The Art & Science of Storytelling

As a marine scientist and artist my life is always full of colour and creativity and sometimes your creative life even ends up on TV! I’m SO excited to ‘sea’ my art and science on Scope TV (an Aussie children’s science program) this week! You can see how science and art make a great team when I draw out some of my favourite ocean creatures with the FUN-tastic host Lee Constable at
I use the art and science of storytelling in my visual and creative communications business, “Picture your ideas”, and as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish. WHY? Because art and science are actually more similar than you probably think. Both art and science ask questions to understand and describe our world and although artists and scientists use different methods to do this they both experiment and explore to find their answers and/or express themselves. Thinking like an artist also opens up our minds to seeing and trying new things and thinking outside the box. This creative and critical thinking is becoming increasingly important in our society so to me art is science made clear!
Despite popular belief you do not have to be an artist or even be able to draw to use the arts in science and storytelling (eg. in teaching). You just need to give yourself, and your students, the time and space to be creative and use your imagination. There is science behind using the arts as drawing is thinking, so when you use visuals they can help you to see the big picture and reinforce information — so “when you draw you remember more”! That’s why I use the art of science in my storytelling to help make learning creative, visual and fun. Creativity is intelligence having fun and you can see examples of my creative education in classrooms at
I’m very excited about the science and art activities I have coming up this year. Starting with sharing my children’s picture book The Great Barrier Thief with children of all ages as it combines marine science and art to illustrate the impacts of climate change on our Great Barrier Reef. I would like to thank the fabulously talented Dianne Kelly Artist (photo of me and Di with book) who gave me the ‘illustration inspiration’ to create my picture book. Di has been my watercolour art teacher for 15 years and many many years ago when I was completing my PhD she would listen to all of my stories about my marine research and deep love of the ocean and suggested I put pen and paint to paper and bring those ocean stories to life! So I did, thank you Di!
I am also VERY excited to be presenting at the National Education Summit being held in Brisbane this June! I will be drawing out, literally, how I use the art of science in the classroom including how to sketchnote in schools, live sketchnoting on stage and sharing examples of my creative education in classrooms. You can see more about the Summit and the Free Seminar series for educators at and how I use sketchnotes in schools at Sketchnote your science.
I also use the art and science of storytelling through my graphic recording and creation of infographics and illustrations and this year I will be drawing out a wide range of important and interesting issues including: Positive Behaviour for Learning, Ministerial Student Advisory Council meetings, Human and shark interactions, Closing the Gap, Change management and Creative Education. I use my visual artworks to help share people’s stories and take them on a journey and to help make the complex simple and the simple compelling.
You can follow more of my creative journey and dive into my ocean storytelling as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

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