CREATORS – Nicholas Bezio

In ALL, CREATORS by McKenzie Prillaman

Name: Nicholas Bezio

Which came first in your life, the science or the art?

Art came first, as both of my parents are artistic and taught me a lot of the basics from an early age. Art was my hobby up until university, when it took a back seat for a few years so I could focus on my work for my two degrees in marine biology and environmental chemistry. It wasn’t until after I graduated that art became a focus again once I was attending the Science Illustration Certificate Program at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB).

Two seadragons swimming near the ocean floor among seaweed.
Sea Dragons of Australia by Nicholas Bezio, coloured pencil on Bristol
Two sea angels, which are a transparent blue color with some orange regions, floating in a dark black ocean
Sea Angels by Nicholas Bezio, coloured pencil on Bristol

Which sciences relate to your art practice?

Marine biology and biology in general. I’m drawn to things that may be considered oddities or bizarre in the natural world, and there is nothing more beautifully bizarre than the ocean. But beyond that, I also incorporate other subjects in my work, like geology, cellular science, and even chemistry.

“I’m drawn to things that may be considered oddities or bizarre in the natural world, and there is nothing more beautifully bizarre than the ocean.”

Nicholas Bezio

What materials do you use to create your artworks?

Although I can use a variety of mediums, I mostly use three different mediums to create my artwork: coloured pencil, Adobe Photoshop, or pen/ink/crow-quill. It is no secret that coloured pencil is my default and favourite medium to work in. [Pencils] are straightforward to use and clean, diverse in their application, and provide a great sense of control. I must admit that they are somewhat slow to work with, though. Sometimes I am even known to add watercolour as a base or use acrylics for highlights in the final artwork, as it’s just so hard to keep your whites white.

Beryl Hummingbird with green feathers and a grey head sitting on some twisted wire
Beryl Hummingbird by Nicholas Bezio, coloured pencil on Bristol
Close-up of an emerald ash borer beetle. Wings are closed in the top image, showing its emerald green exterior, and wings are open in the bottom image, revealing it's reddish coloured body.
Emerald Ash Borer by Nicholas Bezio, coloured pencil on Bristol

Artwork/Exhibition you are most proud of:

I’ve only been a part of one exhibit so far, which was the final exhibition that my science illustration program at CSUMB has at the local natural history museum. So by default, that one would have to be my favourite. I got to go through almost everything that goes into creating such an event; it was a very eye-opening experience.

I feel that every new illustration I make is an improvement from its predecessor. So I would say currently I’m most proud of the most recent project I’ve been working on, which is a recreation of the Burgess Shale during the Cambrian period.

Three images of shark eggs progressing in development from left to right
Shark Eggs Trilogy by Nicholas Bezio, coloured pencil on 300 lb watercolour paper

Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?

This is going to sound corny, but currently, the individuals that have been the greatest influence on me are my professors from the grad program at CSUMB. Before I attended the program, art was only a hobby. They opened up my eyes and inspired me to improve. So special thanks to Ann Caudle, Jennifer Keller, Amadeo Bachar, Andrea Dingeldein, and Jane Kim.

Black and white drawings of horseshoe treehoppers at three different angles and stages of development.
Horseshoe Treehopper by Nicholas Bezio, graphite on coquille board
Multiple carnivorous plants, including pitcher plants and Venus flytraps, growing together on the forest floor.
Carnivorous Plants of North America by Nicholas Bezio, Photoshop

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

My work aims to show how beautiful some of the most bizarre and abstract forms of life on the planet are, and how their uniqueness and alien-like appearances make them breathtaking. In the end, I want to make the public aware of these fantastic creatures and teach people about them before they potentially disappear forever from a rapidly changing planet.

Scene at the edge of a tide pool with multiple marine animals, including a sea star, anemone, fish, and mollusks.
Community in the Tidepools by Nicholas Bezio, coloured pencil on 300 lb watercolour paper

For more by Nicholas Bezio, visit his website, Twitter, or Instagram.

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About the Author

McKenzie Prillaman

McKenzie is a fledgling science communicator working at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She has a background in neuroscience, and was a research assistant at the University of Virginia and a postbaccalaureate fellow at the National Institutes of Health. After years of thinking she’d become a neuroscience researcher, she discovered her passion for sharing science with others. That finding, in combination with her lifelong dabbling in the arts, led her to write for Art the Science's blog. In her free time, she can be found volunteering with the Smithsonian Associates studio arts classes, trying new foods, and wandering around her home of Washington, D.C. Twitter: @meprillaman