My story of words & pictures!

I was so excited to be asked to present at the Children’s Author & Illustrator Seminar hosted by the very talented Michelle Worthington of Share your Story. This workshop was for aspiring author/illustrators of kids picture books and what a great day we had. I decided to live sketchnote my creative journey of becoming a published author/illustrator through visual storytelling using my words and pictures. My journey to where I am today has been an interesting one and I love that I am now using the art of marine science to publish my very own kids picture book, a dream come true! My advice to the aspiring author/illustrators at the workshop was to:

  • Always believe in yourself and your story
  • Ride the waves of rejection (…and just keep swimming)
  • Find your Tribe

I was honoured to be amongst some of our amazing writing/illustrating talent including Giuseppe Poli, Sandra Temple and Dimity Powell. So great to hear their stories and learn from these storytellers. The workshop attendees were full of energy and questions for our Q&A panel session which emphasised the need for all aspiring author/illustrators to put their stories into words and pictures on the page! The workshop ended with some of the brave attendees reading our their stories for feedback, which was a great way to end our special day together! A BIG thank you to my friend and mentor Michelle Worthington for providing this amazing opportunity to share my story. Anyone wanting to follow their heART to becoming an author/illustrator of kids picture books I highly recommend joining Michelle’s supportive #shareyourstory Tribe and signing up to her editing and mentoring program!

**AND don’t forget these school holidays to dive into our creative STEM storytelling workshop with Mermaid Michelle & Dr Suzie Starfish Under the Sea!

Everyone has a story, what’s yours? You can follow my creative journey and ocean storytelling as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Sea-ing our Living Oceans!

I’m excited to share that over the next six months I will be visiting schools and holding workshops around Australia about Our Living Oceans as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish. Using the art of marine science I will be bringing science stories of the sea indoors for kids of all ages! I use a range of interactive approaches to engage with students and kids as we all think and learn differently. So I use a combination of visual storytelling, multi-media and hands-on Sci-Art activities, like the always popular “Shark Art”! I also hold ‘Sketchnote your science’ in schools for students and teachers to help make learning and science visual, as “when you draw you remember more“!! I also hold workshops for teachers to learn the ‘art’ of sketchnoting your science as part of their Professional Development.

As you can ‘sea’ from the photos using the art of education makes learning (and teaching) fun, interactive and memorable! I also have a new ‘Reef’ dress for when I’m working with kids which has been a BIG hit! Thanks to my very talented (and patient) mum for helping me create this special dress of wearable Sea Sci-Art! I must remember to wear my matching Dory fascinator next visit though, as the kids always ask where Dory is!

You can find out more about my school incursions and sketchnote workshops via my Creative Education. You can also now BOOK into my next workshop with the very talented international award winning author Michelle Worthington, aka. Mermaid Michelle, for an exciting and creative STEM workshop Under the Sea! The workshop will be held in the June/July school holidays in Brisbane and bookings are essential. You can ‘sea’ more details at Eventbrite:

You can dive in with me and follow my creative marine adventures as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Living my life with ESTEAM!

What a great time I had in my recent interview with the lovely Leah Cannon from the Life Science Network about How I Got My Job! Leah is part of the amazing Life Science Network which is a forum for life science executives, scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and media professionals to come together for easy communication, to make new connections and find new ways to collaborate. I was so excited to be asked about my career as my journey has been a diverse one from crawling through the muddy waters of Moreton Bay in my PhD research, to working in many different and interesting roles in the Queensland Government (including everything from hostile stakeholder meetings, product testing of prawns and pearls to TV appearances and overseeing great teams and Statewide priorities) to now running my own business specialising in visual and creative communications.

As a marine ecologist, artist and writer my ‘job’ today is all about following my heART and no one day is ever the same, which I love! I now get to work with people, teams and organisations to help “Picture your ideas” as a graphic recorder. I combine my love of art and science to bring the nature of our Living Oceans into classrooms through my creative education and visual storytelling. And as I have always been drawn to the ocean I am now writing and illustrating a series of kids picture books about the wonders of our underwater world! It really is the #bestjobever!

I am doing all of this by living my life with ESTEAM (Entrepreneur, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) as I have turned something I love into something I live! I hope my story inspires others to follow their dreams and live their life in colour! A BIG thank you to the special people in my life, the mentors throughout my career and in my business today for always believing in me and encouraging me to follow my heART. You can read more about how I use the Art of STEM with kids, students and schools.

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

Picturing rural teaching!

I have such fond memories of growing up in regional and remote Queensland where going to school meant dirt roads and waiting for emu’s to cross the road! So I was delighted when I was asked to be the graphic recorder for the TeachQLD Teach Rural Career Fair, hosted by the Queensland Department of Education and Training. This event was for current and future teachers looking for new adventures and teaching opportunities in regional, rural and remote Queensland. I drew out the two panel sessions where Queensland Principals shared tips for landing that job and early career Teachers in regional Queensland gave advice and tips on how to find your feet in a new community. What a great event to promote and highlight the amazing opportunities to teach in our rural, regional and remote communities. Quote of the day for me was “Give RURAL a GO!”.

You can see more of my Graphic Recording with groups, including Government Groups, and my time in the classroom as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish (on Facebook) and follow my creative journey via @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Some GREAT Barrier Reef news!!

I have some GREAT NEWS to share with you! My alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish will be writing, illustrating and publishing her first kids picture book about The Great Barrier Reef with Little Steps Publishing!! I am not usually lost for words, as I can literally talk underwater, but I’m super EXCITED about this new creative collaboration with Little Steps! This story would not have surfaced though if it was not for the encouragement and support of my writing mentor and friend, Michelle Worthington of Share your Story, and my marine biologist for life my hubby Dr Richo. Thank you for encouraging me to just DIVE IN and share MY story!

The story is best described through its title, however the title is under wraps at the moment as it is so GREAT! The story is about the impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, both human and natural, and what happens to it when we are not watching. The story is based on marine science and told through the eyes of a feisty female fish named Anthia. Although the storyline is not of happy times on the reef my story is full of hope and ocean optimism as I cannot imagine a world without coral reefs, can you? The manuscript is currently being edited and once the words are right the fun part of illustrating the story begins. You can ‘sea’ some of my preliminary artworks on my website and I will be posting regular updates there on creating the story of The Great Barrier Reef which you can also follow via the hashtag #haveGBRhope.

PS. The same week that I found out that my Great Barrier Reef story was going to be published I also received my first rejection letter from a publisher for another fishy tale I have written. To me that no just means no to that book right now, which is all part of the magical and challenging world of writing kids picture books!

You can also follow my creative marine journey @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Best fishes!

><((((º>.¸.·´¯`·.¸><((((º> .·´¯`·.¸><((((º>.¸
.·´¯`·.¸.><((((º>    Dr Suzie Starfish

Drawing with Superheroes!

Drawing with real-life Superheroes for Superhero Daughter Day was a real highlight for me. I am so proud to support the Tech Girls Movement, a non-profit organization promoting positive female information technology role models to encourage and raise awareness of technology career options for girls. I have been working with the founder, and inspirational women in STEM Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen (aka. Jewella Superhero), and her team to help girls “picture their ideas” by putting the A in STEAM! Superhero Daughter Day was all about girls having fun with their peers, meeting some cool female role models in IT and learning more about what life is like as a Tech Girl! As you can see from the photos there was a lot of excited energy and fun learning in the room of 300 girls and parents who learnt the ‘art’ of coding. This event was proudly supported by Diverse City Careers and TechnologyOne. I love drawing out ideas with organizations, groups, kids and parents and am so grateful for the opportunity to picture “Girls for a change”. KAPOW!! What is your SUPERPOWER!!?

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

The time is ‘write’ now!

I set myself some BIG creative goals this year, one to become a published picture book author! So on International Women’s Day its a good time to remind ourselves that we CAN achieve our dreams if we follow our heARTs and surround ourselves with a supportive Squad or Tribe! The time is ‘write’ now for me to take the plunge to becoming an author/illustrator — as I have just submitted my very first kids picture book manuscript to publishers around the world! I have been writing my kids picture books about the wonders of our underwater world (based on marine science-art) for many years but have never had the courage or Tribe around me to dive in! NOW I DO! I know the rejection rate for kids picture books is very high but I’m ready ‘write’ now for the challenge! So look out picture book world Dr Suzie Starfish (my alter ego) is going to make a splash in the world of kids literature with her fishy tales (…fish tails that is)! A very special thank you to my amazing mentor Michelle Worthington, international award winning children’s author and Director of Share your Story, who has inspired and supported me in my picture book journey. So ‘write’ now let’s celebrate all of those people, women and creative companions (ie. my furry kids) that support us in following our dreams!

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

Best fishes on International Womens Day!  ><((((º>.¸.·´¯`·.¸><((((º> .·´¯`·.¸><((((º>.¸

Turning Ocean Science into Art!

So my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish went National this week thanks to an interview I recently did with the lovely Jessica Hinchcliffe of ABC Radio Brisbane — where I talked about my life as a marine scientist, artist and visual communicator. What a great time I had in this interview talking about how I use art to teach and communicate marine science as a graphic recorder, artist and as Dr Suzie Starfish! In this interview I felt as I do when I make my school visits, a bit like an ‘Ocean Rockstar’! I was fortunate enough that ABC News then shared my story nationally as a feature story and as a result I have received so much positive feedback and interest in my creative work. So I’m as happy as a clam!! Through amazing opportunities like this it is a great reminder that it’s important to do what you love — as I have turned something I love into something I live and I’m so grateful everyday. A BIG thank you to Jess and ABC Brisbane Radio for inviting me into the studio to talk about being drawn to the ocean! You can ‘sea’ and hear my ABC interview via the links below and on my website under Creative Education/STEM

Digital interview

Audio interview

You can also follow my creative journey @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Dr Suzie Starfish turns TWO!

Two years ago today I created my creative business “Picture your ideas” with Dr Sue Pillans and  my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish – to share my marine art-science storytelling through imagination, inspiration, information and illustration. And what an adventure it has been drawing out ocean ideas and issues with so many different people and organisations both here in Australia and throughout the South-East Asia region. The aim of my visual storytelling, through sciart and scicomm, is to share the wonders of our underwater world with ocean optimism; as I believe if you understand and love something you are more likely to protect and save it.

I’m going to make a splash this year with some new and exciting creative collaborations, writing and illustrating my kids picture books and plans to create new classroom content to help make learning visual (by putting the ‘A’ in STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, Mathematics). And I just can’t wait!! A BIG thank you to my family, friends and all of my supporters, here on our Blue Planet and in cyber space, who believe in my visual storytelling and my dreams. I followed my heART two years ago and have turned something I love into something I live and I’m so grateful for the people in my life and the great opportunities that come my way.

So dive in with Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook ( and learn about the wonders of our underwater world through illustration and information and let’s “Picture your ideas“! You can also follow my creative marine adventures @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Picture your goals for 2017!

Happy New Year!! I hope you have had a great start to the year. I thought I would start the new year, the year of Awesomeness, with an opportunity for you to “Picture your goals” for 2017, with ME!! I’m often asked many questions about how I do my sketchnoting and graphic recording with the usual comment being”…I love what you do but I can’t draw”. I believe if you can draw a line, then you can draw! Sketchnoting is a form of visual storytelling and it is more about drawing out your ideas than creating a piece of art and I would like to show you how! One of my 2017 goals is to be a part of more creative collaborations so I’m holding my first Drink & Draw MeetUp to help “Picture your goals” on the 24th January 2017 from 5:30pm in South Brisbane (details below). This will be an informal social MeetUp for anyone who is interested in “picturing their ideas” and meeting other people who want to use creative ways to communicate their stories. So RSVP as soon as you can so you don’t miss out and I look forward to helping you draw out your goals for 2017!

Drink & Draw – “Picture your goals (through sketchnoting)

  • When: Tuesday 24th January 2017 from 5:30pm
  • Where: The Charming Squire, 3/133 Grey Street, South Brisbane (near QPAC)
  • What to bring: pen, markers, paper (or iPad*) and your 2017 goals!
  • *Ipad users: my favourite free drawing app is Paper53
  • RSVP me: or DM me @suepillans on Twitter & Instagram

You can see more of my visual storytelling through my Graphic Recording and follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook ( and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.