website at and you can follow my creative journey as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook ( and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.