“Inktober” Science Art Becomes Beautiful Biographical Collection

Inktober is an event during which artists create work every day throughout the month of October based on prompts. I love science artwork (SciArt) and last year I rounded up my favorite SciArt every week of Inktober here on Read More Science. I had no idea that last year’s work by physicist and artist Valentina Ferro would result in a beautiful biographical collection of scientists. Working with science communicator Valerie Bentivegna, who wrote stories about the scientists based off Ferro’s art, the two created a gorgeous little paperback book through which readers can lose themselves in artistically rendered mini-biographies of famous scientists.

The result of their efforts culminated in this lovely paperback, Inking Science.

Inking Science is a coffee-table, conversation-starting collection. It’s a breezy read to flip through on a rainy day when you’re looking for artistic or scientific inspiration. Each art piece of a scientist is joined by a brief story about them and their work. The tone of Bentivegna’s writing is conversational, casual enough to draw you in for an entertaining guide to the geniuses who’ve transformed STEM, both men and women.

Between these one-page biographies of scientists and inventors are full page layouts containing illustrations and quotes by the scientists themselves. I particularly loved some of these spreads for their creativity and the selected quotes. They’re inspirational and positive – readers leave the page feeling better about themselves and our world. Any book that has that effect is a good book, in my opinion.

One of my favorite pages in this book features Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency. Before you begin reading her page, you are encouraged to mindfully brew a cup of coffee, paying careful attention to each step of the process and the resulting aromas. Then you will learn that Cristoforetti was the first person to brew and drink coffee in space. She helped design an “experimental space espresso maker”. In Samantha’s words, “To boldly brew…”

I’m a coffee lover. I needed coffee just to write this review. How could I not adore this little fact?

I appreciate most SciArt because I’m artistically inept myself, but Ferro has such a creative approach to rendering her selected scientists that you can’t help but admire her work. The image above is a perfect example. Ferro weaves in whatever the scientist studies into his or her portrait, creating a complex image literally tying in each scientist’s interests alongside them. The result is a gorgeous gallery illustrating the connections between scientists and their science.

The two-page spreads with quotes and drawings also embody the spirit of each scientist and their motivation. Flipping through, you’ll encounter an equal mix of entertaining and educational stories alongside inspiring quotes. I love little books I can easily flip through and learn something new or feel motivated after reading, and Inking Science hits the mark. There’s really nothing about it I would want changed – I only wish the book were longer!

I am looking forward to seeing whether Ferro and Bentivegna collaborate on more projects in the future. And if you haven’t participated in Inktober before, I hope you consider buying a copy of Inking Science and using it to fuel your own inspiration for SciArt this October! If you aren’t an artist, this book makes a great gift for one or anyone else interested in learning more about the scientists who have changed our world.

If you are interested in winning a free copy of Inking Science, visit my Instagram @ReadMoreScience! Ferro and Bentivegna have graciously provided a copy of their book for one lucky winner. The giveaway ends 9/20/19.

Published by Sarah Olson Michel

Science writer, book reviewer, and cat enthusiast.

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