Heidi Gardner-Science on a Postcard
Art Meets Science
Scientific artists or artistic scientists?
By: Heidi Gardner from Science on a Postcard Instagram: @scienceonapostcard
1) Heidi, would you say you are an artist first and a scientist second, or a scientist first and an artist second?
I'm definitely a scientist first! I'm to sure I'd even describe myself as an artist second to be honest, more of a doodler and maker :) I really loved art & design at school, and my family have always been creative - my Dad runs a web design company and my Mum has her own Etsy shop selling greetings cards and gifts (www.teddyperkins.com, and @teddyperkinsemporium on Instagram), but I was much better at science at school. I always chose scientific subjects throughout school, and went to study Pharmacology at undergraduate level; I was really passionate about science, and didn't think I would be able to achieve what I wanted to in creative outlets. Now I get to do both, and the creative stuff is a sort of side hustle, which takes the pressure off.
2) What led you to pick science as your theme?
It came pretty naturally to be honest, I was searching for creative stuff with a science slant for myself and I couldn't find what I was looking for, so I decided to create it! I also find it a really cool way to keep learning - when I'm making something new it requires research into areas of science that I don't specialise in, so I'm learning along the way too.
3) Do you have goals with what you do like educate, inspire, stimulate curiosity, or do you do your art for yourself?
Stimulating curiosity and challenging stereotypes are my two main goals. With things like pin badges I can imagine people wearing them, and then others asking them questions about the badge or the science behind it. For me, facilitating conversation between scientists and non-scientists is really important. It's not necessarily about education to be honest, I don't see that as a role for me, I'm just trying to make it easier for scientists to talk about science with others. Challenging stereotypes is also something I'm really passionate about - I was wearing one of my 'Scientist' pin badges a few weeks ago, and the person next to me on the train asked what I did, ultimately they ended up saying 'please don't take offense, but I wouldn't have imagined you were a scientist before we got talking!' - that made me really happy, because I'd changed their view or perceptions about what a scientist is without it being confrontational or aggressive, it was just a chat on public transport.
4) What aspect of science do you focus on?
I'm not really sure I focus on anything specific right now - my background is in medical sciences so that probably comes through pretty strongly, but I'm working on new designs that encompass physics, ecology, chemistry etc etc. It just takes me a bit longer to get these products right because they're not in my area of expertise, but they are coming!
5) What kind of media do you prefer?
At the moment I work exclusively digitally - I use an iPad Pro and Apple pencil, and clean up designs etc using Illustrator or Photoshop on my laptop. I love this method of creating because it means I can create super crisp lines and transform relatively complex images into something more simplistic - I can also then add my designs to lots of different products. I started out with postcards, and have added notebooks (A5 and A6), tote bags and enamel pin badges. Over the next few months I'm hoping to branch out into additional product lines too, whilst of course adding more designs to the products I currently stock.
6) What is your favorite piece? Tell me about it.
My favourite pieces are the women in science postcards. This project was a collaborations with @nina.draws.scientists, and it was inspired by International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11th) - I realised that I didn't actually know many female scientists at all, so the postcards are something I loved researching for and designing because it gave me the chance to find out more about these brilliant women that I didn't necessarily know about before. I approached Nina about drawing for 3 of the postcards and she was really enthusiastic, the designs she came up with are super sweet and I'm really happy with the final product. All of the profits from the sale of these postcards go towards charities that support women in science/STEM subject areas too - they're for sale here:
7) Do you sell your art? Do you take commissions? Do you have etsy store, or other social media accounts you show art on? If so how would people contact you to talk about these things?
I do indeed! I have an Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shop/scienceonapostcard), and you can find me on Instagram (@scienceonapostcard) too. At the moment I don't take commissions, but I do take Instagram comments/messages etc on board when I'm designing a new product. Some of the products I have, my tote bag for example, was something I wasn't sure about making until a follower contacted me and asked if I made them. A few weeks later it was in the shop and ready for sale! I'm also interested in working on collaborations with other makers - so if you're a doodler/designer/maker/creative type and you'd like to make something science-related, get in touch through my Instagram too :)
8) Where are you from
I live and work in Aberdeen, which is in the North East of Scotland, UK - super far away from lots of other creative scientists, or so it seems!
Heidi Gardner: PhD Student in Applied Health Sciences - Trial Forge