Picture your ideas

As a visual storyteller I get so much joy engaging with people, teams and organisations to help “Picture your ideas“. I am available to anyone wanting to learn the art of visual storytelling, from drawing out your ideas to creating visual stories. My sessions are tailored to meet your needs as everyone has different visual needs and 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!

My visual storytelling approach ‘draws’ upon my diverse career in science, government and research, coupled with my artistic and active listening skills. I utilise creative thinking approaches to help people see the “BIG picture” and take people on a journey.

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Visual storytelling can also help to create and share your strategies and strategic direction as you can visualise your objectives, see the gaps and duplications and ultimately picture the way forward. So visuals are a powerful way of engaging with your audience, any audience.

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Depending on your visual needs and location I can hold in-house tailored sessions and workshops to help communicate your stories and cover any topic, issue and information for individuals, teams, organisations or workshops at events. These sessions may also be carried out virtually using your own in-house 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).

My sessions and workshops are tailored to meet your visual needs and are highly interactive and hands-on. 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!

Dr Sue Pillans drawings

My sessions and workshops cover a number of creative and visual thinking approaches:

  • ‘Picture your ideas’ – visual thinking and storytelling workshops
  • Science communication and environment workshops
  • Storytelling workshops for authors/illustrators
  • Making a COMM-ocean for kids workshops
  • Sketchnoting for team building and bonding (fun drawing!)

You can ‘sea’ examples of my visual storytelling sessions and workshops below.

Making a COMM-ocean!

As a marine scientist and science communicator I love engaging with people of all ages in the wonders of our oceans through my visual storytelling. I communicate my deep love of the ocean and the environment through the art of marine science and storytelling workshops, as outlined below:

  • Creative STEAM activities about the ocean (art, storytelling, creating stories)
  • Science Communication (How to make a Comm-Ocean!)
  • Communication to protect the environment
  • Sketchnote your Science (no drawing experience necessary)


Below is a list of workshops that I hold or present at throughout the year, so dive in and make a splash with me! 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 or group.

My Workshops

National Education Summit – 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 Workshops

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.

Sketchnote your Science Workshops

I hold Sketchnote your Science workshops in schools for students and teachers (but not limited to schools or educators) to help visualise SCIENCE and learning. 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!”. My in-house workshops are tailor-made to your school (aligned to the Australian Curriculum), groups, teams, organisations and events.

From time to time I am also invited to share my Sketchnote your Science experiences online. For example I was honoured to host an International Sketchnote Hangout (#29) to talk to the sketchnote community and educators about my experiences and journey to “Sketchnote your Science in Schools“, which you can see more at Sketchnote Hangouts.


You can find out more about this VISUAL learning technique at my Sketchnote your science.

Making a reef COMM-ocean Workshops

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 to protect the environment Seminars

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 Workshops

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 Workshops

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 (upcoming workshops will appear below soon…).


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

Children’s Author & Illustrator Seminars

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