ABBY GARRETT is an Author, Spaceflight Communicator, Speaker, Creative Director, and Professional Space Artist affiliated with the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA). She's the creator of the original "SpaceX cartoons," a comic strip that began between 2015-2016. Abby's mission as a Spaceflight Communicator and Space Artist is "to bring rocket science down to Earth through art." She is best known for her SpaceX-inspired children's book and comic series, Go For Launch Comics. Abby's academic background is in Psychology & Neuroscience, as well as Business and Nursing. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, she enjoyed speaking at at-risk schools and helping students, teachers, and even space professionals with leadership coaching, team dynamics, curriculum design, and outreach strategy. Since the pandemic began, she's been particularly focused on nursing and spaceflight medicine.
Abby is known on social media for not just her comic strip series, but also her original "Oppy Phone Home" art piece created after the Mars Opportunity Rover lost communication with Earth. This art went viral, was featured by NASA and news outlets like CNET, CNN, CBS, and India Today. Abby has illustrated and published children's books in addition to her Go For Launch series for clients like NASA Astronaut Ron Garan and Education Expert Marsha Thauwald, among others. She is also a mission patch designer, created the design for the ULA CubeCorps Mission, Apollo 12 50th Anniversary Commemorative, and several designs for individual SpaceX teams. One of her earliest designs was recently featured on the HBO show Watchmen. Abby has collaborated with and provided art for companies like SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Iridium, and major industry events like Spacefest and Yuri’s Night. She believes in not just using art to inspire kids, but to empower teachers and prevent burnout among engineers working tirelessly to advance human spaceflight. She promotes STE(A)M outreach in communities to encourage curiosity for space and help others relate to the history, current achievements, and future goals of spaceflight through art. She hopes to expand the medical aspect of her work and is in the early stages of Medicine for Mars and @theAstronurse--two projects concentrated on science communication, using art to communicate scientific concepts, support for nurses and healthcare heroes, burnout help, and highlighting the importance of space medicine and human physiology in space. Of course, these projects feature cartoons and detailed drawings every now and then, as well.
ABBY IN HER OWN WORDS
I’m a self-taught artist and have been drawing since the day I could pick up a pencil. In addition to art, I have a background in psychology and neuroscience, as well as business and nursing. I am a formerly competitive classical soprano and started college as a music major, eventually turned minor. I fell in love with psychology research, became a research assistant, finished by Bachelor's at Baylor University, then went on to do research and project management in healthcare. If you can't tell, I wear many "hats," very shaped by my diverse interests and not-so-typical experience for someone on the younger side. I’ve been a performance coach since 2012, am a Spaceflight Communicator in schools and online, and have worked with hospital management teams on leadership development and curriculum design. That's a wide range, but never a dull moment! I serve on the Board of Directors for local charities, namely McLennan County Pack of Hope, was selected as a member of Leadership Waco in 2015, and am an experienced public speaker. Also, if you can't tell, I'm an avid research geek in my spare time when I'm not creating art or learning animation. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been in nursing school for a second Bachelor's degree. This has widened my scope and I now incorporate more space medicine-related topics into my artistic outreach work. I also have a strong research interest in burnout prevention in nurses.
Seeing kids’ eyes light up with awe and excitement is why I do what I do. Seeing teachers, engineers, healthcare professionals, and others grow in confidence of their ability to lead and create positive change is so rewarding. As an artist, I believe art is a powerful way to communicate scientific concepts, spaceflight history, the awesomeness of rockets, and ignite interest in STEM-related fields. Though I do a few different things professionally, my deepest drive is to create a ripple effect of positive change. To inspire one or inspire all to be all they can be and dream beyond what they could previously imagine. I aim not just to excite and create interest, but to empower.
LITTLE ABBY TO NOW: MY PERSONAL STORY &
THE STORY OF GO FOR LAUNCH COMICS (WRITTEN 2018)
I’ve been doing art since I was old enough to pick up a pencil (probably 3 years old) and have loved space my entire life. I grew up in the shuttle era and remember watching launches on TV when I was a kid. I remember hearing the sonic boom from shuttles upon atmospheric reentry, as well as running outside to see STS-88 (Endeavour) fly over. Growing up aware of spaceflight influenced my creativity, as I often turned ordinary toys into rockets, airplanes, and mission control-type setups. I turned my play kitchen into a rocket… the sink faucet was a steering mechanism, the phone a control pad, and the stove burners controlled thrust. My little brother was “cargo” and fit inside the “pod bay.” When we were ready to launch, we would tuck in the table, close the “pod bay door,” and go through countdown. What can I say, I was a creative kid!
The Shuttle Era was a huge inspiration to me. I loved the astronauts, especially the female ones. I thought they were so cool and wondered if I could be like that one day...go to space and float around in zero-g. I had a huge imagination and big dreams as a kid, seemingly limitless. However, the Columbia explosion occurred over Central Texas and I could see a trail of smoke high above my house. This vivid memory, the news that followed, and my realization of the gravity of it all really put me in contact with the idea at a young age that "space is really hard." It's dangerous and requires brilliance and bravery on behalf of the crew and teams involved. It's for an elite few who are the best of the best, ready to take on anything. As I grew older and classes became more difficult (and more boring to me), I struggled in math despite usually making honor roll. I loved science but knew that math proficiency was really important for working in the space program or becoming an astronaut. My iron will and imagination were slowly constricted every time I tried and failed, and tried, and failed again (by fail, I mean make a B or a C). I just never found math--at least in the way I was taught it--easy like some of my friends did. Common Core curriculum and standardized testing being a thing and all... I realize much later in life that alternate forms of teaching might have benefitted me greatly and boosted my confidence in subjects I found I wasn't naturally inclined toward. However, that wasn't the case and I developed an aversion and boredom with math. I always dreaded sitting through the class, doing assignments, or taking tests. I never understood because it was literally never taught to me why certain types of mathematics were important or useful to know, or how they even applied to everyday life. So, I was just bored out of my mind and focused on music, which I was extremely accomplished at from the age of 12. I mainly learned boring math for tests and then chunked it out of my mind, making room for Mozart concertos instead unless how the teacher taught that math managed to get stuck in my head (I've realized this is a sign of good teaching methodology). Music was where I won 1st and shined most, and though I loved biology classes, I focused most on what I was best at. Music and eventually leadership. I went on to forget about my fascination of space and rejected almost any goal that required math as a barrier to entry. At 15, I started having issues with my hands that affected how I played clarinet. I still managed to win pretty much every competition, though. However, this condition progressed into carpal tunnel, which progressed into another diagnosis--thoracic outlet syndrome. Then that progressed to, "Oh, we think you might have something wrong with your spine" and a long road towards figuring that out. I was in a lot of pain, had to sit out during choir rehearsal (sometimes lying on the floor for relief), and was in Occupational & Physical Therapy a couple times a week after school. My perfect record on clarinet was still pretty darn good, but I could tell what was happening. I think this was my first experience with what depression feels like--like the thing you love the most is being taken away from you for mysterious reasons and all you can do is watch it fall and feel the emotional pain of it. My clarinet professor pushed me as hard as a college student, the pressure to get 1st all the time pushed me hard, and I pushed myself to burnout, finishing my last All-State Band concert with two arm braces, looking up at the mezzanines and painted ceiling of the auditorium, knowing that was the last time I would ever perform there. Bittersweet. I finally had my first spine (neck) surgery about a year later at age 17, just after I became Drum Major of the marching band and was achieving high ranks in singing competitions. That first surgery affected the nerves in my throat and I completely lost an entire register of my voice--the register I sing most in as a soprano. I essentially was only left with a speaking voice, not a singing one. Because of all this--just one thing after another--I learned the value of going with the flow as much as you can and not getting too stuck on one outcome. The surgery included taking a chunk out of my hip (iliac crest), removing two intervertebral discs in my neck, replacing those discs with bone, fixing all that area together with titanium plates and screws, and waiting until it all fused into one section of bone. I healed from the surgery relatively fast, got to resume my Drum Major duties, and gained my singing voice back 6 months later. Things continued to go well in voice competitions and drum major stuff. I auditioned for the Baylor school of music a year later, was accepted, and that was that. I pursued what I was best at, accomplished two lifelong dreams, ended up burnt out again realizing I didn't care so much about music history or theory, and switched to the pull of psychology. Fast forward a bit more, I became a personal trainer and rock climbing instructor, failed my first class ever (cramming an entire year's worth of Statistics into a summer semester consisting of about 6 weeks max killed me). This stirred up my math fears again and feelings of incompetence. I survived, made encouraging friends, had an awesome TA, and passed the next time. I wrote research papers that all got A's, even started my own independent study and became a researcher. As luck would have it, I injured my spine again just after graduating from college
Luckily, I also grew up about 30 miles from a rocket testing facility! SpaceX purchased the old defunct Beal Aerospace/Rocketdyne/US Navy facility in McGregor, TX in 2011. This facility was originally a World War II bomb manufacturing plant, which is evident from overhead views of bunkers, ordinance sheds, and random ground disturbance from explosives. Rocketdyne, the company that created the Saturn V and Space Shuttle engines, also owned the site from 1959-1978, followed by Hercules Incorporated (1978-1995), and then Beale Aerospace (1998-2000), who constructed the iconic Tripod test stand before ceasing operations. SpaceX leased the property in 2003 and began constructing test stands and conducting Merlin engine tests in 2007. On November 22, 2008 late at night, SpaceX conducted the first 9-engine full mission-length Falcon 9 test on the Tripod. This loud test alarmed tons of Waco residents, partially due to acoustics influenced by low cloud cover, and is known by some as the “test that woke up Waco.” The combination of my love of space, STEM, and Greater Waco makes me a passionate supporter of SpaceX.
More recently, I’ve been incredibly involved in the Greater Waco community, serving on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit (McLennan County Pack of Hope), collaborating with executives and organizations as a member of Leadership Waco, and supporting other organizations that promote equality, wellbeing, and unification of diverse communities within Waco. I’ve been a Certified Life Coach and Performance Optimization Coach since 2012, and my background in psychology research combined with my experience working with various individuals and groups has enabled me to assist initiatives that create positive change. I am passionate about the wellbeing of our county and want to see it and its people thrive.
Now, I speak at area schools to encourage kids to dream big and learn about STEM fields, illustrate children’s books, comics, and create space art. My artistic specialities are colored pencil, pencil & ink, acrylic, realism, and abstract expressionism with multimedia. I like to combine my passion for psychology research with creating art. For me, it’s not always about the art itself, but the message behind it. It’s about the emotion art can invoke in another person, inspiring them into action. My mission is to educate and empower through my art. If my art stirs something powerful within a person when they look at it, then I’ve successfully done my job.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, I have returned to my roots in healthcare and decided to use the lockdown time to get another Bachelor's degree, this time in Nursing. I still try to find time to do art, design shirts, and work on various Go for Launch Comics and space medicine-related projects. I will return to public art appearances by 2022-2023, assuming the pandemic is no longer active.
Feel free to take a look at my portfolio, artwork, and connect on social media! My availability will remain limited for the duration of the pandemic (2020-2021), but I am available on an online consulting, coaching, speaking, and design basis. I still seek to collaborate with other STEM professionals, schools, hospitals/clinics, engineering teams, and aerospace companies. My contact info and social media links are below.
CONTACT & BOOKING
BOOKING: Please contact me by email at abbygarrettVIP@gmail.com to specifically discuss a possible speaking event at your school or venue!
ORDER/PRODUCT QUESTIONS: Questions on orders or anything else should be sent to abbygarrettartVIP@gmail.com as soon as possible. Any customizations like book inscriptions must be placed in the message section of each order, which is then sent to me when the order is placed. I sometime get close to 400-500 emails a day and often take breaks from social media, so DM and email are not guarantees regarding signed/customized items like this.
ART: For serious inquiries regarding custom designs, purchasing an original painting, or art commissions totaling $500 and up ($250 minimum), please contact me at abbygarrettartVIP@gmail.com with "ART" in the subject line if possible.
PATRONAGE: If you would like to support what I do and contribute to my overall goal of expanding reach to inspire more people, please visit my Patreon page to view my specific goals, rewards, and how you can directly make a difference. Click HERE to learn more.
CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
Sticker Mule (the best stickers in the universe): https://www.stickermule.com/unlock?ref_id=2329101701&utm_medium=link&utm_source=invite