Two Photon Art is the creative outlet of two full-time scientists, Tera Johnson and Christine Liu. Tera is an environmental scientist at a non-profit in Los Angeles and Christine is pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at UC Berkeley. During the downtime of doing science, we are grateful to be able to express ourselves through art and share it with other scientists and science enthusiasts. Your support allows us to make fun, creative art in addition to giving back to our communities.
How it all began
When we met, we were only 19 and brought together by a summer research program for undergraduates at the University of Oregon. We bonded over our dual obsession with pesto, broccoli, and camping in the beautiful nature outside of Eugene, Oregon. Science brought us together again the next summer where we both conducted research at Stanford University. We grew closer over long nights of practicing research talks and even longer nights of celebrating our 21st birthdays together. Little did we know we would stay connected for so long, but the next summer right after our college graduations took us on an adventure across Thailand, Nepal, and the Philippines. Then, real life started. We plunged into the realities of graduate school and full-time work, realizing that we needed to make both artwork and our friendship a priority if we were to have time for either!
While floating in a lake and smearing volcanic ash on our faces in Nicaragua, we toyed with the idea of collaborating on a science art project. We're the kind of friends that love to sit in silence side by side and just draw. In fact, we were doing that so much on our trip that the owners of the hostel we were staying in asked us to paint a mural on our last night there! With the sun almost setting, we took the challenge and started painting a mural that was finished at 5 am the next day. Emboldened by this opportunity, we named our murals Serendipia and Fluido and decided we were going to go with the serendipitious flow and make art together.
We didn't even know how to pronounce the word "zine" (it's zeen by the way, like in magazine), but Tera had seen some before and thought it would be a relatively easy way to start our collaborative project. We decided to make a little zine about volcanoes -- to pay homage to the forces of nature that shaped the beauty we were surrounded by in Nicaragua. With the deadline for the 2015 East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest approaching, we were motivated to come up with a few zines to exhibit by December. As luck would have it, we did it! Volcanoes and Face Blindness were our first science zines but to make our table look a little more impressive we also made a fun coloring book zine. To round out the table, we hand-drew stickers in the shapes of atoms and flasks on free UPS shipping labels. With about $50 of supplies and half a table at EBABZ, we made a whopping $184 and we were overjoyed! We took the profit and put it towards more supplies and grew from there.
We work on some aspect of Two Photon Art almost every night and weekend. It's been such an amazing source of self-expression and fulfillment in our lives as we pursue scientific careers and has brought us to interesting places to share our work. We don't pay for traditional advertising so we rely heavily on the support of our friends and fans to share our art with others. For the constant support we've received over the past few years, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We use our profits to give back to the community as often as possible and try to pay opportunities forward. Check out our Activism pins to help us support our mission of increasing diverse science communication and supporting all scientists!