Q&A with Clarissa Wright of NatureVolve


This is my first Q&A post in a very long time, and it’s with someone whom I’m happy to feature: Clarissa Wright. Clarissa is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NatureVolve, which is a magazine that blends art and science.

I’ve written about NatureVolve before on this blog, both in the distant past (meaning 2019) and more recently. As someone who loves both science and art, having one publication that combined both domains seemed like a great idea to me.

However, I wanted to hear from Clarissa herself about why she decided to create a magazine that focuses on art and science, and about her experiences with running her own publication. The following Q&A explores those topics, as well as others.

Clarissa Wright holding Issue 13 of NatureVolve.


What is the overall goal of NatureVolve?

The overall goal behind NatureVolve is to engage diverse global communities in research and ideas about nature and the world in which we live.

We believe creative communication can break down barriers between research, the creative arts and society, so we unite scientists, conservationists, and artists on one platform to promote collaboration across different fields of study and art. The magazine takes the reader through a journey across its sections, beginning with Science, Conservation, through to Scicomm and Art.

We begin by featuring scientists and their personal stories and insights in their relevant fields – in the Science section – covering the full spectrum of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) subjects.

In the Conservation section, we are particularly focused on communicating important messages about how the planet is changing in response to human activity: whether it be climate change or plastic pollution. While gaining an awareness of the planet, we also seek to grow an appreciation of it, through creative science communication projects like digital illustrations seen in the Scicomm section, or visual artworks that can be found in the Art section.

NatureVolve Issue 13, which you can read online.

In your view, how are science and art related?

Science and art were once closely intertwined, as we can see when we think back to the naturalists and polymaths of history, such as Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, draftsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor, and architect.

Lesser known is Ernst Haeckel, who created intricate illustrations of organisms seen under the microscope on the Challenger expedition, such as radiolarians: microscopic algae encased in exquisite glassy shells. Born in the 1800s, Ernst Haeckel was a physician, biologist, and professor, but also an artist who recorded important scientific observations on expeditions.

We can see how science illustration, before the height of photography was, and remains to this day, an important method of record-making and science communication.

Even those who do not consider themselves to be science communicators can relate to both science and art.

An artist might say their creative approach is “scientific” in the methods of their work. A scientist might say their scientific approach is “artistic” as they creatively evaluate possibilities and problem solve; it is in our way of thinking where we can see a cross-over between science and art. Both involve problem solving, methodical processes and experimentation; and, in the end, a tangible piece of work to effectively communicate something important to others.

Nature itself bridges science and art, as these disciplines provide different ways of describing aspects of the natural world, so that others can appreciate it also, and that is the underlying theme behind NatureVolve.

You mentioned in a previous interview that one of NatureVolve’s unique features is that it combines stories about multiple scientific disciplines into one magazine. What are the advantages to having a cross-disciplinary publication, like NatureVolve?

Having a variety of subjects in one publication could help people to learn about a new subject they otherwise would not have encountered. It may also be that the diversity of content engages the readers well.

There is also something more philosophical behind it, as arguably, subjects of study in academia (and the professional world) can commonly become “pigeon-holed.”

For many, there is the experience of having a sense that one should stay in their specific field while embarking on a PhD or another postgraduate research program (or other professional career). It can become harder to have much cross-collaboration or to delve into new subjects once a specialty is established.

This does not stop some academics and professionals (like doctors) from starting side projects where they use their creativity to communicate aspects of their field to a wider audience. These projects can be found across the internet: on Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok. We feature some in NatureVolve’s Scicomm section, where we can see how science and art are utilized to educate and engage others.

Some scientists also use their artistic skills to focus on science communication full-time, like biologist Rob Nelson.

What’s been the biggest challenge associated with launching and running NatureVolve?

There’s a challenge in introducing this relatively new and unique publication to new communities.

We are aiming to raise awareness of the magazine and invite others to both enjoy reading it and potentially contribute. There are a lot of distractions out there, especially on the internet and the media world so in our projects we have to navigate through the noise to find our target audiences.

Social media engagement, but also highlighting the importance and relevance of our stories to our readers has been key.

Sometimes, people come across NatureVolve through their library’s digital archive, Issuu.com or on our website, and readers want to see more, and will look forward to the next issue by subscribing on our site.

However, we particularly want to reach people of diverse backgrounds, and are open to new ways of doing so. Collaborations are key and this is why we really appreciate what support we can get in our network and collaborations to spread the word about our mission to bridge science and art, and to share ideas about the planet.

What have you enjoyed most about working on NatureVolve?

Pulling all of the amazing stories and art forms together in each issue!

I have particularly enjoyed the stage of the publishing process where articles are complete and ready to be compiled and designed in the full magazine issue. This is where my visual art side comes in.

In my spare time, I have often completed drawings and paintings inspired by nature, such as rocks during my geology studies, and I’ve always had an interest in design and innovation. Also, I’ve long been a musical composer, drummer, keyboard player and guitarist.

Perhaps the creative process itself is why I enjoy working with different elements, whether it be texts or graphics in the magazine, or the diverse themes and topics that we publish.

But what I enjoy most is connecting with the members, contributors, and collaborators in NatureVolve, while supporting researchers and creatives to tangibly share their ideas and projects with new communities through the magazine format. While I’m helping others to tell their stories, and widening an appreciation of nature, this is meaningful work to me.

Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay.

Closing Thoughts

I’d like to thank Clarissa for taking the time to collaborate on this Q&A post.

As Clarissa pointed out, science and art don’t have to be separate realms. Artists can be scientists – and scientists can be artists – and nature unites both domains. The natural world is simultaneously fascinating from a scientific point of view, and undeniably beautiful.

Furthermore, both scientists and artists can enhance our relationships with the natural world in ways that contribute to its conservation. Thus, having one magazine that focuses on art and science is an excellent idea, and I highly recommend that you learn more about NatureVolve.

2 Thoughts

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