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The Rewild(her)’s Journey: conservation through illustration



My name is Marissa Quinn and I am an artist from San Diego, California. Since the completion of my MFA (Master of Fine Art) degree two years ago, I have held a dream in my heart  – a dream to travel up and down the entire West Coast of the United States by living and camping out of my van in order to create an illustrated book of our land!

The Idea:

In my thesis for my MFA (Master of Fine Arts) degree, I wrote about a little thing in the world of conservation biology called “rewilding” and pushed this theory further into ecological conservation through community building and art-making….Now I won’t bore you with the details, but in a nutshell, rewilding is basically large-scale restoring, and protecting wilderness areas and natural processes while reintroducing apex predators and keystone species back into ecosystems in hopes of recreating natural environmental balance. On an human level, rewilding is a holistic way of life, calling us back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors’ understanding of the connectivity of nature, the balance of life on Earth. It is the undoing of domestication, placing equal value on all creatures and releasing human control over nature. It is also an individual call to return to a more natural or wild state.

This journey will be my experiment in actually living out the ideas in my thesis paper by enacting rewilding on personal level, bringing about communal awareness of changing environments and action through art and lifestyle.

With that being said, this journey will be a leap into the unknown and a documentation of my own transformation into a natural and holistic lifestyle. For me, the journey is just as important as the end product, hence the name of the book “The Rewild(her)’s Journey”.

Film by Molly Steele for Urban Outfitters 2015
Film by Molly Steele for Urban Outfitters 2015

The Journey: 

From June 5th – July 31st I will be living out of my van, traveling, camping, exploring, hiking, photographing, and illustrating my observations and experiences of the West Coast land. The first 4 weeks (June 5th – July 3rd) will be spent traveling from the boarder of Mexico along the coast up to the boarder of Canada! Once I kiss the boarder I will head south to return home through inland National Parks for another four weeks (July 3rd – July 31st). This is really significant as this summer marks the 100 year anniversary of our National Parks!

Film by Molly Steele for Urban Outfitters 2015
Film by Molly Steele for Urban Outfitters 2015

The Book:

“The Rewild(her)’s Journey” will be an experiential book meant to serve as the reader’s guide to travel and drawing. It will be filled with sketches, notes, quotes, thoughts, and feelings from the road spilled out onto100+ pages. Think messy sketchbook meets modern design with a blend of narrative and poetry.

example of my current sketchbook
example of my current sketchbook

This will be hardcover book wrapped in warm off-white canvas with rose-gold lettering details. The off-white cover is meant to get dirty, showing evidence of the reader’s reconnection with nature. The inside pages will be printed on thick textured matte paper, giving the reader the experience of a watercolor sketchbook. At the beginning of each chapter there will be a hand-drawn map pin-pointing the location of the creation of the chapter in order to bring the reader through the journey. Blank velum pages (thick tracing paper), will be at the end of each chapter so that the reader can tear them out and trace the sketches in the chapter, as well as several blank pages for the reader’s own sketches and notes. One section near the end of the book will be devoted to presenting clean pages of completed landscape and specimen drawings. These pages will be the place where biological illustration dances with my internal process of transformation and spiritual awakening.

Film by Molly Steele for Urban Outfitter's 2015
Film by Molly Steele for Urban Outfitter’s 2015
seaweed specimen field study
seaweed specimen field study

The Funds Explained: $7,000 goal

$3,000: The first $3,000 will be utilized to cover the cost of gas, campsites, park passes, and other traveling expenses and supplies. Because I have just stepped down from my full-time job, this portion of fundraising is extremely helpful!

$4,000: This portion of your financial donation will be directed towards the publication costs for “The Rewild(her)’s Journey”. This number also includes the collaborative costs of working with other artists on the graphic design, photography, editing, and printing of the book.

Plan for additional Funding: This trip is a HUGE leap of faith, involving financial sacrifice for the purpose connecting art and environmentalism. Any extra funding gained will be used to support the start up costs of jumping into my dream of being a full-time artist. 10% of any extra funding will also be donated to conservation groups (to be determined.)

Donations Welcome:

I would LOVE any and all donations as well! If you or your brand are interested in sponsering this trip through product, please email me at!

Here are a few of the items I am in need of, and if you have them laying around, send them my way and I will mail you a thank you postcard:

– Tent

– Cooking stove

– Sleeping bag

– Lantern

– Flashlight

– Warm Jackets

– Hiking Gear and boots


"Moon Flower: Ipomoea alba" for postcard print
“Moon Flower: Ipomoea alba” for postcard print
"Held in a Fond but Distant Memory" for print reward
“Held in a Fond but Distant Memory” for print reward
"Drink the Moon's Reflection" for postcard and print option
“Drink the Moon’s Reflection” for postcard and print option
"Wellspring" print reward option
“Wellspring” print reward option

Additional Examples of Work:

"Rewild(her)" 7'x5' progress shot
“Rewild(her)” 7’x5′ progress shot
8'x6' progress shot for the Museum of Art and History of Lancaster
8’x6′ progress shot for the Museum of Art and History of Lancaster

To see more of my work click the links below!

Special thanks:

Thank you soooo much to Evan Schell for documenting my studio process over the past several months! Check out his work here:

Thank you also to Austin Novy for your support, curating my show, your networking skills, and for your photography! Check out Austin’s work here:

And lastly, thank you so SWENYO brand for supporting my work and for pushing me to do this trip! Check out SWENYO here:

Risks and challenges

Like any start-up projects there are a few risks involved here, such as my fear of heights and my lack of camping experience, but hey, its all part of the adventure! Haha!

As far as producing the book, I have a few contacts who are helping me find a printer! I want to be part of the production, and am looking to produce this book as a collaboration between several artists. If you are interested in being part of the production of this book, please email me at!

If any problems arise, you will be notified immediately!

Thank you!


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