Scientific illustration is one of many aspects of botanical research to aid plant identification and conservation at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. This institution has a long history of professional illustrators working alongside botanists, molecular biologists, ecologists and plant pathologists to give an incredibly comprehensive understanding of all new and renamed plant species.
The Number 1 question asked of all scientific illustrators in this digital world is “Why do you still use drawings instead of photographs?” Simply put, scientific illustrators create images of plants by referencing recent and historic herbarium collections. In my role, I use my artistic skill to translate the taxonomy, interpret microscopic botanical details, omit the unnecessary, document the essential and (hopefully) describe a species so well that it never has to be drawn again. Since 1998 I have illustrated native, exotic and invasive weed species at RBG Sydney and the most recent examples of my work are to be seen accompanying botanical descriptions in online publications of Telopea and PlantNET.
As Margaret Flockton Award curator, each year I also promote, communicate with and contribute to a growing international community of contemporary scientific botanical illustrators.