Illustrations for an Academic Manuscript

Occasionally, I get a commission from an industry I wouldn't normally expect but I am always interested in learning from a new experience.

In this case, a friend was kind enough to recommend me to an assistant professor at a nearby university. She was looking to include some light-hearted illustrations to recap each of the sections of her tenure report on nursing, something I knew very little about. Working with an academic pushed me out of my comfort zone somewhat because I'm used to collaborating with someone who is also creative but this time I took on most of that responsibility while she provided all the expertise on the subject matter. She had never worked with an illustrator before so this was to be a new experience for the both of us.

Instead of a design brief I was given her report to read and see what images I could come up with. (Already outside that comfort zone!) Unfortunately, due to my limited knowledge of her field, some of my initial ideas didn't quite fit with what she had in mind so I had to do some additional research to be able to come up with something that would feel more sincere and believable. A lot of ideas were bounced back and forth before we narrowed it down to the following illustrations to accompany each of her sections. I think the collaboration went well.

Her Teaching Style

Instead of a conventional teaching image with a teacher at the head of the class pointing to a blackboard or diagram, she wanted to convey the collaborative nature of her teaching style with her nursing students. One such example was that she sometimes does what she calls 'silly demos', using muffins or pound cakes to illustrate different types of biopsies.

Road from Concept to Infographic

This was a tough one to finalize. She wanted images to express the journey to and from collaboration. In the end, a process map was the best way to show the concepts of education and leadership leading to collaboration, and collaboration potentially resulting in healthy living, a long life, and the funding of ideas or research.

One-Panel Stories

For the topic of Service & Caring in her report, she had three areas she wanted a visual representation showing service to the communities:

Department: Committee Work and Planning;

Professional Communities: Nursing and Higher Education; and

University Faculty: Volunteering and Collegiality.

While brainstorming ideas, fond memories of Calvin and Hobbes came to mind and I created these little humorous vignettes using a little girl and her toy minions to act out the scenes. My client loved it!

This experience really reminded me how much I enjoy drawing cute characters and scenes. I've noticed that a lot of my sketches tend to either the cute or somewhat humorous. As an artist, I'm inspired by a lot of things and I often wish I could do everything under the sun but perhaps I will stop fighting that desire and just go with the flow. :)