Dr Andrew Howells

Dr Andrew Howells

Senior Lecturer

School of Design Communication and IT (Design and Natural History Illustration)

Andrew Howells is illustrating the importance of cross-disciplinary research

Dr Andrew Howells has created a series of 60 illustrations that assist scientists to visually assess the health of captive Asian elephants. Now he is looking to expand this work to other species in captivity.

Andrew Howells is illustrating the importance of cross-disciplinary research

After years working in animation, graphic design and later as a freelance illustrator, it was a conversation with a veterinary science friend that sparked Andrew’s interest in completing a PhD in Natural History Illustration.

“My friend, Dr Roy McClements, was a very tall man and he was researching penguins. So I thought it would be a great composition for a portrait. I did a life size portrait of him for a portrait competition, and while he was sitting for it we were talking about his research,” Andrew recalls.

“I said, ‘what’s next’ and he said, ‘elephants’.

“He and his colleagues had identified nine different conditions that an elephant could be categorised, from emaciated through to obese, so they thought they would collate a whole collection of photographs describing those different conditions.

“However, as I pointed out to him, then you are going to have nine different animals with nine different body conditions in nine different environments with nine different photographers. There are all these variables, which means it is going to be hard to see the difference between them. You might have an emaciated animal that is heavily dappled in pigmentation behind a tree in a jungle, and you might have an obese animal that is photographed in a zoo that is completely lit against a clean background.”

That’s why the role of the illustrator is so important. We can take what is unseeable and make it ‘seeable’. It is a really descriptive role that is all based on being accurate in representing and contextualising factual information.

This led Andrew to complete a Research Masters and, later, a PhD in Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle.

The discipline of Natural History Illustration has been around for a long time, and the relationship between scientist and natural history illustrator is historically founded. However, Newcastle currently has the only degree program in Natural History Illustration in Australia, and is one of only a few internationally.

For the elephant project, Andrew spent four years working from information provided by scientists and photographs, as well as observing the elephants at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, and at the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas, US.

“After I had the chance to study elephants in Australia and get some ideas on paper, then I worked with researchers in the US to look at their elephants and have a discussion about how to really refine the drawings to describe specific anatomical detail. From there, it was up to me to take it to the next level and create the resource set,” he explained.

“I would like to create resources across a range of species that are an active part of research in the conservation space.

“The head of conservation research at Taronga has been very supportive of my work and I am looking forward to working on new projects with them in the future.”

Andrew Howells is illustrating the importance of cross-disciplinary research

Dr Andrew Howells has created a series of 60 illustrations that assist scientists to visually assess the health of captive Asian elephants.

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Career Summary

Biography

Dr Andrew Howells is a Lecturer in Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle. His research interests include conservation science, digital and traditional illustration practice, and drawing as enquiry. His PhD research was based on the confluence of these topics in a project titled Elephant: Art and Science. In line with his research interests, Dr Howells teaches into the Natural History Illustration program with a focus on; studio studies, field studies and scientific illustration courses. He also brings with him valuable industry experience, having held roles in amination, graphic design and illustration in both an agency and freelance contexts.

Research Expertise
Area of research focus: -- Drawing as inquiry -- Digital/Traditional Illustration Practice -- Natural History Illustration -- Art and Science collaboration These research topics formed the basis of my PhD research titled Elephant: art and Science

Collaborations
Andrew's research focus is on the role of art and science in collaborative research. Andrew's PhD research sore him collaborate with veterinary science researchers in the development of a tool for the visual assessment of body condition for captive Asian Elephants. Andrew is currently developing a research relationship with Sydney's Taronga zoo, with a focus on the role of the artist/illustrator in conservation science.

Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Fine Art, University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • Art and Science Collaboration
  • Digital Illustration
  • Drawing
  • Drawing Practice
  • Illustration
  • Illustration Methods
  • Natural History Illustration

Languages

  • English (Fluent)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
120307 Visual Communication Design (incl. Graphic Design) 50
130201 Creative Arts, Media and Communication Curriculum and Pedagogy 20
199999 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified 30

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Design Communication and IT
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2004 - 1/09/2005 Senior Graphic Designer Creata Promotion Australia Pty Ltd
Creative Department
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Howells AN, 'How does cross-disciplinary exchange influence interpretation for the Natural History Illustrator?', VaroomLab Journal, 19-33 (2015) [C1]

Conference (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Howells AN, 'Technology, Illustration and Science', Symposium SPECTRA 2012 (2014) [E1]

Creative Work (7 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Howells AN, Atkins D, Broughton Island, The Art of Adventure (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Daniel Atkins
2015 Brooker CJ, Cross K, Minichiello M, Roxburgh M, Howells A, Atkins D, et al., Making it Known, http://www.making-it-known.com/catalogue/ (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Mike Mcauley, Michael Dickinson, Caelli Brooker, Jane Shadbolt, Mark Roxburgh, Mario Minichiello, Daniel Atkins
2015 Howells A, Atkins D, Weekes T, Sailer P, Dedman L, Purnell T, et al., Illuminating Science (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Bernadette Drabsch, Daniel Atkins, Prue Sailer
2015 Brooker C, Cross K, Making It Known, Curve Gallery (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Mario Minichiello, Jane Shadbolt, Daniel Atkins, Caelli Brooker, Mark Roxburgh, Michael Dickinson, Mike Mcauley
2013 Howells AN, Howells A, Wild Tone, Newcastle, NSW, Australia (2013) [J3]
2012 Howells AN, Howells A, Elephant: Art and Science (2012)
2011 Howells AN, Howells, Elephant: Art and Science (2011)
Show 4 more creative works

Thesis / Dissertation (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Howells AN, Elephant: Art and Science, The University of Newcastle (2014)
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 1
Total funding $2,000

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20141 grants / $2,000

Faculty PVC Conference Assistance Grant 2014$2,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Science & IT

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Science & IT
Project Team Doctor Andrew Howells
Scheme PVC Conference Assistance Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1401215
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current3

Total current UON EFTSL

PhD1.7

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2016 PhD Visualising Life: Illustration as a Vehicle for Communicating the Development and Aging of the Human Placenta
PhD(Natural History Illustrat), Faculty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2014 PhD Natural History Illustration Methodology Applied in Chorography: Illustrating the Bushland Campus
PhD(Natural History Illustrat), Faculty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2014 PhD Beyond Exploration: Illustrating the Botanical Legacy of Ludwig Leichhardt
PhD(Natural History Illustrat), Faculty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
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Dr Andrew Howells

Position

Senior Lecturer
School of Design Communication and IT
Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Focus area

Design and Natural History Illustration

Contact Details

Email andrew.howells@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 5357

Office

Room Design Building Room D221
Building Design Building
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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