Work of art: DIY a creative STEM career

STEM grads can be equal parts creative and scientific, combining both strengths to create a one-of-a-kind career. Image: Shutterstock

Forget what your high school timetable says! When it comes to career goals, art and science rarely clash

Think you can only be either STEM-minded or creative? Nope! No more. Gone are the days when art and science were treated as total opposites. As employers rate transdisciplinary thinkers fluent in both, universities are all over it, too!

According to the University of Sydney, science grads who are in tune with their creative side have been shown to better develop unique research methods, test hypotheses, interpret data and engage in debate. Which is reflected in next-gen course offerings, too – double degrees that offer a taste of everything and STEM courses that encourage students to choose out-of-the-box electives.

Skill life

So what kinds of jobs would flat-out require both creativity and scientific skills as prerequisites? All of them! Making scientific breakthroughs requires serious creativity – so biologists, chemists, astrophysicists, STEM educators, science illustrators, geologists and communicators just to start.

Goodbye, “art” or “science” kid, and bring on a world where we can celebrate being awesome at both!

Mariana Oksdath Mansilla, Scientific Designer and Illustrator

Think you can only be either STEM-minded or creative? Nope! Mariana is both.

As a qualified scientist and illustrator, Mariana Oksdath Mansilla has combined her credentials to forge a career in both! Working for herself, she creates the sketches that sit in some of the country’s top scientific journals and medical manuals.

“It’s my job to transform complex science into accurate and appealing images,” she says. Recently she prepped a glaucoma surgical manual for eye surgery, designing 12 medical illustrations explaining the complex steps involved.

And her advice for grads who feel torn between their creativity and STEM? “Know both disciplines! You have to find your way to learn science and art around your possibilities. It’s fascinating to be a part of an emerging area!”

Read Mariana’s full CV here.

Science and creativity study

  • Bachelor of Science/Arts, University of NSW
  • Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science, The University of Sydney
  • Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science, The University of Newcastle

Science and creativity jobs

  • Illustrator (scientific): $40K–$142K
  • Art therapist: $60K–$139K
  • Neuroscientist: $60K–$147K*

*Source: salaries according to

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.


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