• Monterey Bay Aquarium

    Monterey Bay Aquarium

  • UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

    UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

  • Seacliff at Sunset in Santa Cruz, California

    Seacliff at Sunset in Santa Cruz, California

  • Santa Cruz, California Boardwalk

    Santa Cruz, California Boardwalk

  • Purple Shoreline Crab, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

    Purple Shoreline Crab, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Guild of Natural Science Illustrators
Conference & Annual Meeting

July 3 - 9, 2016

Join us in sunny Santa Cruz, California, for the 38th annual Guild of Natural Science Illustrators’ conference! This year’s rendezvous will be held at the University of California, Santa Cruz campus—home of the infamous banana slug mascot. We have an exciting week planned, with a wealth of experience and talent you won’t want to miss.

The 2016 conference will convene Sunday, July 3rd through Saturday, July 9th.

The three-day core event runs Monday through Wednesday and includes presentations by some of the top visual interpreters in the country, a portfolio sharing, a collaborative chalk mural event, and demonstrations of techniques. On Tuesday evening we’ll host a lively auction to benefit the Guild’s education fund, and on Wednesday we’ll top off the core event with a presentation of the new online exhibit and an elegant awards banquet.

Plenary Speakers, Presentations and Field Trips

Our plenary speakers include Terryl Whitlatch, creature design extraordinaire and artist for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace; Dr. David Goodsell, microbiologist and talented visualizer of the nanoscale world; and Breck Tyler, an avid seabird biologist with 40 years of experience observing birds and mammals in the Pacific. John Muir Laws will enlighten us with the science behind nature journaling and how important it is for artists to have this observational tool. Jane Kim, media sensation and founder of Ink Dwell studio, will share her extraordinary efforts to inspire people to love and protect the earth—including her two and 1/2 year effort to create the Wall of Birds mural. Wendy Hiller Gee will highlight the importance of health and science literacy through her medical illustration practice. Last but not least, Marc Paisin will give us a lighthearted visual overview of copyright law—how to stay out of trouble and how to license your work.

Following the plenary speakers in the mornings, there will be three afternoons packed with 50-minute presentations and 2-hour mini workshops by more than 45 experts in a wide variety of technical and scientific concepts. On Thursday and Friday, half-day and full-day workshops will offer valuable opportunities to improve your skills and advance your career in science illustration, ranging from watercolor to Photoshop to marketing strategies.

In case you’re itching to get out of the classroom, there will be numerous field trips to choose from, including a day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row, kayaking in Elkhorn Slough, whale watching in Monterey Bay, a behind-the-scenes tour of UCSC’s Seymour Discovery Center and Long Marine Lab, tide pooling at Natural Bridges State Park, hiking in the redwoods at Henry Cowell State Park, and wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Be sure to sign up in advance; the popular field trips tend to fill up early.

Beautiful Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is more than just a typical California beach town. Situated at the north end of Monterey Bay, the city borders on one of the nation’s most spectacular marine sanctuaries. The bay is home to a rich array of wildlife in estuarine, intertidal, kelp forest, seamount, and deep-sea ecosystems. A steep marine canyon begins at Moss Landing in the middle of the bay and extends in a fan shape approximately 95 miles west into the Pacific; its deepest point is more two miles below the surface. This unique geography favors upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water, which in turn supports an astonishing mosaic of life—from tiny phytoplankton to great blue whales.

The UC Santa Cruz campus is situated on a hill above the city at the intersection of oak savanna and redwood forest. The campus’s mascot, an endemic species of banana slug, is sometimes seen gliding across the detritus on the forest floor, along with a variety of mushrooms (a mycologist’s delight), prehistoric-looking ferns, and a cornucopia of avian species. The coast redwoods are some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world, growing to heights over 110 m and living over 2,000 years. Redwood foliage is specially designed to collect moisture from the air—particularly on foggy days. The biodiversity of the Santa Cruz area, combined with its mild Mediterranean climate, make it a great place to explore and sketch in the outdoors.

On-campus housing will be available at UC Santa Cruz’s Cowell College at reasonable rates, well below any rates at nearby hotels in the area. A full meal plan will be included with on-campus housing. The Cowell apartments and dorms are within walking distance to the conference classrooms, dining hall, campus bookstore, and athletic facilities. Santa Cruz’s bus system is fairly reliable and runs to and from downtown every half hour. Parking permits will be provided with on-campus housing packages, and can also be purchased separately.

Camaraderie and Learning

GNSI members say the best thing about the conferences is the camaraderie and friendships. There’s no doubt about it—the GNSI conference is a powerful networking opportunity. It’s a chance for both employed and aspiring science illustrators around the globe to come together and share collective experiences, tips, and tricks of the trade. Gain valuable knowledge from GNSI presentations and workshops that you simply can’t get anywhere else. Explore the rich habitats of the Santa Cruz area and Monterey Bay on one of our numerous field trips. Come with your sketchbook and open mind. Leave a little wiser, more inspired, and with a new outlook toward your own work!

—Fiona Martin, 2016 Conference Communications Chair

About the Guild

The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (GNSI) is a nonprofit organization that encourages high standards of competence and professionalism among members and offers aspiring illustrators opportunities and skills needed to succeed in their careers. Originally established in 1968 at the Smithsonian, the GNSI has since grown to encompass science illustrators in many disciplines, and welcomes members with varying skill levels in traditional and digital media. The one thing members have in common is a love for science and the natural world—and a passion for communicating scientific concepts to the larger public.


University Santa Cruz Logo
Monterey Bay Marine Exploration Center Logo
dbShaw Studios Logo
Lenz Art Logo

We welcome SPONSORS! Contact the GNSI Sponsorship Chairperson to support the 2016 GNSI Conference.