Thursday, August 25, 2011

"You're a what?"

What is a Medical Illustrator?
A medical illustrator is a professional artist with advanced education in both the life sciences and visual communication. Collaborating with scientists, physicians, and other specialists, medical illustrators transform complex information into visual images that have the potential to communicate to broad audiences. The work of medical illustrators promotes education, research, patient care, public relations, and marketing efforts.

A medical illustrator is a visual problem solver. Background research, including reading scientific papers, meeting with scientific experts, perhaps observing surgery or a laboratory procedure, is often an integral part of the creative process.

Do you have a degree for that?
I earned a BFA in Scientific Illustration from the University of Georgia and
a Masters of Science in Medical Illustration from the Medical College of Georgia

What do you do?
I work for a medical legal graphics firm based in Virginia.  We produce demonstrative evidence for the defense of medical mal-practice litigation.  Our litigation support includes case review, courtroom exhibits, interactive products and animation.  Our products assist the physician defendant and their team of experts explain their case to the jury.  We "educate" the jury so they can understand the medicine and circumstances of the case.  

-click images to see larger view-
Objective:  to explain the plaintiff's ureteral obstruction
Objective:  to show the surgical set-up for laparoscopic appendectomy
Objective:  to show the plaintiff's injury, repair and result

Why don't you just take a picture?
The simple answer is that I draw what can't be seen
Hip replacement
Color pencil on print of graphite drawing

Medicine is an evolving science so Medical Illustrators are often called upon to illustrate new surgical techniques.  If a procedure is simply video-taped or photographed this is likely what the viewer will see

Below is a series of images I created for a surgeon at University of Virginia illustrating a surgical procedure he developed for traumatic abdominal wound closure.  The images are intentionally bloodless, easy to follow, and intended for teaching proper technique

Doesn't the computer do the work for you?
I wish.  The computer is just a really expensive paint brush.  Certainly it has made editing and production much more efficient.  While most of my work is digital in its final format I still start with a pencil and paper

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