Guild of Natural Science Illustrators

Virtual Conference 2020
Dates: Aug 8 & 9th, 2020


The Presentations By Date and Session

Saturday, August 8th

Session 1 - Creativity in the Time of Covid: 9-12 pm PDT/12-3 pm EDT on Crowdcast

Picture of Schuler holding a pangolin in her hands

Pangolins and the Wildlife Trade in the Time of Covid-19
Katie Schuler, Documentary Filmmaker

Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are small mammals native to tropical Asia and Africa. The protected species and its products are illegally traded for Chinese medicine and have been implicated as a potential intermediate host for COVID-19 transmission to humans. This presentation will detail the making of the documentary film "The Tragic Tale of a Pangolin, the World’s Most Trafficked Animal", which was featured on National Geographic.

Illustration of a cross-sectioned corona virus

COVID-19: Visualizing a Moving Target
Jennifer Fairman, CMI and Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Art as Applied to Medicine Program

Ever since Maryland's "Stay at home" order, Jeni has been knee-deep in COVID-19 visualizations. Many of her JHU and AMI colleagues have been inundated with COVID-19 assignments in what has seemed like a race to understand the virus structure, life-cycle, and potential therapies. Jeni will share her COVID-19 story by explaining what she and her colleagues have learned and created in order to help the public best understand the current pandemic.

illustration of a person wearing a mask pushing a grocery cart

An Animated Discussion: Adapting Pandemic Messaging for South Side Chicago Youth 
Quinn Burrell, Artist at Game Changer Chicago

Quinn will be recounting her experience creating an educational animation about Covid-19 directed at young people who are often missed by mainstream media. She will address the efforts that she and her team took to be inclusive and innovative with their messaging on this highly saturated topic, and the challenges of scientific communication on a breaking news issue, discussing the adjustments she made to her work in order to keep up with quickly changing information. This talk will cover both philosophical and technical components related to producing this animation, giving other members concrete ways to adapt the techniques Quinn used to their own projects.



Sunday, August 9th

Session 3 - Adaptive Practices for Visual Creatives: 9-12 pm PDT/12-3 pm EDT on Crowdcast


A New Posture of Freelance Environmental Educators
Tania Marien, Principal of The Freelance Condition and Lifelong Learning in Communities Project and Founder of Talaterra

Time. Money. Office help.
To be taken seriously.

These are some of the things independent environmental educators say they need to create more change. This was before the pandemic. How do things look now?
Let’s find out.

Moving hands-on art courses to an online format
Rachel Basye, Executive Director of The Art Students League of Denver

Art Students League of Denver (ASLD) is an art community that offers a wide depth and breadth of art courses and experiences led by professional artists for people of all ages and abilities. Due to Covid-19, ASLD quickly pivoted to online offerings for all ages, which included training faculty, learning Zoom, providing technical assistance, etc. In this workshop, ASLD will share how this change was done.

The Bridge: An Art-Science Residency Program
Julia Buntaine Hoel, Artist and Founding Director of SciArt Initiative

Collaboration between the arts and sciences is an increasingly popular notion, described as the solution to our 21st-century problems. It is one of the many tangible ways in which art and science can productively interact. Collaborating can generate new ideas and provide new perspectives which can lead to innovation in existing fields or the creation of new ones. But what does collaboration mean? What does it look like, and how does it function? Is it possible to have a two-way collaborative street, or does that even matter? Can art influence science, as science often influences art?

This talk will explore these questions and more in the context of The Bridge, SciArt Initiative's annual, virtual, cross-disciplinary, collaborative residency program.

Cover image with a sea turtle, sea grass and fish

Art as Activism: Creating Meaningful, Collaborative Projects 
Cordelia Norris, Illustrator and Founder of Luna Creative

Drawing upon the "Coloring Nature" series, we'll discuss opportunities to develop creative collaborative projects, based on your interests, to raise awareness and benefit a cause.

Background: In 2018, appalled by the family separation policy at the Southern border, I launched the "Coloring Nature" series. The subject for the first coloring book, nesting birds and their young, alludes to the beauty and sanctity of family, and love between parents and their young. Twenty-five percent of proceeds benefit the Young Center, which provides social and legal services to migrant children.

The second book in the series, "All Along the Atlantic," celebrates marine and coastal life along the North Atlantic coast and is a fundraiser for NC Coastal Federation.

These activity books are designed to celebrate the natural world, be fun and educational, and raise money for a worthy non-profit.

The series is also designed to build community and showcase gifted illustrators. The books are anthologies, and feature work by illustrators from across North America, including many GNSI members.

Topics covered include art as activism, guiding complex remote collaborations, working with authors and subject matter experts, best practices for partnering with a non-profit, as well as project management, marketing, and promotion.


Session 4 - Panel Discussion: Online Teaching and Learning: 2-4 pm PDT/5-7 pm EDT on Crowdcast

Building an Online Audience Using Crowdcast & Teachable
Christine Elder, Science Educator and Visual Artist

Running an online business requires mastering a variety of digital tools to thrive. In this presentation, Christine will focus on sharing her experiences using Crowdcast; a live streaming service, and Teachable; an online course platform.

She has put both of these to extensive use, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. She taught a 12-week series of daily workshops for homeschooling families on nature sketching which helped her business to double its mailing list and triple its paid students.

She will also describe her studio setup used to film and edit both her step-by-step drawing tutorials and her on-camera live presentations.

While she doesn’t consider herself an expert in any one tool, her goal for GNSI participants is to see how the many parts of the online teaching puzzle fit together and to give viewers some tips for getting started.

Using Free and Low-Cost Tools to Create Intimate, Sustained Learning Environments
Gretchen Halpert, Scientific Illustrator and Founder of the Scientific Illustration Distance Program

The Scientific Illustration Distance Program (SIDP) is committed to teaching strong foundational skills in traditional media, using digital components, to small class sizes of: dedicated students; those wishing to improve rendering skills; and the curious who test the waters of natural science illustration. Free and inexpensive tools (Skype, Zoom, Vimeo, DropBox, iMovie) allow easy, effective, small classroom critiques, discussions, and tutorials. During weekly interactive class time, students discuss projects; receive weekly lessons, assignments, and critiques; ask professional practice questions; and become colleagues. Newer tools (document cameras, mobile phones) make live demonstrations possible. Accompanying high-resolution video tutorials make bandwidth issues negligible. Students complete this program with a live internship wherever in the world they live or wish to travel. This spring, internships made successful use of safe-distancing digital tools, simulating many real work environments. Throughout the trimester, students form personal and professional relationships with each other; outside of class, they may interact in a SIDP Facebook group, the GNSI, and other social media venues.  Online courses make learning and networking from anywhere possible. 

Teaching with Zoom
Karen Ackoff, Illustrator and Adjunct Professor at Ivy Tech Community College

Many of us who teach have had to move our classes to an online format, with little time for preparation. My experience at the college level involves teaching classes that are largely computer-based. Zoom is the application provided by many colleges - and is available in free and licensed plans. Zoom enables live lectures/demonstrations via screen sharing of stills and video, recording, holding virtual office hours, remote control of participants’ computers, and messaging. In theory, this is ideal, but there are challenges regarding security, latency, student access to applications and equipment, internet connections, and difficulty or ease of engaging students in the process. I will touch on these issues and provide information on settings to increase security, minimize latency, and make for a positive teaching experience.


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