illustrating science

Join us Thursday, April 15, at 7 pm PT for a free NightSchool livestream!

Science has always relied on the skilled work of illustrators to help people better explain the world around them. Learn about the history of scientific illustration from the 1500s to today, and how visual artists have helped further our understanding of unseeable phenomena, microscopic organisms, and ecosystems we can’t travel to ourselves.


  • How do scientific illustrators go about representing things that can’t be directly observed? With the help of examples from Scientific American, Senior Graphics Editor Jen Christiansen demonstrates how illustration can help make wildly abstract topics in science—like quantum physics—more tangible to more people.
  • Images have been central to science for hundreds of years. Daniela Bleichmar, Professor of Art History at University of Southern California, shows off highlights from the amazing history of scientific illustration from the 1500s through the 1700s, including work by non-Western, indigenous, and women artists and naturalists.
  • Dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, but paleoart—the practice of depicting prehistoric animals as they looked in life—is surprisingly new. Zoë Lescaze, the author of Paleoart: Visions of the Prehistoric Past, delves into the early years of the genre, examining how 19th-century attempts to reconstruct primordial species were often blends of scientific fact and unbridled imagination.
  • Researchers at the cutting-edge of science already have a big enough job describing their efforts—more and more they’re hiring scientific illustrators to create graphics to illustrate their innovative studies. Misaki Ouchida, an in-house science illustrator at one of Japan’s leading stem cell research institutes, talks about her experience and work, and discusses why the demand is growing for science art and illustration.

All NightLife virtual programming is intended for audiences 21+.



Missed the party? Just want to relive the magic? Watch the recorded livestreams on YouTube!


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April 29th at 7:00 pm

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May 6th at 7:00 pm

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