Few studies focus explicitly on changes to medical illustration in terms of the intentions and interests of illustrators and interactions with their clients. Based on data from interviews with medical illustrators in North America (March 2011-February 2012) this presentation poses the following question: How do professional medical illustrators discuss quality, honesty and beauty in their work and with their clients, and how might these perspectives influence their practices as a form of public communication? Results indicate most illustrators are intimately tied to these concepts: quality is talked about in terms of their personal ability, design approach, and impressions of their work in terms of other illustrators and time periods; honesty is linked to how to work with clients in different domains such as education in health professional and commercial domains; and definitions of beauty are based in a form of respect for scientific topics, broader personal opinions and life influences. It is in exploring these terms that illustrators reveal their goals for the images they create, where these goals are challenged by the variety of clientele they work with, and how their belief that any intended audience can learn the most difficult of scientific topics remains sound.

If it is true that “(i)n the performativity of imaging, life gets into the image” (Bolt 2004, p. 1), then the commentary of the intentions and actions of those visualizing science become important data in the creation of the imaged material world. “Today medical illustrators are dedicated to furthering science and healthcare worldwide.” Accustomed to navigating both the steady and the changing aspects of science and technology in terms of their processes and topics, and broadening their sponsors and audiences where opportunities exist, illustrators’ thoughts on quality, honesty and beauty become guiding principles for a profession historically dedicated to visualizing science.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

“We decided to change the visual vocabulary”
Medical illustrators navigate their clientele

Meaghan Brierley   University of Calgary

Few studies focus explicitly on changes to medical illustration in terms of the intentions and interests of illustrators and interactions with their clients. Based on data from interviews with medical illustrators in North America (March 2011-February 2012) this presentation poses the following question: How do professional medical illustrators discuss quality, honesty and beauty in their work and with their clients, and how might these perspectives influence their practices as a form of public communication? Results indicate most illustrators are intimately tied to these concepts: quality is talked about in terms of their personal ability, design approach, and impressions of their work in terms of other illustrators and time periods; honesty is linked to how to work with clients in different domains such as education in health professional and commercial domains; and definitions of beauty are based in a form of respect for scientific topics, broader personal opinions and life influences. It is in exploring these terms that illustrators reveal their goals for the images they create, where these goals are challenged by the variety of clientele they work with, and how their belief that any intended audience can learn the most difficult of scientific topics remains sound.

If it is true that “(i)n the performativity of imaging, life gets into the image” (Bolt 2004, p. 1), then the commentary of the intentions and actions of those visualizing science become important data in the creation of the imaged material world. “Today medical illustrators are dedicated to furthering science and healthcare worldwide.” Accustomed to navigating both the steady and the changing aspects of science and technology in terms of their processes and topics, and broadening their sponsors and audiences where opportunities exist, illustrators’ thoughts on quality, honesty and beauty become guiding principles for a profession historically dedicated to visualizing science.

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