Signs of Life: How Illustrated Wildlife Signage is Enhancing Visitors' Experiences in Nature Reserves

As an illustrator with a passion for nature, being commissioned to create illustrated wildlife signage for the Willsbridge Mill nature reserve was a dream come true. The brief was to design a sign for their recently refurbished pond and another for their river, each featuring a list of the wildlife found in those habitats. The best part? I was given free rein to design the signs.

Pond Wildlife illustration with Identification

With so many species to include, I decided to create a scene that would showcase the diversity of wildlife found in those areas. I started by researching the different plants and animals, paying particular attention to their colours and behaviours.

For the pond sign, I wanted to create a tranquil scene that would reflect the peacefulness of the area. I decided to feature a pair of Mallard ducks paddling in the pond showing both above and below the waterline. That way, I could add the dragonflies and damselflies fluttering above and newts, frogs, and beetles below to add another dimension to the scene. The sign would serve as a reminder of the importance of maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem in the pond and be used by both children and adults to practice their identification skills.

River Wildlife wildlife board commissioned by Willsbridge mill nature reserve

River Wildlife Illustration with Identification


For the river sign, I wanted to create a more dynamic scene to reflect the energy of the water flowing through the reserve compared to the pond, but again using a split between above and below the waterline. I chose to feature an otter collecting materials, with a kingfisher perched on a branch above, drying her wings. I also included some fish and a heron in the background to add more depth to the scene. The sign would serve as a reminder of the abundance of wildlife that depends on the river for survival, most of which the common person might not realise lives here.

The final designs were approved by the Nature Reserve directors, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. The signs were printed on durable materials and installed in their respective locations, where they continue to educate visitors about the incredible wildlife found in the Willsbridge Mill nature reserve.

Being able to combine my love of nature with my passion for illustration was an incredible experience. It’s inspiring to know that my artwork is making a difference by raising awareness about the importance of protecting these habitats and the wildlife that calls them home while educating the younger generation and often even the older generation.

Finished River Wildlife Sign 

I highly recommend visiting Willsbridge Mill Community Refresh and the surrounding woodland. You can also find a variety of my wildlife-illustrated products stocked in their gift shop. 

 

The completed design was printed on durable boards as part of a permanent display at the pond.

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