1. What has your studied in Marine biology taught you about the world?
There are so many things I have learned about our ocean and the many ways we as humans are connected to it. I’ve also learned a whole lot about climate and how changes in the environment are affecting our oceans. Even if you don’t leave near the ocean, these changes will also affect you; I know this since I come from the literal desert right across the border and lived most of my life there.
2. What are some things you want people to know who might not have your educational background?
The first is I want people to know that even if you don’t have training as a scientist or marine scientist, you can still make a difference in conservation and helping the planet. By making sure to listen to experts scientists on specific topics, you can get better information than what Google or just the media talk about. There is a lot of incorrect information out there, and you can help just by informing yourself! There are unfortunately many organizations out there that have good intentions for saving animals, but many times they do not have an expert scientist who has worked with them. This can lead to more harm then good. Second, anyone can become a scientist! You don’t have to be super “smart” or “nerdy”. If you like design, for example, there’s a lot of ways you can apply that to scientific studies (i.e. making infogaphics, making boring charts and graphs look interesting, designing a good poster, etc.). There are also different types of scientists, including those who do research, those who communicate, those who work in law and policy, etc. There’s a lot more to choose from than being a professor!
3. Where do you get your inspiration as an artist?
I get a lot of my inspiration from nature, but aside from that, I get inspiration from other artists and styles. I browse Pinterest A LOT (haha) to experiment with different references, looks, and designs. Most of my illustrations are wildlife illustrations, so I like to take the time to study as many different animals, plants, and habitats as possible.
4. What are some environmental problems you wished more people took the time to learn about?
I really wish people would take more time to learn about sustainable fishing, aquaculture, and marine conservation in general. There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to topics like shark finning, using plastic nets, and what “sustainable” really means in scientific terms. There’s a lot to unpack there, but if we don’t have the right information and just go around signing overly generalized petitions for the government to stop hunting sharks or banning all fishing, that’s only going to create more problems rather than solve anything. It takes time, collaboration, and years of study to understand all the complexities behind fishing, protecting certain species, etc., which is why we need to listen to scientists who have been working in these areas/topics. Also, don’t forget the social aspect of science; whether we like it or not, these topics are fundamentally wrapped around people and their cultures. If we don’t foster a mutual understanding of others’ cultures, there’s no way anyone is going to listen.
5. What has been your biggest success story as an artist?
I’m not sure I have one. I’m still learning and am still somewhat new to the art world. I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a child, but I put that on hold in college because I wanted to focus on my science career. I stopped creating, and that made me miserable. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago I realized that I don’t have to sacrifice that part of myself to be a successful scientist. Science and art are practically the same (with a few differences of course). So maybe my greatest success has been the realization of the sense of self. I am both an artist and scientist. I sell my art and I have my own business. I use my art for science communication. And I am also a professional scientist.
6. Plans for 2022?
My plans for 2022 are to start expanding on my art by creating on Youtube! I’m also looking forward to transition into a full-time career in fisheries and/or marine conservation. I want to continue using my art as a way to give people hope and educate them on marine conservation.
7. What would you tell others who want to do what you do?
For anyone out there who wants to do what I’m doing…if you have any doubts about whether or not you can do it, let me tell you right now, you can. As I said before, I come from the desert. I never imagined I’d be working on marine biology and conservation as I am now. I thought to myself “How is there any way a little Latina girl from a city with no water supposed to help the ocean?” I thought I’d never get there, but here I am. You don’t have to be super smart. You don’t have to live near the ocean, or lakes, forests. You just have to have curiosity, a love for nature, and the compassion needed to understand that science involves all of us.
8. And finally where can people find you on the internet?
You can find me here: IG https://www.instagram.com/marinebioartist/
And soon youtube! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNzUsjUW4pgKAE4PkGht11g
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Tatiana Stec is the Co-Founder and Creative director at All Ages of Geek. You can follow her on Twitter @Tatiana_Stec