Fancy (she/her) describes herself as "a bi mom and industrial designer from Chile who loves to invent and draw." She designs STEAM educational products for children, and is the founder of Esporascicomm, a design studio for science communication.
How do you describe the art you make?
What interests me the most with illustration and visual communication is telling stories. We all love a good story, regardless of the format in which it comes. Stories help us create an emotional bond, which is why learning to tell them visually is an incredibly powerful tool when communicating. Generally, the result of scientific research is delivered in a format that only scientists can decipher, but science is part of our day-to-day life—it helps us make decisions, and accompanies us all the way.
When I work in science communication or with scientists, I focus—more so than on the results of their papers—on the stories behind them: How did they come to that result? What difficulties did they have to overcome? How did they feel? And little by little, those untold stories that give life and shape to the investigation begin to appear in front of everyone. That richness in their stories and the emotion with which they tell them inspires me every day when I work with them, and it is very easy for me to imagine the story with which we will tell the concepts.
How did you first get into making art in general, and how did you get interested in making science-related art?
Art has always been in my family. My mother paints, carves, and sculpts, so I think it was only a matter of time before I became interested in some artistic discipline, which I did formally. I studied art, architecture, and industrial design, and in all those schools I enjoyed and learned a lot. I am a fan of pencil and paper and I have many sketchbooks that I always carry with me. I enjoy drawing in coffee shops, people's faces or gestures, what is on the table, or even how certain places make me feel. I also work mostly in Spanish. I could do it in English, but there is so much information already that I prefer to work in my native language and contribute to the Latin visual scientific communication.
What's been challenging or surprising about this work?
Despite the fact that I was always, in some way, linked to science, I never imagined myself working in scientific communication. I wanted to be an inventor and improve people's quality of life through design, so I studied industrial design and along the way, I met my partner, who is a PhD in microbiology. During our conversations I always liked to draw what we were talking about, and little by little and almost without realizing it, it became a design studio for science communication.
Something that has caught my attention when working with scientists (at least with those whom I have worked) is how difficult it is for them to open up and trust what they know, and many times we spend long hours talking about how important it was for me to show not only results, but the path and themselves, as normal people who feel, live, and enjoy little things like anyone else.
For someone who has never seen your work, what’s the first thing they should check out and why?
I don't have a favorite piece, and I think most aim to show us as more than "what we see outside"—much, much more. I have dedicated myself to showing microorganisms and their importance, and to highlighting their qualities both in humans and in ecosystems. Just as diversity is immense in them, it is also essential, and I like to see it as a teaching for us.
If I had to choose, it would be this illustration (below) and the phrase [from Ed Yong's I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life] “When Orson Welles said, ‘We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone,’ he was mistaken. Even when we are alone, we are never alone ... . Every one of us is a zoo in our own right—a colony enclosed within a single body. A multi-species collective. An entire world.”
What would you like LGBTQIA+ scientists to know about your art?
That it is here, and very willing to collaborate with those who wish.
It may not be related to art, but I would like to tell a little story. When I appeared on 500 Queer Scientists, many wrote to me on Instagram to say thanks or chat. I was delighted to meet two people in particular who told me they went through similar situations. We are thousands of miles apart, different countries, different languages, and we are still in contact and we were able to talk about being bisexual while you are also a mother. I just want to say thank you, for the trust, the space here, for the answers and comments, and for the beautiful community that has been formed.