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Our story

While completing her Master of Science in Biochemistry & Cell Biology at Queen’s University, Sarah saw her peers and colleagues struggling to effectively communicate their research with others. She watched professors spend hours trying to create an accurate and engaging illustration of their research, and knew that she could help!

Sarah saw an opportunity to fill this gap by fusing her strong passion for science research with her expertise in graphic design and in 2017, Designs that Cell was born! Sarah’s vision for the company was a space where “scien-artists” such as herself and others could combine their science skills with their artistic prowess to illustrate the ideas of the scientific community.

Despite founding Designs that Cell in graduate school with limited business experience, Sarah dove headfirst into the company. As the company grew and client requests took off, Sarah realized that she couldn’t do it alone (can anyone?). She wanted to empower other graduate students in STEM by giving them opportunities to use their creative skills to help communicate science visually. In 2018, Natasha, Naomi, and Mina joined Designs that Cell to illustrate projects and help spread the word through social media!

We've grown to be a team of creative students and recent graduates who hold advanced degrees and have experience in graphic design and science communication. We have designed illustrations for over 40 scientific publications, a handful of books, and numerous grant figures and have consulted for a variety of non-profit and private companies. We’ve also started conducting our own research on how to communicate complex concepts to diverse audiences.

Our services and the team have expanded since 2018, but at our core, we remain the same: a collaborative, knowledgeable, and creative team of scientists who can’t wait to illustrate your ideas!

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Our mission

The first research-focused scientific illustration company in Canada!

Our mission at Designs that Cell is to provide working scientists, educators, clinicians and communicators with an efficient and accurate scientific illustrations service. We also aim to empower scientists by providing them with the resources and tools to compose a practical scientific illustration confidently. These services will be provided and developed by a team of professionally trained researchers, graphic designers and artists who strive to produce high-quality, engaging scientific illustrations for knowledge dissemination.

Our Values

  • Teamwork: We respect and value our colleagues’ expertise, opinions, and feedback. We work to uplift and support our colleagues as we are stronger together than apart.

  • Supporting trainees: We are committed to helping trainees at all stages of their education through internships, resources, training, and advocacy. 

  • Equity: We value diversity in people and ideas. We are committed to challenging ableism, racism, classism, transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia to create a safe and inclusive environment for our clients and colleagues.

  • Integrity: We are honest and professional in our relationships with our colleagues and clients. We honour our commitments and learn from our mistakes.

  • Supporting open access/ accessible science: As communicators, we know that science must be accessible to everyone to impact society and create change. Therefore, we support open access research to facilitate collaboration, engage diverse stakeholders, and advance health equity.

Our Vision

Designs that Cell aims to establish itself as a leader in the visual communication and scientific illustration community. Through the promotion, research on and creation of high-quality, engaging and accurate scientific illustrations, we aim to elevate the research disseminated from Canadian researchers.

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