Isabel Heiland is the creator of Amanita Muscaria, the Scribendi 2020 Staff Choice award winner for visual art.

  1.  You go to a coffee shop. What do you order? 

When I go get coffee (which is frequently), I normally order a plain latte, sometimes with two shots if I’m feeling like I need it! 

  1. What is your first memory of art? In nature? 

My first memory of art in general is actually watching my sister Kelsey (two years older than me) make really cool graphite drawings. She is very artistically talented, and especially from my little kid point of view, they were the best drawings in the world. In nature, I’ve always been attracted to the abstract shapes and colors of different things, such as the overlay of tree branches against a sunset-colored sky, the shape and movement of different types of clouds, and the way the snowflakes reflect a camera’s flash at night. It’s little things like this that have really drawn me to the idea of scientific illustration. 

  1. What is your favorite type of plant? 

My favorite type of plants are any of the ones that respond to touch (a mechanism called thigmotropism). For example, Venus Fly Traps and Mimosas are so cool. 

  1. Please drop your gardening tips here:  

You’re not going to be impressed with my gardening tips, as I’m only able to keep plants alive through my art… in reality, I have the worst black thumb. I can do everything I know I need to do for a plant, and it still may die! 

  1. How did you get started with intaglio? 

I got started with the intaglio process when I took Printmaking I in the Spring of 2019. I fell in love with it, and all of the nuances that come out of such an indirect method of creating. In particular, aquatint (creating shades of black on the plate) is my favorite part of the intaglio process. 

  1. What does intaglio printing, and other forms of printmaking offer that other types do not in terms of your creative process?  

Printmaking in general challenges my systematic approach to creating art. I am very much so a by-the-book, idea to paper kind of person. I am good at translating my concepts directly into my final pieces. Because of printmaking’s inconsistent nature, it forces me to think in different ways when problems arise that I did not anticipate. It has been a really good way of getting out of my head and simply creating. 

  1. What was your inspiration behind ‘Amanita Muscaria’? What drew you to this fungi in particular?  

I took Mycology (the study of fungi) in the Fall of 2018. I loved that class, and all of the crazy organisms we learned about. I am drawn to Amanita Muscaria in general because it is the classic fairytale book mushroom. There is a bit of whimsy in its bright red cap adorned with those classic white dots. It’s interesting to me how nature can create something so inherently cartoon-ish. 

  1. What are five things that are making you happy right now?  

My family, my dog, my amazing friends, the coming spring and warmer weather, and working on a new art piece. 

  1. What are five social media accounts, books, or happenings that our audience should be paying attention to right now?  

Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the musical artist Grimes (electropop), the book The Martian by Andy Weir, my friend’s band Dog Basketball (indie-pop), and the movie Annihilation. 

  1. Where can our audience find your work?  

I have an Instagram account devoted to my art: