Meet the Illustrator Redefining What it Means to Create Passionately
With a focus on the beauty in nature over the changes brought on by climate change, Francesca Page’s illustrations bring new perspectives. In her own words, she shares the importance of passion in impact-driven artwork.
Sharks have been around since before the dinosaurs, and in a matter of years they might start to disappear.
As a diver and illustrator, I knew that each time I went on a dive, I was seeing a part of the world many could not — I have had magical experiences underwater that have cemented my passion and understanding of the sea. As an artist, I felt it was my duty to show the world what I saw.
When I draw, I focus on the beauty of the creature.
We get immune to gore and violence — we see it as normal. People aren’t scared of it anymore. But if I show how beautiful something is, l can help people fall in love with it, just as I have.
It’s so important to create what you’re passionate about, and when you create passionately, that passion transfers to the viewer.
There is so much going on, it’s overwhelming. It’s so important to pick something and really focus on it. Research everything, put your soul in it. When you overwhelm yourself as a creative, nothing gets done. When you focus on one thing and put all of your energy into it, you can make a measurable difference.
Art is so vital in our society, and a lot of people forget that. Don’t let yourself be one of them.
Currently, I am focusing on drawing 200 species of sharks. It challenges me, of course. But it also shows people how many different kinds of sharks are out there. When we think of sharks, we think of great whites. But sharks come in so many shapes and sizes — I want to remind people of that.
It’s so important that we create passionately. That passion is what shines through and changes minds. When I start a project, I research, I interview people, I go explore. Before sharks, I did a series on the rainforest and in order to do it, I contacted a shaman, went to a conference, read everything I could find, and spoke to anyone I could who understood it better than I did. I want to transfer my knowledge into my illustrations.
After I research, I fill my sketchbook. So many artists get too attached to the final image with sketches. I detach myself and focus on the movement, the shape, the colors.
Depending on the project, I try to focus on the sketches to determine what I am going to create.
Then, I find my reference image. For every single shark I draw, I connect with the photographer on social media. I interview them to learn about the day they took the image. I want to know what the shark’s personality was like. How can I draw something unless I fully understand it?
I can’t bring empathy forward if I’m creating about a species as a whole. I am creating about individual sharks. The single living creature. I want to capture the ocean in a drawing, and to do that, I must capture the lives that make the sea come alive.
It’s so hard to connect to an entire species. But if we focus on individuals, we remember that every life counts.
When trying to create about our changing climate, there are so many topics that deserve our focus. Aside from my experiences diving with them, I chose sharks because they are the top of the food chain. They’re the apex predators. If they go, the whole food chain goes into imbalance. And they’re going at an alarming rate — it’s really shocking.
Sharks are not cuddly. They’re not cute. We aren’t naturally driven to like them and want to protect them. I want to change people’s perceptions of sharks to match my own. That’s what art is all about — showing the world your passion. Mine is protecting marine life.
I hope my work inspires people to use their own creative skills for the good of our planet. It doesn’t have to be “traditional” art. Just make something. Make something you care about and if you love it enough, others will too. Talk about your passions. Create about your passions.
The ocean is changing, and I want to preserve it and show people how incredible and beautiful this place is. I want people to fall in love with it, and grow the passion that I have so that they’re inspired to take action towards saving it, just as I do.
Ready to use your art to take climate action? You can get involved by joining the Climate Art Challenge.