05.16.2016

Friend of Darwin: Paula Spence

Friend of Darwin winners are typically scientists, teachers, or activists. Now for the first time in 20 years, NCSE's signature award goes to someone completely different: an artist.

When NCSE needs icons, avatars, portraits, posters, flyers, web graphics, and other incredible illustrations (all on absurd last-minute deadlines), we turn to crackerjack artist Paula Spence.

Through her graphics for NCSE, Paula has entertained, enlightened, and educated thousands of people for the last seven years. And she's done it all gratis.

How did she get started? Why the passion for art? Why the passion for science? And why did she bless NCSE with her prodigious talents?

Here's her story, in her own words:

"Paula Spence was born and raised in Southern California, and enjoyed a youth filled with her favorite things: reading, drawing, digging for fossils, frog hunting, traveling, pounding nails into wood, visiting zoos and sanctuaries, and consuming chocolate milkshakes. She started her first full-time job in art straight out of high school, worked her way through a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration at California State University Long Beach, and has had the drive, tenacity, and luck to make a living by drawing.

"Her art career has evolved from illustration and graphic design for educational publishing to concept art for amusement parks and then to design, color and art direction in the TV animation industry. You’ve seen her work on SpongeBob SquarePants, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and Regular Show, among other shows. Life in an animation studio can leave one feeling surprisingly frivolous, though, so in an effort to do something meaningful, she reached out to [NCSE founding executive director] Eugenie Scott, a celebrity to lovers of evolution and science education. Paula has been providing volunteer artwork for NCSE ever since. She looks forward to the next request and is thankful to be able to combine her love of science with her career in art. Most of all, she hopes to inspire young artists to explore science and change the world."

Congratulations Paula! A Friend of Darwin (and science all the 'way round) indeed.