Botanical artist

Botanical artists accurately record plant life and fungi on paper and other mediums either scientifically or artistically to sell, teach or exhibit

Training, qualifications and skills Art and design diploma; BA degree; can be self-taught. In order to teach in schools and colleges you will need formal teaching certificates. To be a good tutor you need good communication skills and plenty of art experience
Career progression opportunities Often there aren't formal vacancies for botanical artists. Be prepared to work for yourself and you can go as far as your talents, effort and perseverance will take you – teaching, workshops, artist in residence, employment at Kew in their archive, exhibiting and selling your work.
Useful links SBA
Botanical Art and Artist (includes an education section)

Focus on: Botanical artist and tutor

Billy Showell
Full time, salary up to £25k

I fell in love with plants and flowers and then fell in love with painting them in watercolour. Over the last 25 years I’ve taught students how to paint plants in detail. Alongside my teaching I have written four how-to books about my style of painting. I love teaching art and I love botany and the two loves make my career.

Start painting. Try to develop a unique style that brings a fresh perspective. Entering your work at shows to get recognition for your skills.

I have learnt a lot about gardening and plants from my students. Every aspect of my career has increased my love of all things horticultural. I am presently the co-president of the Society of Botanical Artists. My latest hobby is wild native flora, which I am hoping to encourage in my garden and then illustrate in order to raise awareness of our wonderful countryside heritage.

Focus on: Botanical artist

Wendy Smith
Part time, salary range variable

I began botanical art as a way of dealing with depression. My art is about trying to capture the natural world, my garden, individual plants, and the local environment. I am trying to record the beauty, the variety and sometimes the things less noticed such as seed heads and dying forms. Botanical art has a scientific importance too with a history going back centuries and encompasses the work of the early plant hunters.

Draw. Use all your observational skills. Practise. Find a class near you or go online. Be ambitious. Dream big. The younger you start the better! You will need another income at first.

Botanical art records of every stage of a plant. Traditionally watercolour was the medium, but I love ink and coloured pencil. I have also used charcoal, graphite and collage techniques. I learnt my craft in adult education, and have gone on to achieve a Certificate of Botanical Merit from the Society of Botanical Artists and a Silver medal in 2019 ffrom the RHS for seven drawings of clematis. I have big ambitions for the future.

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.