My Blooming Sci-Art Story

Once upon a time there was a little girl from regional Queensland who dreamed of being by the sea as she was drawn to the ocean. Fast forward 40 years (yes, that’s my age!) and my sci-art story finds me turning something I love into something I live! So how did I do this and what has science and art got to do with the oceans!? My story starts at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia, where I did my PhD in marine science and on weekends I started watercolour painting, of course of all things marine. My time at UQ also included my family as my Dad helped me with every field trip into the mud in the name of marine science and I also met and married my marine science buddy for life, my hubby Dr Rich. The two Dr Pillans’ then graduated with their PhDs in marine science on the same day at UQ, which was quite the event! Over the next 10 years whilst I held numerous different jobs from public policy to industry development and research management I always kept up my marine painting.

Then, 18 months ago I took the plunge and dived into a new career, running my own creative business “Picture your ideas” with Dr Sue Pillans, where I combine my skills as a marine ecologist, artist and strategist to provide a range of creative and visual services as a graphic recorder and creative scientist. My relationship with UQ continues to this day in my adjunct role as a Research Fellow. THEN, to my delight UQ commissioned me to paint scenes of this iconic establishment which I entitled “UQ in Bloom”. An honour to create these artworks as a proud alumni of UQ. So my story shows that art and science certainly complement each other and make it part of your life. As my sci-art hero Albert Einstein says, “Creativity is intelligence having fun“, and I’m certainly having fun with my blooming sci-art life! You can see more of my commissioned artworks here 

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

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