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“[T]he visual communication of science is growing increasingly important.”

June 9, 2016

Today’s issue of the weekly science journal Nature includes an excellent article about the value of science illustration. You can read it here.

The author writes about specific collaborations between researchers and illustrators to illustrate the idea that the benefits of a good illustration are worth an investment of time and money:

Visually stunning representations that result from collaborations between scientists and artists can grab millions of online views, and attract a much wider audience than a non-illustrated paper, both of which are particularly useful for researchers whose grant applications or funding proposals require them to show a public-outreach component. They are also more likely to be written about and shared digitally, helping to raise the visibility of a scientist’s work, attract more students to a lab, boost career standing and improve chances of garnering funding. They can even inspire new experiments — or reveal gaps in knowledge.

One example cited in the article is my collaboration with scientist Jessica Linton; you can see the resulting illustration and read about it here.

 

Spotlight on sea creatures

May 9, 2016

This year I’ve been illustrating a variety of marine animals for the scuba diving magazine Sport Diver. For each issue, Richard Smith writes an article focusing on a different animal or group of animals. He offers interesting facts and stories about the organism(s), and my illustrations accompany them. Here are the paintings I’ve done so far, all of them with watercolor and gouache paints:

Illustration of Bargibant's pygmy seahorse © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Bargibant’s pygmy seahorse © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Christmas tree worm © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Christmas tree worm © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Yellow-banded pipefish © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Yellow-banded pipefish © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of manatee © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of manatee © Emily S. Damstra

Two new coins – hawk and cougar

March 7, 2016

I designed these two new releases from the Royal Canadian Mint:

Bullion coin designed by Emily S. Damstra

Cougar bullion coin designed by Emily S. Damstra

The background field on this silver bullion coin has fine lines radiating from the center, which is a nice effect (though a bit difficult to capture in a photograph). Bullion coins are available from coin dealers but not directly from the Mint.

Red-tailed hawk coin designed by Emily S. Damstra

Red-tailed hawk coin designed by Emily S. Damstra

You can see the full specs for this silver coin here. The box it comes in shows my original drawing on the front:

box for red-tailed hawk coin

box for red-tailed hawk coin

Polar Bear Fatness Index

February 26, 2016

Last year I had the opportunity to produce some illustrations for Polar Bears International, an organization devoted to conserving polar bears through research and education. My illustrations of polar bears in various states of fitness became part of a scorecard used to assess body condition. It helps people who observe a bear to visually determine its body condition in the most standardized way possible. Below are three of the ten illustrations. Happy International Polar Bear Day (Feb. 27)!

Polar bear illustrations © Emily S. Damstra

Polar bear illustrations © Emily S. Damstra

 

An Arctic hare at full speed, in silver

February 19, 2016

Last year I received an invitation from the Royal Canadian Mint last year to submit a coin design featuring a Canadian hare in action. I thought it would be interesting to show an arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) running at full speed, a behavior employed when a predator is in pursuit.

The 34 mm silver coin has just been released:

$50 for $50 Fine Silver Coin - Hare (2016) designed by Emily Damstra

$50 for $50 Fine Silver Coin – Hare (2016) designed by Emily Damstra

I illustrated a ground-level view of an adult hare sprinting across rocky tundra as it attempts to outrun or outmaneuver the pursuing arctic wolf. The significant distance between the wolf and hare adds to the uncertainty about how the chase concludes. Arctic hares are an important food source for arctic wolves, which are the only predators that would typically hunt adult hares. Even so, the outcome of the pursuit is just as likely to be that the wolf gives up, unable to catch the speedy and evasive hare. I think it’s a dignified way to show the hare because running fast is something that it’s well-adapted to do; if it didn’t have a chance against the wolf then arctic hares would have become extinct long ago.

The certificate that comes with the coin shows my original drawing:

Arctic hare coin illustration by Emily damstra

Arctic hare coin illustration by Emily Damstra

Interpretive sign illustration at Royal Botanical Gardens

November 23, 2015
Illustration of Princess Point settlement © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Princess Point settlement © Emily S. Damstra

A few years ago I created this illustration showing the first people to introduce corn to Southern Ontario around AD 500 – 1000. This culture was first identified (or at least, described) at Princess Point, part of the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) in Burlington, Ontario. Now, the illustration is part of an interpretive sign at the RBG:

Photograph c/o Tÿs Theÿsmeÿer, Royal Botanical Gardens

Photograph c/o Tÿs Theÿsmeÿer, Royal Botanical Gardens

The photo shows a view of Cootes Paradise, with the T. B. McQuesten Memorial Bridge in the background. The interpretive sign was prepared under the direction of Barbara McKean, RBG’s Head of Education, who also wrote the copy. The right-hand panel on the sign depicts part of a Princess Point Complex pot; the photo was kindly provided by Dr. David Smith at University of Toronto – Mississauga. The layout was prepared by Irene Feddema of IFdesign Inc. in Burlington.

2016 Coin of the Year awards

November 17, 2015

Last week I was happy to learn that one of my coin designs received a 2016 Coin of the Year Award. It’s this colored silver coin showing an autumn view into the canopies of three tall silver maples:

1 oz Fine Silver coin - Maple Canopy: Autumn Allure - designed by Emily s. Damstra

1 oz Fine Silver coin – Maple Canopy: Autumn Allure – designed by Emily S. Damstra

See my original post about the coin here.

The Coin of the Year Award is a worldwide competition created and organized by the publisher Krause Publications. An international panel of judges chooses the award recipients. You can see all of the 2016 category winners from around the world, including the maple canopy, here. The 2016 competition is for coins minted in 2014.

We’ll find out in January which coin wins the overall Coin of the Year Award.

Krause Publications is known for its catalogs and guides to coins and currency, among other subjects. In fact, one of their recent offerings is a book showcasing all of the Coin of the Year Award winners from the contest’s inception in 1984 through the 2015 Awards. Coin of the Year: Celebrating Three Decades of the Best in Coin Design and Craftsmanship is a real visual treat. It contains superb photographs of every award winning coin and text by coin expert Donald Scarinci. Scarinci is a lawyer and numismatic enthusiast with a collection of coins that includes nearly all of those photographed for his book. He serves on the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (which makes recommendations for United States coins) and is a nominating judge for the Coin of the Year Award.

Speaking as someone who cares about artists’ rights and has occasionally had to stand up for hers, I was disappointed to see that the book identifies only a small percentage of the artists and engravers whose works fill the pages. Perhaps this omission can be remedied in a future edition, at least as far as that is possible. Even so, I found the book to be an inspiring compilation of coin designs that had me wondering what type of direction each artist received and the thought process that led to his/her final design.

 

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