Frequently Asked Questions

Science Illustration and Illustrators

Guild of Natural Science Illustrators


Science Illustration and Illustrators

What is science illustration?
Science illustration encompasses all forms of visual science communication, including animation, comics, murals, sculpture and even jewelry. It can play a vital role in conveying information from any realm of science, from archaeology to astronomy, botany to cartography, zoology to molecular biology, and many others.
For more information about science illustration, go over to the Learn About It webpage.

Why is a science illustration better than a photograph at visualizing science?
An illustration can simplify comprehension of a specimen better than a photograph by eliminating extraneous detail and clarifying relationships of structures or depict statistical data in a more comprehensible, visual manner. An illustration is also more capable of visualizing small, distant or extinct elements. Illustrators often resource to photography as one of several tools that informs their work.

What do science illustrators do?
Science illustrators work in the service of science, teaching, informing, and fostering understanding of our world. They use a range of visual techniques to communicate science in education, research, public relations, and marketing.
For more information about the work of science illustrators, go over to the Learn About It webpage and to the Careers webpage.

How can I become a science illustrator?
Most professional science illustrators have an advanced degree in life or earth sciences, and formal training in several kinds of visual communication. They need well-honed skills in traditional techniques such as watercolor, acrylics or ink. Familiarity with digital techniques is also important, as many science illustrators produce a wide variety of work including web animations and interactive graphics.
For more information about the training of a science illustrator, go over to the Education webpage and to the Careers webpage.

How can I find science illustration classes where I live?
At the Education webpage, you will find a link to download a list of graduate, undergraduate and single courses in science illustration, in the United States and in other countries. The same page lists the many opportunities that GNSI provides for educational and professional development. Also, remember to check the Events list and calendar where classes and workshops are announced frequently.

How can I find a science illustrator to commission a project?
GNSI members are a talented group of artists with a variety of expertise and spread across the United States and other countries. You can conduct searches in the Member Directory according to the needs of your project and look through the image galleries that feature member artwork. is another excellent resource to find artists for your project.

I would like to interview a science illustrator – can you recommend someone?
GNSI members are often interviewed by the news media and by students considering a career path at the crossroad of science and art. Look through the profiles at the GNSI Member Directory, in particular in the field “Offering”, for members that have stated their willingness to be interviewed.

Guild of Natural Science Illustrators

How do I become a GNSI member?
Anyone with an interest in visual science communication is welcome to join GNSI! You can easily begin by filling out the online form and using a debit/credit card to pay for the membership dues. GNSI has four membership options determined by the format of the quarterly Journal of Natural Science Illustration (print or digital) and the location where you will receive it (the United States or other countries): 

  • USA Print – $95/1 year or $180/2 years
  • Global Print – $115/1 year or $220/2 years
  • Digital Delivery – $75/1 year or $145/2 years

 For more information about becoming a member and membership types, go over to the Join Us webpage.

What are the benefits of being a GNSI member?
Membership benefits include:

For more information about GNSI membership, go over to the Join Us webpage.

How can I get involved with GNSI?
One of the best ways to get involved with GNSI is by becoming a member and attending GNSI events such as the Annual Conference and the Educational Series Workshops. Follow and contribute to the various GNSI social channels: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and SciArt-L Listserv. We are always looking for motivated volunteers, please contact us if you would like to contribute.

What does GNSI provide at no cost?
There is a long list of resources that GNSI makes available at no cost. You can learn about science illustrationcareers and education in the field; discover news and events; enjoy in-depth articles on a variety of subjects; participate in the conversations about science illustration by subscribing to the SciArt-L Listserv.

What do GNSI Chapters and Groups do?
Most Chapters and Groups hold exhibitions and lectures, meetups and outreach activities. The type and frequency of events vary quite a bit from chapter to chapter, and they are fairly self-governed by the chapter officers.
For a list of current GNSI Chapters and Groups and more information about their activities, go over to the Local Chapters webpage.

How do I start a GNSI Chapter or GNSI Group in my area/country?
Forming a Group: we encourage members who are interested in coming together with other members in a structured way to form a GNSI Group and run it for a year or two. This is a way to test the waters without having to go through the formalities of filing for chapter status. Simply draft a letter of intent and send it to the GNSI Membership Director. The minimum number of officers are a President, Secretary, and Treasurer and they all need to be GNSI members in good standing.

Forming a Chapter: once you are ready to make it official, apply for chapter status by: 

  • Calling a meeting of your members.

  • Voting to approve your newly minted Constitution and By-Laws.

  • Electing a President, Secretary, and Treasurer
  • Writing a letter of intent to the GNSI Board of Directors signed by the applying officers

For more information about starting a GNSI Chapter or Group, go over to the Local Chapters webpage and download the GNSI Chapter and Group Guidelines.

Can I submit a proposal to write an article for the Journal of Natural Science Illustration?
Most articles in the Journal of Natural Science Illustration are written by GNSI members, but submissions are welcome at any time and from anyone. We invite articles of all types, either in-depth or brief notes. Proposed articles are reviewed by the editorial staff and, as needed, by GNSI members or other experts. Editors work with the authors on polishing submissions — you don’t have to be an accomplished writer to contribute. Our goal is to publish material that is useful and informative to each and every member.
For more information about the Journal, story ideas, author guidelines and how to submit a proposal, go over to the Journal webpage.