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.

Drawing out Superbug Solutions!

I had the great opportunity recently to be the Graphic Recorder for the Inaugural “Solutions for Drug-Resistant Infections” (SDRI) Conference held in Brisbane. I was there to draw out the Panel discussions and priorities to guide research efforts towards global solutions for drug-resistance research. Conference attendees voted on the top three research priorities which you can see pictured in the visuals! To see the highlights of this multi-disciplinary scientific conference for the Asia-Pacific region take a look at the SDRI Storify.

I am being asked to work more and more in the health space as visualising complex issues can help people to see the big picture. Having me there to help draw out controversial and sensitive issues also shows groups and stakeholders that they are being listened to and that their stories are important. My role in any group discussion/forum is to listen for the key messages, draw out the synergies and differences and put people in the picture. Recently I have also pictured the stories of those with Lived Experience (suicide) and the impending challenges of Aged Care. You can see more of how I work with people to put Community & Health in the picture.

I help people to put their ideas, issues and information in the picture through visual storytelling and you can see more of my work @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram and via my alter ego 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.

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

><((((º>.¸.·´¯`·.¸><((((º> .·´¯`·.¸><((((º>.¸

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.