There are quite a few people out there illustrating endangered animals, all trying in different ways to raise awareness of these animals in the hope that awareness aids conservation. Science, research and campaigning are all well-known elements of conservation today, but often to inspire people to fall in love and take action, you need a different approach. Illustration and visual communication are very powerful tools – so here is a little list of my top favourite illustrators doing just that. They are all absolute inspirational creative geniuses, hope you like all the amazing artwork!
1. Jonathan Woodward
I’ve been a huge fan of Jonathan’s work for many years – I love both his paper collage style and his obvious passion for the natural world. Not only does he sell prints of his work, but you can download amazing FREE Children’s Wildlife Activity Kits (see images below) and monthly desktop calendars.
I asked Jonathan what inspires him, and whether he thinks illustration has a role to play in conservation:
“I’ve always loved wildlife (I used to collect bird ceramic figures while the other kids were collecting Star Wars figures!) and although it took me a while to combine my passion for wildlife and Illustration, spending 10+ years as a Graphic Designer, I now feel very privileged to work on the projects I illustrate.
I think illustration has an important role to play in communicating conservation issues to children and offers a unique opportunity to engage with them in a way that photographs can’t, breaking down complex subjects like trophic cascades and making shocking practices like shark finning less gruesome, but still impactful enough to fire up future conservationists.
The thought that through my work personally and professionally, I could help in some small way to inspire kids to engage with and want to protect the natural world, makes me very proud.”
I couldn’t agree more! Though I also think its never too late to get grown-ups inspired too 😀
2. Brendan Wenzel
From Brooklyn, New York, Brendan is a passionate conservationist, and has collaborated with many organizations working to ensure the future of wild places and threatened species, especially within Southeast Asia. You can see a whole gallery of Brendan’s illustrated animals, all endangered in the wild, on his website, plus he has a book coming out this year called They All Saw a Cat.
Louis Masai is a London-based street artist who uses large, visible public platforms to depict endangered animals. His work is absolutely beautiful, and the contrast of seeing these ‘wild’ animals on the streets of East London makes you think about the space we are giving these animals in our modern world. He was part of the recent Endangered13 Project in London too, a mural project raising awareness of endangered species – visit the website, there’s tonnes of amazing photos on there!
Bryan James’ Species in Pieces project
Bryan’s project is an incredible mix of endangered animals and modern, digital artwork.Here are a few images of his project but you really must go look at it on his website – the animals move, the pieces spin into place to create each new animal and there are loads of links to information about each species. Its mesmerising.
I’m in love with Patrick’s Animal Rescue book… I’m always on the look out for kids books that deal with conservation or endangered animals, and I think this one does it so well. So simple yet so clever, plus some of the profits go to the Born Free Foundation. Watch the video to see how the acetate pages work:
Patrick has also been involved in other conservation projects, recently a poster for World Wildlife Day (the theme was In Our Hands):
And a poster for Wildaid’s Year of the Elephant (2016):
Frann Preston-Gannon: The Journey Home
Sticking with amazing children’s books, this is The Journey Home. I LOVE THIS BOOK TOO! I hadn’t heard of the illustrator when I stumbled across this book a few years ago in London. I read it in the bookshop and had to choke back the tears at the end – a beautiful book about endangered animals, with a hard-hitting final page. Get yourself a copy, and then I challenge you not to cry. It’s been turned into a stage show for kids too, see more on Frann’s website.
Bria Neff: Faces of the Endangered
My final artist I know very little about but came across her recently on the Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots website. Bria is an American-based artist and conservationist who is “painting these pictures of endangered animals because I want people to know that they are loosing their habits and food. It makes me feel super sad so I want to help by selling these paintings and donating the money to make sure none these wonderful animals ever go extinct. She plans to paint 3000 paintings in the next 9 years and so far has already raised $1,600 for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Oh yeh, and SHE’S ONLY NINE YEARS OLD. Beyond inspiring. Check out her website.