We had the good fortune of connecting with Trenton Jung and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Trenton, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
I am endlessly inspired by the complexities of the natural world. The colors, textures, and forms found in nature are the driving inspiration for my art practice. I enjoy incorporating the subtle complexities of nature into my illustrations, almost like playing a game of “I Spy” with the viewer.

One of my favorite places to find inspiration is peering into a small body of water like a creek or tide pool. At first glance, you see rocks, wood, and plants suspended in the water. As you look closer, more life starts to reveal itself in the water. There are invertebrates clinging to the rocks, fish camouflaged to match the plants, and a whole host of organisms hidden in plain sight.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a science illustrator, fine artist, and art instructor. Each of these aspects of my career has helped me build a well-rounded art practice.

In my science illustration practice, I visually communicate different aspects of the natural world, such as representing a diverse ecosystem, highlighting a species, or describing a unique behavior. As a science illustrator, I work with scientists and researchers to take their concepts and visually represent them in an understandable manner. Recent projects that I worked on include bumble bee nest illustrations, neurology in mice diagrams, an infographic on wood-boring insects, a rainbow trout ecosystem, and a timeline representing human migration throughout history. Something that makes my illustrations unique is that I primarily work with traditional media such as watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil. Many illustrators today primarily create using digital techniques.

Teaching is another rewarding aspect of my art practice. As an art teacher, I teach my students the fundamental art skills necessary to becoming a representational artist. I often weave science illustration concepts, like note-taking, measuring, and field sketches into my lesson plans. My art students have ranged in age from 2nd graders all the way up to retirees.

Continually practicing and teaching art has also helped refine my artistic skills. I enjoy sharing my artistic passion through my science illustrations, fine art, and teaching classes.

My journey began as a young student taking weekly art classes to build my artistic foundation. I refined my skills through coursework and projects as an illustration major at the Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore). During the last two years of my studies, I created projects more intently focused on science illustration. After graduation, I mostly worked as a freelance illustrator, creating illustrations for researchers and private commissions.

After leaving school, I knew that the journey of a freelance science illustrator would not be easy. I spent most of my time at my day job to make ends meet and then used any of my free time to continue to build connections and build my portfolio. Over several years, I gradually built up my client base. I also began spending more time on my art practice by attending art events, teaching classes, and participating in art shows.

Even after being out of school for 6 years, I am still learning so much about running my own art practice. Running my art business is a one-person show where I am creating artwork, communicating with clients, building lesson plans, and managing the business end. One of the biggest things that I’m working on now is streamlining the business aspect of my art practice, such as all the documents, financials, and managing inventory. These are all things that I learned along the way from friends, mentors, and YouTube.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would introduce my friend to the Sonoran desert by taking them on an early morning hike through Tanque Verde Canyon and up to the Falls, assuming we had a little bit of rain. Here they could see that the desert landscape consists of more than just cactus. On our way back, we would stop by Sydney’s Sweet Shoppe to pick up a slice of pie for “lunch”. The next day, I would take them to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum so they could get a closer look at the biodiversity of the Sonoran desert. There are many unique and immersive exhibits that highlight the flora and fauna that live in the desert. After our time at the Museum, I would take them to The Drawing Studio so we could take an art class hosted by some of the talented instructors. Once night falls, I would take them to the observatory to gaze at the night sky and take in the cosmos.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First off, I would not be where I am today without the support of my family. They have always encouraged and supported me in the pursuit of my passion for art and science. They drove me to various art classes throughout my childhood, purchased my art supplies, and attended my art exhibits.

My partner, Richelle, has been supporting my art practice since we met in 2011. She lends her artistic eye when I need a quick critique of a composition, provides emotional support during long nights of painting and is always cheering me along. Her desire for learning and work ethic help inspire me.

The Drawing Studio has played an important role in getting me involved in the local art scene here in Tucson. Since moving to Tucson last year, I have met many amazing artists and students through the organization. The Studio has given me an opportunity to share my passion for my art practice with their student body.

The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators is another influential organization that has helped shape my art career. This group of working professional artists/scientists is full of outstanding mentors and professional resources. One of the most beneficial aspects of being part of this group is attending their annual conferences where they invite speakers, artists host workshops, and we get to network with other science illustration professionals.

Website: https://www.trentonwjung.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/trenton.jung/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trentonwjungillustration/

Image Credits
Profile picture (in front of bamboo): Yesenia Vargas Photo of Trenton painting: Austin Trinh

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