Historically Famous People Illustrated

This is an ongoing personal project to create illustrations of some famous historical characters. I will add more illustrations as I do them. Some of these famous folk are still living but most are dead.

Vera Rubin – Astronomer

Vera Rubin was a physicist and astronomer who pioneer work on the existence of dark matter. She was the only astronomy major to graduate from Vassar College in 1948. When she sought to enrol as a graduate student at Princeton, she learned that women were not allowed in the university’s graduate astronomy program, so she instead earned her master’s degree from Cornell. There’s a nice obituary of Vera Rubin’s life on the New York Times site. 

Vera Rubin Astronomer illustrated by jennifer farley

Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist

Rosa Parks is a hero for anyone who believes in social justice for all and is known as “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”. The story of how she refused to give up her seat on a bus, in a section marked “Whites Only” is moving and inspiring. There’s a great biography about her on the Academy of Achievement website, with photographs and video.

Rosa Parks Illustrated by Jennifer Farley

Albert Einstein – Physicist

I’ve seen the following quote attributed to Einstein many times:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

But it seems that he never actually said or wrote this. which is a bit disappointing because it’s a great thought: ) The quote I’ve used in my illustration comes from something Einstein wrote in his essay Self-Portrait (1936),

“What is significant in one’s own existence one is hardly aware, and it certainly should not bother the other fellow. What does a fish know about the water in which he swims all his life?”

As always, this illustration started out as a sketch which I finished in Photoshop. The notepad below is an actual scan of Einstein’s own notebook. You can view many of his notebooks here on the Einstein Archive.

Vera Rubin Astronomer illustrated by jennifer farley

Dalai Lama – Leader of Tibet

This is my first living historical figure in this current illustration project and this time it’s H.H. Dalai Lama. In fact, there’s two Dalai Lamas here – the very young boy and the elderly man. I’ve been lucky enough to hear him speak a number of times and it really is something special. He is truly the definition of peace and it was an honour to be in the same room as him.

So here’s my illustration, young and old Dalai Lama with the Potala Palace in Lhasa Tibet in the background.

Dalai Lama illustrated by Jennifer Farley

Isaac Newton

Here’s the exact moment when Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity 🙂

Isaac Newton discovers gravity illustrated by jennifer farley

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte (French: Napoléon Bonaparte, Italian: Napoleone Buonaparte😉  was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution and its associated wars in Europe.

Napoleon Bonaparte illustrated by jennifer farley

Jennifer Farley

Jennifer Farley is an Irish illustrator, designer, and author. She creates colourful, retro-inspired characters for books, maps, print, web, advertising and promotional events. Jennifer is also a design instructor and has been teaching Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom and InDesign for nearly 15 years.