Creative seminars

Creative seminars and workshops

As a visual communicator I get so much joy sharing my experiences about the power of using visual storytelling to communicate and engage with audiences. My visual storytelling seminars and workshops range from learning how to draw out your ideas and creating visual stories to communicating complex information in a simple and compelling way.

As my alter ego Dr Dr Suzie Starfish (Children’s Author/illustrator) I also hold visual storytelling workshops and seminars for aspiring authors/illustrators and love making a comm-ocean with kids through my ocean storytelling school visits, presentations and workshops, which you can ‘sea’ more of at Creative education and Picture books.

My seminars and workshops are tailored to meet your needs as everyone visualises information differently, so you will communicate differently. AND my workshops are not ‘drawing workshops’ but workshops where you will learn to ‘draw out’ information. So NO drawing experience is necessary!

You can see more about the details of the Visual Workshops I offer, and below is an outline of the range of creative and visual seminars and workshops I hold, with some FIN-tastic feedback from attendees. Please Contact me if you have any questions about my seminar or workshops.

Positive Behaviour for Learning Conference_DrSuePillans2022

Positive Behaviour for Learning Conference_Education_graphic recording_DrSuePillans2022

Tailored seminars and workshops

Depending on your visual needs and location I hold in-house tailored seminars and workshops to help communicate your stories and cover any topic, issue and information for individuals, teams, organisations or break-out workshops at events. My workshops are:

  • Tailored to your visual needs
  • Highly interactive and hands-on
  • Provide visual icons, templates and exercises tailored to your organisation (worked examples)
  • Provide hands-on demonstrations of your worked examples
  • Leave you with a visual toolkit that you and your teams can apply directly to your work/projects

My visual storytelling workshops are NOT about being an artist, instead they are about sharing ways in which you can authentically connect with your audience and communicate your story through words and pictures. So NO drawing experience is necessary. I believe everyone can draw, and if you can draw a line then you can draw and you CAN picture your ideas!

*These sessions may also be carried out virtually using your own online platforms, however this will depend upon your visual needs and the number of people involved (as additional time and preparations are required to host virtual sessions).

Dr Sue Pillans drawings

Examples of Seminars and Workshops:

Below are examples of some of my visual storytelling seminars and workshops. Please Contact me if you would like further information about my workshops and if you would like Dr Suzie Starfish to visit your school, kindy, library or group.

Sketchnote your Science (and any topic)

I hold Sketchnote your Science workshops to help visualise science and provide a visual thinking tool to help make the complex simple and the simple compelling through the use of words and pictures. 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 more visual, as “when you draw you remember more”!

Sketchnote workshops are for anyone wanting to learn a new visual thinking approach as sketchnotes can be used to visualise ANY topic, information and project. As a marine scientist I have a deep devotion for helping to communicate ocean science, so I love diving into workshops focusing on sketchnoting your science to make a comm-ocean!

“Sketchnote your Science” workshops can be held in schools for students and teachers (as a PD workshop) wanting to learn a new visual learning approach and for scientists and researchers wanting to communicate their science to different audiences. My in-house sketchnote workshops are tailor-made to your school, group, teams, organisations and events (such as workshops at conferences etc).

Creativity in the classroom

I was so excited to be invited to present and draw at the National Education Summit held in Brisbane for the first time! I presented and pictured three seminars below for educators (which included PD points for teachers):

The response from teachers and educators was amazing and I always love to hear from teachers that “we really need you in the classroom”! It was also great to hear how Microsoft are using technology in the classroom to help EVERY student access education. I would just like to know now how I can use my ‘visual thinking’ and  transform it into ‘digital inking’ to help EVERY student picture their ideas.

Please Contact me if you would like to know more about my creative education seminars, talks and workshops for educators and students (events, in-house and tailored workshops, school visits).


Science Communication

Drawing on my experiences as a marine scientist, government policy-maker, artist and visual storyteller I now hold in-house Science Communication Workshops for scientists and researchers, policy-makers, students (of all ages) and anyone wanting to learn more about how they can make a COMM-ocean or communicate environmental messages! Communication in this digital age of data, swipes, likes and follows needs to stand out if you want to have meaningful engagement with your audience. Science communication today means more than just increasing knowledge, your messages need to tell a story, hook people and reel them in!

In my interactive and highly visual workshops I share my experiences in research and development, using science to help inform government decision-making and how to use visual storytelling to engage with your audience. My experiences in marine science and environment storytelling are applicable to any science communication as I highlight the key elements of good science communication, and how you can make a comm-ocean by:

  • Sharing your knowledge in a way that creates excitement about science (or the environment)
  • Building trust and relationships with your audience
  • Reframing controversial issues from doom and gloom to messages of hope
  • Draw out your story
  • ALWAYS being authentic!!

For more information about my Science Communication and Visual Thinking workshops please Contact me.

Making a COMM-ocean!

The retreat concluded with a final workshop ‘How to make a Comm-OCEAN,’ led by science communication super-star, Dr Sue Pillans. Students visualised their research with a sketch lesson and learned how to communicate to different audiences using storytelling. Sue demonstrated how using art and creative thinking can complement scientific research and help scientists have an impact in the real world“, Lucy Rosamund, PhD student, Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

What a great time I had making a comm-ocean with the reef scientists of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies! This workshop focused on the art and science of marine storytelling so these inspiring scientists could share their reef science with a broad audience (other than scientists). I shared my experiences of communicating marine science with policy and decision-makers, school students, community and stakeholders and introduced the group to my world of visual storytelling.

I then took the postgraduates through the steps to visualise their science using Sketchnotes as sketchnotes are a great way to help synthesise, structure and share your science. You can ‘sea’ more of the reef sketchnotes over at Sketchnote your Science. And as you can see from the photos and fin-tastic feedback below we had a great time together making a visual comm-ocean!!



Communicating for the environment

I was delighted to be invited to present at the Network of Environmental and Social Scientists (NESS) Annual Forum held at The University of Queensland, which focused on “Communicating to protect the environment“. I presented on “How to make a comm-ocean” using the art and science of storytelling, whilst also live sketchnoting the other presentations. What a great day of storytelling to communicate to protect the environment.


Words & Pictures Storytelling

I was excited to present at the “Words and Pictures Workshop for Author/Illustrators” hosted by Michelle Worthington of Share your Story. I shared my story through a ‘Storyboard’ of my words and pictures about how I have followed my saltwater heART to become a published Author/Illustrator — about the upcoming release of my debut kids picture book about our Great Barrier Reef. Such an inspiring day with this very talented bunch!


Under the Sea (for kids)

Dr Suzie Starfish and Mermaid Michelle, award-winning children’s author Michelle Worthington, hold “Under the Sea” writing workshops with a difference! Designed for children of all abilities who have an interest in making up stories and learning about science, these workshops are an interactive experience with storytelling, story writing and STEAM activities. Children are encouraged to dress up and join in the fun with the hour-long session to engage children in creative thinking and arts and crafts Under the Sea. We will be wearing our ocean outfits and we can’t wait to “sea” you at our next workshop.


You can find out more about my kids picture book writing and illustrating at my Picture books.

Children’s Author/Illustrator’s

I was delighted to be one of the presenters at the Children’s Author and Illustrator Seminar, as part of the Share your Story 2017 series of professional development workshops, hosted by Michelle Worthington. I shared my story of becoming a published kids picture book author/illustrator of science stories of the sea – via live sketchnoting! As you can ‘sea’ from the photos we had  great day together sharing our stories!


You can find out more about my kids picture book writing and illustrating at my Picture books.

MeetUps to Sketchnote your ideas

I love an opportunity to share what I do with others, particularly in a social situation where people can talk, share and ‘draw out’ their ideas. As one of my goals is to be part of and support Creative Collaborations I decided to hold my first Drink & Draw in Brisbane to help people “Picture their goals” for 2017. And what a great night we had with plenty of pens, paper, iPads and a few drinks = some great sketchnoting and a lot of laughs! Please Contact me if you are interested having me host a social Sketchnoting MeetUp for work or play.

if you would like to attend or engage me for a creative & visual Workshop.

*Please note my images, content and graphics need to be attributed to me and remain unaltered unless written permission is given as all graphics, content and images are Copyright © 2023 Dr Sue Pillans