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#006 Science, Molecular Graffiti & How to Get That Complex Point Across

Author: Dr Philipp DEXHEIMER | Science Artist & Communicator | Vienna, Austria.


Hi folks,


It's my pleasure to share a little bit about my journey through the life sciences, which led me to study cells, flies & nematodes in the labs of Europe before eventually becoming a Science Artist & Visualization specialist. This January I joined Zeeks as an affiliate Science Communicator and look forward to coming up with creative ways to tell the story of (your) science!


Caenorhabditis elegans Graffiti in Vienna

 

Philipp Dexheimer in the lab
Philipp Dexheimer  outside of the lab spraying a fruit fly graffiti

Philipp Dexheimer in- and outside of the lab


I'm Philipp, I love painting biology on walls and paper, telling a good story, and finding creative ways to get science the attention it deserves.



What do I do?


Mural at Blue Planet Ecosystems, a biotech start-up in Vienna that turns sunlight into seafood

Mural at Blue Planet Ecosystems, a biotech start-up in Vienna that turns sunlight into seafood


As an artist at heart and a scientist in the mind, my creations are inspired by the concepts and molecular aesthetics of nature. Being passionate about visualizing complex ideas, I combine my research background and love for art to effectively communicate science to a broad audience using different media formats. From digital cover art design over molecular Graffiti to hand drawn ink & watercolor figures. 



Graffiti of the protein Ubiquitin in Vienna

Being into Hip hop culture and skateboarding my first steps as an artist happened on skateparks with a spray can in my hand when I was around 14 years old. A lot of my expertise regarding colors, design and visual aesthetics actually come from Graffiti.  Turns out that the principles that make visuals captivating and compelling are universally valid. So my experience as an urban artist came in handy when preparing images and slides for scientific presentations etc. 


In the beginning of my PhD at the IMP Vienna, investigating the function of microRNAs in early animal development, I combined my passion for art and science by starting to paint biology-inspired murals. The feedback from the scientific community was really encouraging and I believe that Graffiti is a unique possibility for outreach


and bringing scientific concepts to public space. My vision is to bring color to research institutes and biomedical companies of this world with molecular Graffiti. If you have a wall that could use a visual masterpiece feel free to drop me a line!  



several science journal covers produced by Philipp Dexheimer

When I don't hold a spray can in my hand I love working with Photoshop to create digital artwork for journal covers, scientific posters, or biotech homepages - finding a way to illustrate complex concepts in a way that resonates with the human mind and soul never fails to excite me. More recently I also started to experiment with video creation and editing. I think short videos are a great medium to make science accessible to a large audience, and hope that they become a more frequently utilized part of the science communication toolbox. 




Video Abstract for a groundbreaking paper that cracked the Enhancer biology, the second code of Life, using AI - published in Nature.


Why is creative Science Communication important?

To me it’s curious that investments in professional communication are often believed to be mere perks among academics - cover artwork, video abstracts and beautiful figures are seen as the bells and whistles of a published scientific article. While an aesthetic graphic or illustration surely please the observer though aesthetic appeal, they are so much more than that: It's a powerful tool to make your story heard and remembered! 


Despite the significant resources poured into major research - years of dedicated work by multiple authors, extensive funding for consumables, and operations within costly infrastructure - it’s ultimately the impact of the science that truly matters. Getting attention for their results is crucial for a scientist's career; it leads to increased citations, opportunities for grants, and awards. Given that beautiful figures, an amazing cover artwork, or a captivating video-abstract can substantially increase the attention a paper gets, it's basically a no-brainer to put some budget aside for this.

 

After all, we want science to be a part of the public discourse among researchers as well as the general public. To achieve this creative use of visuals & narrative structures are invaluable tools to get a complex point across.



Renaissance Art meets Biology - The formation of human heart organoids in da Vinci's style

Renaissance Art meets Biology - The formation of human heart organoids in da Vinci's style


My Goals at Zeeks

I'm most excited about new projects and people to share the journey with - my goal is to contribute to an amazing team of Science Communicators, develop my skills and, most importantly, to get out there to get Science the attention it deserves. If you have a project in mind let's connect to come up with a creative solution together to communicate the essence of your research!

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