Visual Voyages: Exploring the Impact of Art and Design in Space Science Communication

By Juliah S. Champion

(The DGE PG)


The integration of art and design emerges as a potent catalyst for effective scientific communication. We’re no longer limited to terse, technical jargon and uninspiring visuals. Instead, we’re diving into a vivid realm of hues, innovation, and imagination, illuminating the marvels of cosmic exploration for all to comprehend and appreciate. It’s instrumental in translating science into digestible information. It serves as a source of inspiration and fascination, sparking curiosity and promoting a deeper understanding of the universe. 

The implementation of Art & Design in Science communication is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history, humans have used art and design elements to communicate about the cosmos. Cave paintings and early artefacts, like the Nebra sky disk from Bronze Age Germany, show that early humans were keenly observing and recording celestial events artistically. 

In the Renaissance period, artists like Leonardo da Vinci, the man who we often use as the point of reference in Design, Art and Humanities culture. Also used his keen observational skills and artistic talent to sketch scientific phenomena, blending the worlds of art, design, and science in a manner that was far ahead of his time. 

The Intersection of Art & Design in the Space Sector 

The role of design in space exploration is multi-fold. It includes conceptualising and designing spacecraft and rovers, mission planning, astronaut training environments, and the visual communication of complex scientific information to the public. 

A prime example of the integration of art and design in science communication within the space exploration community is visual design. The Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has been at the forefront of hosting a wide array of events both on a regional and global scale throughout the year, which serve as a platform for young professionals and students from diverse backgrounds to engage in discussions, share knowledge, and collaborate on various topics related to space exploration. 

Logo design helps guide the visual identity and brand representation. A well-designed logo serves as a visual symbol that captures the essence of the project groups, events and SGAC’s identity and resonates with its target audience, unifying them into a single, recognisable symbol at first glance. 

Event visual design encompasses various elements such as sponsor kits, giveaways, printables and merchandise etc. These elements should reflect the event’s branding and theme, creating a cohesive, immersive experience for participants and those interested in learning more. By carefully crafting sponsor kits, event organisers can effectively showcase the potential and value of the event to potential sponsors. It serves as a persuasive tool, allowing sponsors to envision their involvement and support without hesitation. 

Social media design is about the strategic and creative use of art and design principles to craft visually appealing and engaging content for social media platforms. It ensures consistent branding, utilises visual storytelling techniques, and encourages audience participation, ultimately facilitating effective science communication and community building. 

Overall, these are a few key points of how the intersection of art and design happens within the SGAC, and how it enhances communication, showcases the value of what we do, and strengthens the connection between science and the public. 

The Harmony of Art & Design 

Art and design are two creative disciplines that often intersect but have different core principles and purposes, and finding the right medium in finding the harmony between the two could lead us to an effective visual design for (science) communication. 

Art is often considered an expression of human creativity and imagination, primarily focusing on aesthetic value and emotional power rather than functional value. Although Art can work (and hold a functional value), it doesn’t necessarily have to serve a practical function or convey a specific message, as it’s often open to interpretation by the viewer. It is more effective to use art in terms of exhibition, Call for Artwork, art cover or workshop activities for a more interactive approach and imaginative experiences. 

Design, on the other hand, is a process-oriented discipline that involves creating a solution to a problem. Design requires a systematic and strategic approach, with a focus on functionality and efficiency. It often involves considering user needs and experiences, as well as aesthetic appeal. 

Design is a profoundly human-centric discipline that prioritises the needs and experiences of the end user. Rather than merely aiming to make something “pretty,” designers consider the impact their creations will have on the end user. They analyse how people will interact with the design, the tasks they need to accomplish, and the context in which it will be used. 

It’s also a highly collaborative process involving close collaboration with various stakeholders such as engineers, scientists, and other professionals. It is something that truly requires a team effort, and a well-thought-out design is an iterative process of prototyping, testing, and refining designs to ensure they are effective and efficient. 

Our Giant Leap into Art & Design 

The effectiveness of communication lies not in the specific tools used, be it Canva, Adobe programs, Powerpoint, Procreate, or other (design) software, but in understanding the principles of design.

Just as a solid foundation is crucial for building a house, design principles serve as the bedrock of effective communication. Imagine constructing a house without a strong foundation – it would lack stability and structural integrity. Similarly, without a grasp of design principles, communication efforts may falter. 


Design is not merely about decoration or aesthetics. The knowledge and application of design principles will enable you to create impactful visuals and effectively convey your message. Just as a text-based design can be as impactful as one with intricate illustrations, it’s the thoughtful application of design principles that truly matters. 

Since the Our Giant Leap Hackathon 2022, the Diversity and Gender Equality Project Group has actively incorporated art and design into our communication strategies. To further enhance the reach and engage a broader audience on social media, the DGE PG has recently established a dedicated “Designer Team” within the project group. 

Additionally, with the assistance of designers from the industry and this implementation has yielded positive results. The DGE PG has received significant feedback and observed notable statistics indicating increased reach and engagement, leading to higher interaction, shares, and overall interest in the initiatives. 

While making space exploration more accessible is already a challenging task, the goal of creating a more inclusive environment adds another layer of complexity. Hence, art and design serve as valuable avenues to facilitate inclusivity within the space sector. 

How to Start? 

Just like any skill or discipline, Art & Design are crafts that improve with time and practice. This process involves continuous learning, experimentation, and refinement. By investigating and utilising concepts such as hierarchy, typography, colour theory, and composition, you can effectively organise and present information in a clear and visually appealing manner. 

Finding the right mentor to guide you and provide you with valuable insight and problem-solving techniques could be another crucial step in honing your skills and accelerating your growth in this field. 

However, in the absence of a mentor, an alternative is to undertake case studies or commercial projects. This would allow you to gain the opportunity to have your work evaluated by clients or stakeholders, thereby fostering a deeper understanding of real-world challenges, client requirements, and industry standards. 

Lastly, cultivating creativity is an attainable goal that can be pursued through the investment of time, patience, dedicated practice, and adherence to a structured process. These elements combine to foster growth and improvement, enabling individuals to evolve as accomplished artists and designers.