Designing SETI Institute Graphics: Guest Blogger Danielle Futselaar

(I’m thrilled that guest blogger Danielle Futselaar took time out from her very busy schedule to write the following post about her association with the SETI Institute. In her non-native tongue, no less.

I met Danielle through the wonderful world of Facebook. She somehow found out about A Life’s Work — drawn to it by SETI — and a correspondence began.  Danielle is a graphic designer and illustrator and owner of ArtSource Graphic Design. She has been — for a year now — the volunteer graphic designer for the SETI Institute. She lives in Arnhem, Netherlands.)

Is it not weird, how some things happen, and how you then wonder that things might happen for a reason, or how extraordinary it is that it happened at all?

My involvement with SETI and the SETI Institute has been such a thing.

I’ve always been interested in sci-fi and SETI. Who hasn’t wondered if we are alone in the universe? Many a time my husband and I gazed at the sky talking about stuff like that… (My husband has like 300 books on the subject.)

SETI reseacher Seth Shostak and I had communicated via email for a little while, and through him I learned more about his work, the Institute, Big Picture Science (their radio show). Two years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Seth in person in San Francisco. He’s an inspiration when it comes to SETI research and the SETI Institute and all things astronomy.

 

Heeding SETI’s Distress Signal

When I heard that the Institute was in financial distress, and that the Allen Telescope Array was being put in hibernation because of that, I felt I had to come to their aid. So I digitally screamed out over the Internet how horrible their situation was, gave them ideas to improve their marketing and offered my help as a concept developer and graphic designer. My offer went unanswered.

Four months later I was ready to throw in my towel (and that’s the worst thing for a Douglas Adams fan like me). I wrote SETI again and they apologized (like a thousand times) and explained that they had not seen my offers and ideas, and if I still wanted to help, they’d be interested. That’s how it began, right when I thought it was over, it really only just began…

So I created some stuff, for TeamSETI, and for the Christmas membership appeal 2011. This led to designing a poster for SETIcon II (see image). When the people of the Institute saw that they were super excited. They LOVED it. I think they responded to the Drake Equation in the soap-bubbles…

Please Danielle, Can We Have More?

And then they said they really wanted three posters…This led to all the graphic work for SETIcon. I work alone and have for many years. I don’t subcontract or have employees. Needless to say, this turned out to be a lot of work for many months.

I designed a total of four posters, and everything else that needed to be done, from online-banners in many shapes and sizes, name-tags, directional signs, agenda boards, to eventually the program flyer… and I designed a lot of other stuff for the Institute as well, but that’s another story. I also created an artist impression of “Astroid Minerva and its two Moons,” a drawing based on the discovery by Franck Marchis, one of the SETI scientists.

The Rewards of Volunteering for SETI

They were so happy and thankful for everything I had done that they asked me to join a panel to discuss the topic “imagining exoplanets, artists getting it right” because of this Artist Impression. Franck Marchis will be the moderator of this panel. And I was also asked if I would like to have my illustrations in an exhibition! (Uhhh… Yeah!)

And that’s where we are now…

I am kind of nervous because I will finally meet those people I have worked so hard for. They will all be there — Seth, Jill Tarter, Frank Drake, Franck Marchis — all the graphic work I created will be there. Is it OK for me to be nervous?

To be continued …