Jen Burgess

Self-portrait 2014

Jen Burgess is a freelance science illustrator based in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the beauty of the Pacific North West continues to inspire her love of nature and concern for the environment, as it has from an early age.

My primary goal is to help educate the public and serve the scientific community with my art. I collaborate with scientists, researchers, writers, and other experts, to bring to life their knowledge and ideas and tell their story visually.

I have a background in biology and environmental geography, education, interpretation, and of course the fine arts. This intersection of skills makes me uniquely suited to understand the language of the scientist, and to then translate it visually and create a piece of artwork that is approachable, communicative, accurate, and beautiful.


 I graduated with a bachelor of science in geography from the University of Victoria in 2005, spent a few years teaching English in South Korea and Vancouver, then completed a certificate in fine art techniques at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2011 before moving to Santa Cruz, California.

While in California I volunteered for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum, took watercolour classes at the Art League of Santa Cruz, and trained as a naturalist at the University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum, and as an interpreter through the National Association for Interpretation.

I am a 2015 alumni of the Science Illustration Graduate Certificate Program at California State University Monterey Bay. I completed my capstone internship back in Canada at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia. I am now freelancing full-time in this rewarding and challenging career.

I am always happy to learn something new. I am humbled and honoured to work with professionals who know their stuff. To illustrate means to enlighten, to illuminate. In my working process of illustrating, I become more enlightened, illuminated, myself.

In my free time I can be found outdoors hiking with my dog, sketching, gardening, or indoors reading, making soup, or sitting down to enjoy a cup of tea.



 Why Hire an Illustrator? 

Not everything can be said easily with a photograph or with words—an illustration is sometimes needed to educate and tell the story.

Douvilleiceras sp. Ammonite

Douvilleiceras sp. Ammonite

Research can sometimes be dry to the uninitiated, but an illustration can grab the attention of the reader and summarize the writing.  Illustrations can show at a glance all the plants and animals you can expect to find in a particular biogeographic area. They can remove extraneous details of a complicated subject to focus on a particular aspect, or take an abstract or conceptual idea and put it in a familiar context. They can even make a fantastical fictional idea become “real” to viewers.

Illustrations can show both the inside and the outside of something, all at once, whether it is the human body or a far away planet. They can show all stages of a flowering plant, from bud to seed, simultaneously. They can show microscopic details at a macro scale alongside the subject. They can describe the details of a process, even across the language barrier.

Illustrators can  reconstruct specimens to look alive where references are only partially available: perhaps they are partly decomposed, pressed, flattened, or fossilized. They can recreate prehistoric or anthropological scenes from before the invention of the camera. Illustrators can composite from several references to create an image that did not exist previously.




Client Work, 2016

Client Work, 2016

I’m interested in but not limited to:

  • Illustrations or diagrams for publication in journals, magazines, books, websites, or social media.
  • Infographics
  • Logo design
  • Conference posters
  • Murals
  • Interpretive panels


  • Fine art commissions
  • Nursery art
  • Pet portraits
  • Photo manipulation and restoration
  • Speaking engagements
  • Workshops
  • Lessons


Variety of media includes:

  • Digital (Adobe CC)
  • Graphite
  • Pen & Ink
  • Scratchboard
  • Watercolour
  • Gouache
  • Acrylic
  • Coloured Pencil
  • Coquille
  • Mixed Media


From murals to simple pen & ink drawings, I can create artwork in a variety of styles and media to suit your project’s needs and budget.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me…