Ornithological illustration artist Justine Lee Hirten uses design to explain the branches of natural science that make up Earth’s physical world. Her graphics utilize vibrant colors and imagery to outline a habitat’s moving parts, where codependent plants and animals can be likened to puzzle pieces in the sense that they all play a role in painting the bigger picture. As understanding environmental sustainability becomes a quintessential milestone in paving a future for our planet, Justine’s artwork offers an easily-digested explanation of this bigger picture, where the various components of our natural world are recreated with realistic visuals that evoke inquisitive curiosity.

          Justine Lee Hirten Project Feederwatch IllustrationJustine Lee Hirten Bearded Vulture IllustrationJustine Lee Hirten Dichromatism Illustration

One example of how Justine has used her artwork to inspire compassion, appreciation, and familiarity with wildlife environments is through her mural project at the Connecticut Audubon Center (see featured image). In a space used for children’s programs and summer camps, the Kaelin Discovery Room’s walls are now filled with lively images of Connecticut’s plant and animal species. Justine comments:

“Public art gives us an opportunity to speak out for a cause. It’s my hope that children using this space will be excited to recognize these animals and plants on the mural from their backyards…Building a familiarity with these species and seeing them as a part of our community is the first step towards fostering respect and compassion for the wildlife that shares a home with us in Fairfield and the surrounding area.”

Art’s role as a catalyst for constructive education presents an opportunity to stimulate progress in longterm environmental sustainability. Justine’s mural serves as an example for how we can use retroactive creativity to secure a promising future for our natural habitats. Through compelling designs, colorful cartoons, and artistic strategy, Justine’s artwork continues to leave an imprint on the youth. When children find themselves wondering about the vibrant imagery that covers the walls of the Kaelin Discovery Room, they are one step closer to comprehending the wildlife that makes up our natural world. 

After receiving her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Justine continued studying Scientific Illustration in CSUMB’s graduate program. Since graduating, she’s been working for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as a Natural Science Artist. Currently, she’s writing and illustrating a book documenting noteworthy wildlife rescue stories.

Detail: CT Biodiversity Mural Justine Lee Harten    Justine Lee Harten Spotted Hyena Illustration

          Justine Lee HartenEastern Screech Owl adult and fledgling Illustration      Justine Lee HirtenDetail: CT Biodiversity Mural


Check out more of Justine Lee Hirten’s work here: Portfolio