My 2016 in Pictures!

In my final Blog post for the year I just wanted to reflect on what a great year 2016 was for me and my new creative business, “Picture your ideas“. My goal this year was quite a simple one, to do what I love and love what I do by picturing ideas with people, teams and organisations. I’m thrilled to say that not only did I achieve my goal but I found so much joy and happiness in new creative endeavours, collaborations and communities. A picture paints a thousand words and these photos certainly show my amazing journey this year, including swimming with whale sharks and hanging out at my favourite place, the sea! This is also a time to thank those who support me in all the creative things that I do (…you know who you are!) and for those out there who support small business. I’m super excited about the new creative collaborations I will be undertaking next year, some of which are very close to my heART, including writing and illustrating my kids picture books about the ocean. Stay tuned as YOU too will have the opportunity to draw out your ideas with me! So join me in 2017, The Year of AWESOMENESS, and “picture your ideas”!

Best fishes always, Sue

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

Picturing your ideas in 2016!

I can’t believe its almost the end of the year and what a year 2016 has been for me “Picturing your ideas“!! I have thoroughly enjoyed drawing out the ideas, issues and information from a diverse group of people, teams, schools and organisations this year. My graphic recording has also taken me to some amazing and far away places starting in the Philippines, to Western Australia, across regional Queensland to Torres Strait and to my beloved hometown of Brisbane! A BIG thank you to all of my amazing clients and colleagues who were part of my visual journey this year, and for supporting small creative business! I just love putting people in the picture and it’s the people that make my job so enjoyable. And as you can see from all of the smiling faces, graphic recording certainly adds another element to group discussions and helps people to see the big picture. A special thank you to my family, friends and creative (scicomm) community who have continually supported me through my new creative journey. I am so very grateful and proud that I am turning something I love into something I live and I just can’t wait for the next chapter in my story! I have new and exciting creative collaborations planned for next year with 2017 being The Year of AWESOMENESS! So here I come 2017, ready to Picture your ideas!!

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

Sea-ing the Science!

I use visual storytelling to capture and convey people’s ideas, information and discussions and due to my devotion to the ocean a lot of my work this year has included helping people, teams and organisations to ‘sea’ the science — through visuals. I think science communication (or scicomm for short) is critical to the future of our Blue Planet as I believe if people fall in love with the oceans they might be more moved to look after and protect them. I have a very simple philosophy when it comes to good scicomm, keep it simple, tell a hopeful story and use pictures where you can. As picturing science is a very powerful way of communicating, I use a range of different visual storytelling approaches from drawings and paintings, maker spaces and creative science in schools to being actively involved in podcasts, Google Hangouts, interviews and social media. In all of my science communications, despite the topic, I always try to provide positive messages and ocean optimism as in my experience a good story is far more relatable and ‘contagious’ than a bad one. For example, my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish ( uses art and science storytelling to share the wonders of our underwater world using inspiration, imagination, illustration and information — and creates science smiles in schools!! Weblinks to my recent scicomm discussions across the globe with Dr Mike, Dr Karen(s) and Dr Paige can be viewed here:


Google Hangout (ACCELN):


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

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.