The Art of March Mammal Madness

Anyone who has followed me on social media for any length of time knows that around late February, things begin to get a bit busy in the studio as an annual event known as March Mammal Madness takes precedence over most all other projects in my life. For seven to ten weeks, I not only learn a great deal about animals I may have never heard of previously, but I get to share all of it with everyone participating in the tournament.

The tournament, organized and run by Dr. Katie Hinde, has become a much-anticipated event on Twitter, and in many classrooms as a growing number of teachers and professors now implement it in their curriculum. The team of narrators has grown to include many amazing experts and science communicators, and I came on board in year 3 to help provide artwork for each of the contestants. 

MMM has proven to be an immensely growthful experience for me both as an artist and a visual science communicator. Working with scientists and academics alike is an acquired skill and can be almost like learning a second language at times, but the rewards are great. Having a platform to raise awareness about a particular species and share why it is important is something I have loved doing since I was small. I would watch nature documentaries voraciously and read all I could on animals both extant and extinct. I would also constantly share what I had learned with anyone who would listen, much to the annoyance of my friends and family at times. The ability to do so in professional capacity has been a literal dream come true.

This year the two-artist team has grown to include two more artists, whose talents I am incredibly gratified to be able to help showcase. 

I met artist and creature designer Valeria Pellicer as she was completing her scientific illustration internship at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology. I was the intern coming in after her and our paths crossed for a week that was filled with fantastic conversation, some of which happened to include MMM. She and her sister, artist and animator Olivia Pellicer, are strong additions to the team who will no doubt create some very memorable art work for 2019MMM. Illustrator Mary Casillas also returns this year and will have the opportunity to showcase more of her incredible acrylic painting work.

Please give all of these artists a follow on Twitter (@vpellicerart @opellisms @maryccasillas) and be ready to experience some fantastic visual science communication. For more information on the tournament itself, and how this year’s divisions are shaping up, Dr. Hinde’s website is your go-to for the most up-to-date information. Hashtag #2019MMM is your ticket to some of the best science communication and outreach the internet has to offer. See you on the virtual paying field!

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