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Designing a conservation message with Eric Losh

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Eric Losh (pronouns: he/him) is a graphic designer and illustrator with a passion for wildlife and conservation based in New York, USA.  Eric shares his journey as well as some of his achievements including the creation of two children’s books about the wonders and wildlife of the natural world. He also shares his advice for anyone looking to apply their creative passion for wildlife to any career and about being an advocate for nature in your spare time. Eric’s story is a testament to the meaningful impact that individuals can have when they let their passion guide them in the world of conservation. Whether you’re an artist, a marketer, or simply someone with a deep love for nature, his journey serves as an inspiration to us all.

Designing a conservation message with Eric Losh | #itsawildlife

ERIC’S JOURNEY

Eric’s journey is one of balance and passion. He was always fascinated by wildlife but also skilled in illustration. He explains –

“I was always drawing the animals all the time, copying them from books or taking inspiration from what I see on TV, drawing my own scenes and exploring wildlife and the wild world through art.”

His creative skill set around art has since expanded to include marketing, design and storytelling. Now in his day job, he serves as a creative director for a marketing agency in New York City, a role that is seemingly distant from his wildlife conservation interests. However, Eric has found equilibrium by dedicating a significant portion of his life to illustration and design applied to the world of wildlife conservation in line with his passion for nature.

He takes on freelance work with various conservation organizations, creating illustrations for their programs and announcements. Additionally, Eric has written and illustrated children’s books centred around wildlife and conservation. He juggles these diverse responsibilities, keeping himself busy and deeply engaged in the realm of wildlife conservation.

“It keeps me busy, but also very stimulated and very excited to be applying myself towards wildlife conservation.”

MARKETING AND DESIGNING A CONSERVATION MESSAGE

Eric’s creative endeavors are a testament to the significant role that creativity plays in wildlife conservation. He combines his expertise in graphic design and marketing with his passion for wildlife, crafting illustrations and visual content that effectively communicate conservation messages. As someone who walks between both the world of marketing and design, and the world of wildlife conservation, Eric has a unique skill set that he applies to designing and marketing conservation in his personal work. He explains –

“I do think I might be a little bit unique in that aspect, focusing on graphic design as an applied creativity for commercial causes, for brands and consumer goods… But then taking that knowledge and execution of marketing, even using video and animation that I’ve learned at my day job and figured out ways to apply it to the work I’m doing personally with wildlife.”

“How those messages get crafted in the right ways, all the care and consideration that go into creating content and storytelling, whether it’s a brand or for a purpose or a cause that you have, I’m kind of approaching it in similar ways.”

“I’ve gotten a lot of insight about how I can use some of those skills and certainly work ethic to the work that I bring about for wildlife conservation by jumping into the marketing space.”

Through his work, he bridges the gap between the creative world and the conservation field. His ability to create engaging, visually appealing content helps conservation organizations reach broader audiences and inspire action.

INSPIRING KIDS THROUGH NATURE STORYTELLING

As a child, Eric’s passion grew hand in hand with his love of art and drawing. He explains –

“I was constantly wanting to learn more and building this big database of knowledge for myself. I think at the same time, my art developed hand in hand with my interest in wildlife.”

Years later when reflecting on his own passions and experiences, Eric has combined the child-like curiosity and fascination with the natural world into storybooks. He explains –

“Especially for young children in their formative years. I think some of it comes down to the sense of exploration that children have when they’re growing up. They need to want to explore and learn about their environment, whether it’s looking, touching and tasting or really seeing what the new things are in their life and constantly learning and building upon that.”

“And I think as an adult, I’m still doing that. I’m still getting excited about that aspect of things.”

Eric has seen the importance of exploring nature for children. He explains –

“I think animals are attractive to children at a young age, and although sometimes they fall out of the interest and move on to other things, I still think it’s important to instil a love for nature in kids – people of all ages – to appreciate the things in their backyards.”

“But I think what keeps things interesting is that the plants and animals around you aren’t always obvious. Many are hidden – birds, mammals – and its fun to discover what is out there, what might be just beyond view!”

So often, we forget there is a whole world of interactivity between plants and animals and their ecosystem happening around us. And, this is the place from which Eric writes his children’s books.

“I think there’s just always something to be fascinated by.”

COMBINING CREATIVITY WITH NATURE

We asked Eric about some of the barriers he experienced in getting involved in the wildlife space – and how he felt we could better reduce them to increase appreciation and financial renumeration for wildlife art and design. He replied –

“Certain barriers I needed to learn to overcome were about being forthright about my interests, my passions, what I would like to do, being the person who might send a cold call email to somebody who might be working for an organization that they respect.”

Reaching out and making personal connections is an important way to get your name out there and publicize your interests.

“Building your network, especially in the conservation space is important because people are very connected with each other and very familiar with work that one group is doing versus the next and that’s how I’ve created opportunities for myself.”

“I think a lot of that was about being a little bit brave and stepping out of my comfort zone to strike up a conversation or send the email to say: hey, would you be interested in some illustration work.”

Another huge barrier is the lack of money and value for this type of work by broader society. For Eric, it’s all about balancing income with interest –

“I definitely consider myself fortunate that I can be in the position to kind of balance multiple workloads and take on some work with lower or no pay. I mean, not everyone has that opportunity to be able to do that. I recognize my privilege there in the flexibility I’ve built for myself with that.”

Overcoming imposter syndrome and managing your work load to prevent burn out are important skills for all artists to learn – and Eric recommends that a good way to do this is to draw lots, and cultivate your personal style to create art you feel proud of sharing –

“Being an artist, I had to get to a point where I was comfortable with the work that I was producing and understanding that I draw birds and it’s not feather perfect, but that’s not my goal to get every little piece of anatomy 100 % correct – for me, it’s about colour, emotion and energy in the drawing.”

“You have to build up that confidence that your work is good enough and it’s worth being shared and let that drive you.”

“And when we’re talking about bringing different skill sets to conservation, I fully try to capitalize on the fact that I’m coming through a side door to these organizations through a medium that is unfamiliar to them or their network and so I can provide something new.”

So, if you’re passionate about becoming a wildlife artist, Eric says his top advice is to practice making art and developing your style and skills –

“Being an artist is about making art – practicing, scribbling, sketching, experimenting a little bit, changing your subject matter here and there. Nothing drastic, birds to salamanders or something. But stick with it. It’s about determination, and it’s a slow burn.”

“For so many people, it’s a slow burn to develop some sort of professional situation in life that they feel satisfied with. And you just have to mark your successes in small increments and set yourself small, realistic goals… And then be open to adapting and changing that a little bit along the way.”

For aspiring naturalists, illustrators, or creatives with a passion for nature, Eric offers valuable advice. He emphasizes the importance of practice and determination in honing your skills. Building confidence, reaching out to organizations, and showcasing your passion are key steps in breaking into the field. He suggests setting small, realistic goals and being open to adapting your path as you learn and grow. Eric’s journey is a testament to the power of passion and creativity in driving meaningful contributions to wildlife conservation.

KEEP IN TOUCH

Want to hear more from Eric? Tune into the podcast or check out his design work which is displayed on the signage at Queens Zoo in New York. You can also view his work or reach out online – on his website or on Instagram at @eric.losh.

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