Our GREAT Barrier Reef!

I have just returned from a GREAT trip to our Great Barrier Reef with my Dad and Coral Expeditions! The cruise departed Cairns and headed North where we stopped and explored Cooktown, Lizard Island, Ribbon Reef # 9, Ribbon Reef #3 and Escape Reef! What a fantastic crew, scrumptious food and breath taking seascapes! It was great to meet so many new “Friends of the Reef” on our cruise too, from six countries! This is a GREAT way to ‘sea’ our Great Barrier Reef (GBR) where you certainly see the beauty in nature everyday.

There was SO much to see and do on this trip with some GREAT illustration inspiration for me on the Reef as I progress to the final stages of illustrating my kids picture book about the Great Barrier Reef. I got to see my first octopus on this trip which was very exciting and I was absolutely amazed at the colour, life and noise of the outer barrier reef. Remembering that “colours are the smiles of nature”, so the GBR was beaming!

It was also GREAT to see how the crew and passengers were ‘on board’ with my kids picture book about the Reef, as everyone was keen to have their photos taken with the hashtag (and key message) of my book #haveGBRhope. Being with these global citizens of the Great Barrier Reef reminded me how much sea-ing the Reef and learning about the Reef leads to loving it! SO GREAT!!

A special thanks to my Dad (and Coral Expeditions) for a GREAT trip to the Reef!!

You can keep updated on the progress of my kids picture book about The Great Barrier Reef and dive in with me and follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

The Art of Visual Storytelling

I am delighted to share my latest creative collaboration which is with an Indigenous business, Markwell and Associates, to illustrate a series of visuals to accompany the ‘Safeguarding Indigenous Heritage and Knowledge’ project for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). My role as a creative and visual communicator is to ‘draw out’ the key messages of projects to suit the content, audience and delivery mechanisms. In this case I was asked to incorporate both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elements into the drawings which will be  shared with a diverse audience including GBRMPA staff, GBR Traditional Owner groups and other Reef stakeholders (in person, online and in documentation). And I’ve had such a wonderful response to my visuals from both my clients and Reef Traditional Owners including the appreciation of my creative energy in the process! You can see more of my visual storytelling with Indigenous Communities.

I use my background as a marine scientist, experience in public policy and my creative skills as an artist to help people to communicate their stories visually — through hand-drawn infographics and illustrations. The creative process is an iterative one so it takes some time to create visual products that are tailored to both the project and the audience. My process starts with reviewing the project information and interpreting the key messages, discussing my visual ideas with client(s) followed by sharing ‘mock ups’ of how I picture the project’s visual needs. Everybody has a story and I love to help people and organisations to “picture their ideas” through storytelling. In this digital age of technology, data and visual ‘noise’ I find that people are looking for a unique and different way to share their stories — and through the art of visual storytelling I can provide that point of difference as “When you see it, you get it!

You can ‘sea’ more of my creative collaborations via Infographics & Illustrations. You can also dive in with me and follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Make a Splash these school holidays!

I am SOOOOO excited that my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish is joining Mermaid Michelle (International Award winning author http://www.michelleworthington.com) for more creative fun “Under the Sea” these September school holidays! Our workshops turn the tide on plastic pollution in our oceans through interactive, creative sci-art storytelling with the important message of “Don’t trash where they splash!”. I talk about the problems of plastic pollution in the sea and show kids how to reuse and recycle everyday plastics to create one-of-a-kind art! Mermaid Michelle then takes children (and adults!) through the wonderful world of creating picture books using their own words and pictures. This ocean commotion allows children to play, think and create and imagine what they can do to “be the change they want to ‘sea’ in the world“. Dressing up is always lots of fun too! Workshop details and booking information are below and on my website at: https://drsuepillans.com/education/workshops/

Our two workshops are being held in Brisbane during the September School Holidays:

  1. Monday 25th September 2017 from 10:00am – 11:30am at Books@Stones at Stones Corner, event information and bookings here:

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/dr-suzie-starfish-and-mermaid-michelle-creative-stem-class-for-kids-tickets-36018030900?aff=erelexpmlt

2. Wednesday 27th September 2017 from 9:30am – 10:30am at Redlands IndigiScapes Centre, Capalaba, event information and bookings here:

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/under-the-sea-school-holiday-workshop-tickets-36017932606?aff=erelexpmlt

You can dive in with me as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram. Please don’t hesitate to contact me (sue.pillans@internode.on.net) if you would like us to visit your school or group or would like to attend one of our”Under the Sea” Workshops.

The Art of Storytelling

The past few months have seen me busy ‘drawing out’ the discussions, ideas and presentations of people, teams and organisations focusing on a wide range of issues from: enhancing the welfare of our Returned and Services League (RSL), leadership of Queensland nursing and midwifery through to wine strategies, research commercialisation and Far North Queensland education. You can now SEE how I capture these important group discussions in a time-lapse video which was taken of me graphic recording at the UniQuest Research Commercialisation Workshop — which shows how I visually capture two days of workshop discussions and presentations in just 97 secondshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUzu9Ew-O2A&t=12s

The art of my visual storytelling is all about listening + interpreting + synthesising information which I then translate into words and pictures = YOUR Story. This visual approach is a powerful way of engaging with people as I am considered an independent in the room and only draw what I hear which allows teams, groups, clients and stakeholders with the unique opportunity to be heard. By capturing discussions I am also able to show people the ‘Big Picture’ and take people on a journey vs the standard Powerpoint approach. The visuals that I create are also an important communication tool which can be used throughout and post-workshops, conferences and meetings as a point of reflection, a visual representation to share with others and a reminder of the key messages and outcomes from the day.

You can see more of my visual storytelling and client stories via my Graphic Recording and please don’t hesitate to contact me at sue.pillans@internode.on.net if you would like me to help you or your organisation to “Picture your ideas“! You can also follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Sketchnote your Science!

As a scientist, artist and graphic recorder I use my skills and experience to provide Creative Education for kids, students, teachers and educators. I literally ‘draw upon’ my research, professional experiences and the Australian Curriculum to create visual stories and STEM-related learning activities — where I enthusiastically put the “A” into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTs and Mathematics)! This year I introduced a new visual learning technique into my school visits, “Sketchnote your Science“, which I deliver as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish.

I use Sketchnote your Science in Schools to help students and teachers to visualise SCIENCE. Sketchnotes are visual notes created from a mixture of hand-drawn words and pictures which can include visual elements of typography, shapes and lines. Drawing is thinking so this technique helps to make learning and science visual. Because…“When you draw you remember more!” AND what a great reaction I have had from high school science students and teachers! The photos show how you can put fun into science and learning with just a pen and paper!

Here is some great feedback received from one of the teachers I visited, “Dr Starfish tailored a session for us on the tagging and life cycle of The Green Turtle using ‘Sketchnote’ a visual learning tool of drawing pictures, labels and links, to better retain and recall our scientific content”. Teachers in Western Australia have now started using this technique after my school visits with amazing student science sketchnote results, which you can see via the link below!

The beauty of this visual learning technique is that it can also be used in any group/team situation to help visualise ideas and understanding. Let me know if I can help your classroom, school or group to “picture your ideas“. You can ‘sea’ more of my visual learning technique for schools and groups via Sketchnote your Science and follow my creative journey via @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Drawn to Conserve our Ocean

I’m delighted to be able to show you the latest infographic I created for CSIRO which now appears in the new book by Elsevier, Conservation for the Anthropocene Ocean. Conservation for the Anthropocene Ocean: Interdisciplinary Science in Support of Nature and People emphasises strategies to better connect the practice of marine conservation with the needs and priorities of a growing global human population. I created this infographic to help illustrate Chapter 20 ‘The Future of Modeling to Support Conservation Decisions in the Anthropocene Ocean’. Anthropocene relates to the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

As you know the health and future of our oceans is close to my heART so I was thrilled when I was asked to ‘draw out’ a chapter focusing on conservation decisions for our oceans! It is so important that we work together using all the information, technology and know how we have so we can find better ways for people and nature to co-exist for our Blue Planets future. Thank you to Dr Eva Plaganyi-Lloyd, one of the co-authors of Chapter 20, for giving me this great opportunity to use the art of marine science to picture this important topic. And as I love to live my life in colour this infographic came to life using my favourite markers by Copic.

You can ‘sea’ more of my Infographics & Illustrations and follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Sea our Storytelling for Kids!

What an ocean commotion we made at our “Under the Sea” workshop for kids (of all ages) these school holidays! Mermaid Michelle (aka. Michelle Worthington International award-winning children’s author ) and my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish used the art of marine science storytelling to talk about plastic pollution in our oceans. Marine debris and litter is one of the challenges our oceans and sea creatures are facing as people ‘trash where they splash’! We talked about how long it takes for plastics to break down. Did you know it takes 10 – 1000 years for a plastic bag to decompose?!! So what can we do about it? The kids all knew how, by calling out “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (…and Refuse)!” To put our recycling to work we created some amazing looking jellyfish art by re-using plastic bags!

Mermaid Michelle then took the group through the process of creating your own picture book story using jellyfish as the main character. Michelle took us through the steps of writing stories with messages of hope. We even got to hear some of the stories from jellyfish flying through space, jellyfish singing too loud and jellyfish in search of their love hearts! There were some great ideas for some best-selling kids picture books in the room which made us laugh and cry! WOW!

Mermaid Michelle and I had a FIN-tastic day with the group and we can’t wait to dive in and make a splash with children of all ages next school holidays! A special thank you to our helpers from the Share your Story Tribe. You can find out more about our upcoming creative STEM workshops via my Workshops (September school holiday workshop details coming soon!) and at Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Best fishes and mermaid kisses from Mermaid Michelle and Dr Suzie Starfish!

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Picturing the Strategy for the Top End!

I am so lucky in my job to be able to draw out ideas in great places with passionate people and drawing in the Top End is always a great experience! I was recently part of an experienced team of consultants engaged by the Northern Territory Government to help facilitate (and picture) stakeholder discussions to develop the Territory’s first Coastal and Marine Management Strategy. The Strategy will ensure the health and viability of the Top End’s coast and seas, support their use by Territorians for recreational and cultural purposes, manage growing demand for natural resources and foster sustainable industry. The development of this Strategy is a work-in-progress and it was a great privilege for me to picture these initial and important discussions with stakeholders.

It is always a great feeling in my job to ‘sea’ how people react to and engage with my visuals and at this workshop I received the best feedback – that my visuals helped participants to ‘sea’ the journey they were on in developing this Strategy together. Visual storytelling is a powerful way of communicating and engaging with groups, stakeholders and clients so you can ALL ‘sea’ the big picture! A BIG thank you to Grahame Byron and Sue Sargent for inviting me to be part of this Exceptional Consulting Team! You can ‘sea’ more of my visual storytelling with Government groups, teams and organisations at my Graphic Recording.

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

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: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/dr-suzie-starfish-and-mermaid-michelle-creative-writing-stem-class-for-kids-tickets-33139105958

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