Frequently Asked Questions
You are probably still wondering, “What is medical illustration exactly?” This is probably the question we get asked the most. 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. Want to learn more? Explore the frequently asked questions below, or drop us a line.
About the Field
FAQs about Medical Illustration
What is Medical Illustration?
Medical Illustrators draw what can’t be seen, watch what’s never been done, and tell thousands about it without saying a word. –Bill Gramley, Neal Pointer, Bill Winn, 1978
Medical and scientific illustration is the perfect combination of artistic skill with scientific accuracy. Medical illustration is the term applied to a specific form of artwork that focuses on medical subjects and is performed by highly trained and skilled professional artists. The focus of this art form is to convey ideas and concepts in medicine that would simply be impossible to represent in any other medium.
Medical illustrations can be exact and rigorous, or be conceptual and interpretive. Illustration styles can range from highly technical and detailed to artistic and stylized. Medical illustrations are used in a wide variety of fields that depend on imagery to convey meaning and information. This includes advertising, editorial, institutional, legal, home health, academic, and instructional. Sitting at the forefront in medical advancement and emerging markets, medical illustration is frequently used to convey in a visual form what would be difficult, if not impossible, to convey in written or photographic media. The requirement for an artistic eye combined with technical skill and has continued to make medical illustration a field held in high regard. Medical illustration can trace its roots back to Leonardo da Vinci and beyond. Its rich history is peppered with artistic and scientific luminaries and geniuses that developed the field into an art form of its own. In the early 20th century, the field became more formally established when a young German illustrator named Max Brödel was brought to the US at the request of a prominent surgeon at Johns Hopkins University. Brödel subsequently started a school at the University, the strength and quality of which helped to start a number of other medical illustration curricula at other institutes of higher learning. To date, six major, accredited schools of medical illustration exist in the US and Canada. Brödel’s legacy remains strong at Johns Hopkins, whose medical illustration program is considered to be foremost in the world.[/toggle][toggle] Medical illustrations can be exact and rigorous, or be conceptual and interpretive. Illustration styles can range from highly technical and detailed to artistic and stylized. Medical illustrations are used in a wide variety of fields that depend on imagery to convey meaning and information. This includes advertising, editorial, institutional, legal, home health, academic, and instructional. Sitting at the forefront in medical advancement and emerging markets, medical illustration is frequently used to convey in a visual form what would be difficult, if not impossible, to convey in written or photographic media. The requirement for an artistic eye combined with technical skill and has continued to make medical illustration a field held in high regard. Medical illustration can trace its roots back to Leonardo da Vinci and beyond. Its rich history is peppered with artistic and scientific luminaries and geniuses that developed the field into an art form of its own. In the early 20th century, the field became more formally established when a young German illustrator named Max Brödel was brought to the US at the request of a prominent surgeon at Johns Hopkins University. Brödel subsequently started a school at the University, the strength and quality of which helped to start a number of other medical illustration curricula at other institutes of higher learning. To date, six major, accredited schools of medical illustration exist in the US and Canada. Brödel’s legacy remains strong at Johns Hopkins, whose medical illustration program is considered to be foremost in the world.
How does one become a medical illustrator? Does it require special training?
The majority of medical illustrators in the United States and Canada have a master’s degree from an accredited graduate program in medical illustration. Currently four accredited programs (Johns Hopkins, Augusta University, University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Toronto) exist in North America, each accepting between 7 and 20 students per year. U.S. agencies do not accredit outside the United States. However the American Accreditation Review Committee recognizes that University of Toronto demonstrates compliance with accreditation standards.
Accreditation is a status granted to educational programs that meet or exceed a specific set of criteria for educational quality. The Association of Medical Illustrators developed the first set of educational standards for accreditation and began accrediting programs in 1967. Today, accreditation is awarded by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs (CAAHEP), and the accreditation standards are revised every few years to reflect changes in the profession.
High school students contemplating medical illustration as a career should take a college preparatory program with as much emphasis on art and science as possible. In college, the best program would be a bachelor’s degree with a double major in art and biology, or a major in one and a minor in the other is preferred. Art courses should include drawing, advanced life drawing, painting, color theory, advertising design, illustration, computer graphics, and photography. In the sciences, students should include general biology or zoology, vertebrate anatomy, embryology, physiology, chemistry, and histology. Science courses must be of the caliber required for medical school. source: www.ami.org.
What is “CMI” Board Certification?
The Board of Certification of Medical Illustrators (BCMI) administers a certification program for illustrators who seek a recognizable means of credentialing. The designation of Certified Medical Illustrator (CMI) denotes this voluntarily earned credential and provides a recognizable means of signifying a practitioners current competency in the profession of medical illustration. Certified Medical Illustrators have passed examinations dealing with business practices, ethics, biomedical science, drawing skills, and have undergone a rigorous portfolio review.
Once earned, the CMI credential is maintained through meeting continuing education requirements designed to maintain competencies required for practice. Certification is a program endorsed by the Association of Medical Illustrators to encourage lifelong learning and to measure professional competency for those illustrators and clients who voluntarily desire such credentialing. Similar to specialty certification for physicians, the competency evaluation consists of a written test and a practicum. The BCMI objectively measures and evaluates the examination results and awards certification on successful completion.
Any practicing medical illustrator who meets the eligibility requirements may apply to become board certified and obtain the designation Certified Medical Illustrator (CMI). Certification is for a five-year period and is renewed at the end of each period.
Where can I find more information on Medical and Scientific illustration as a career?
Those who are interested in additional information on becoming a medical illustrator can utilize many resources. The following are recommended venues for more information:
(1) Contact the Association of Medical Illustrators: AMI Headquarters 201 E. Main Street, Ste. 1405 Lexington, KY 40507 U.S.A. tel: 1-866-393-4AMI (or 1-866-393-4264) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(2) Contact the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators: Post Office Box 652 Ben Franklin Station Washington DC 20044-0652 Phone/fax: (301) 309-1514 E-mail: email@example.com
(3) Contact Graduate Programs offering Degree Programs in Medical and/or Scientific Illustration: Click here to see a listing of accredited graduate school programs and other schools with curricula in medical and scientific communications.
Any other questions? If you can’t find the information you need while exploring this site, please feel free to contact: Fairman Studios voice:: 781.647.7510 fax:: 240.597.0366 firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the AMI?
The Association of Medical Illustrators is an international organization founded in 1945, and incorporated in Illinois. Its members are primarily artists who create material designed to facilitate the recording and dissemination of medical and bioscientific knowledge through visual communication media. Members are involved not only in the creation of such material, but also serve in consultant, advisory, educational and administrative capacities in all aspects of bioscientific communications and related areas of visual education. The professional objectives of the AMI are to promote the study and advancement of medical illustration and allied fields of visual communication, and to promote understanding and cooperation with the medical profession and related health science professions. For more information, please visit the Association of Medical Illustrators’ Website.
What is the Vesalius Trust?
The Vesalius Trust for Visual Communication in the Health Sciences was incorporated as a non-profit public foundation in 1988. Established under the direction of the Board of Governors of the Association of Medical Illustrators, a professional organization of medically trained visual communicators, the Trust strives to develop and support education and research programs in the field of health science communications. The Association of Medical Illustrators sought to establish a public educational foundation for the purpose of raising and maintaining funds to be used for developing and supporting education and research within the field of medical illustration and related visual communication professions, and for advancing education and communication in medicine and the health sciences. Since its founding in 1988, the Trust has endeavored to identify and secure funding for educational and research activities in visual communications in the health sciences, and to act as a conduit for these resources. Currently, the Trust supports: Scholarships, research grants, continuing professional education, and an international recognition program for exceptional contributions to medical education. The Trust intends to expand its scope of supported activities to include: publication of instructional and informational materials; underwriting programs facilitating interactions between biocommunication students, faculty, practitioners and the lay public; and sponsoring activities which increase the awareness of the significance of visual communications in the health sciences and health care delivery system. source: www.vesaliustrust.org For more information, please visit the Vesalius Trust Website
About Fairman Studios
FAQs about Our Services
What services do you offer?
Fairman Studios offers biocommunications services including medical, biological and scientific illustration and animation. We produce illustrations of anatomical, patient education, surgical, conceptual, editorial, medical device, molecular, and genetic subject matters. Our illustrations and animations are used for print and web publications as well as for more specialized needs such as presentations and trade show displays. Fairman Studios also offers web design and publication services.
What are your qualifications?
Fairman Studios offers a comprehensive portfolio gallery on this site that we believe speaks for itself about the quality of our work with various different subject matter and presentation media. Jennifer Fairman, Founder and Principal Creative graduated with a Masters degree in Medical and Biological Illustration for the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and has been practicing in the field for over 2 decades. We are also a Board Certified Medical Illustration Studio practice. Following the guidelines of the National Organizations for Competency Assurance, the Medical Illustrators Board of Certification administers a two-part test to verify the competency of medical illustrators. The test includes a written examination, plus a stringent portfolio review. Eligibility for certification includes graduation from an AMI-accredited graduate program in medical and biological illustration or five years experience as a medical illustrator and proof of successful completion of a dissection course in human gross anatomy or its equivalent. Certified medical illustrators (designated by the letters, CMI) must participate in continuing education programs to maintain certification status. Please visit our news room for continuing announcements of new projects, awards, updates to this website, and other newsworthy information about Fairman Studios.
What techniques do you use to produce illustrations and animations?
How does Fairman Studios work with its clients?
Every project starts with a consultation at no cost by phone, fax, email or in person in order to assess the prospective project requirements and the client’s interests and preferences. Consultation components range from subject-matter, budget, and deadline, to the usage, quantity, style and technique of the art or design work itself. Based upon these factors, an estimate is written and a price quote is negotiated and agreed upon. That’s when Fairman Studios hits the drawing board. Sketches are drawn and discussed via phone, email or personal contact, depending on the project. Usually, several revisions are produced before final artwork is submitted for a project.
How much do your services cost?
In general, the price is impacted a variety of factors:
- Number of illustrations
- Number of colors and quality of rendering
- 2-dimensional versus 3-dimensional imagery
- Single image versus animated imagery
- Economies of scale — multiple images in a series always cost less than individual images stand-alone
- Amount of research necessary to accurately represent the subject, correlating to complexity and visual intricacy of the subject.
- Existing reference material available
- Number of changes needed
- Timing of project: standard vs. rush job
- The market the artwork will be used for
- Usage, distribution and ownership rights
As with any contracted service, the exact final cost for a project is impossible to fix at the outset. However, a free initial consultation will allow Fairman Studios to assess the scope of the project and needs of the client. Fairman Studios charges by the hour for its services, and is happy to offer you a quote that best matches our skills and services to your budget and desired outcome. Please call or email to talk to us about your specific needs. Fairman Studios provides great value for the money, and is priced very competitively against most professional illustration studios. We believe that choosing Fairman Studios is healthy for your medical or scientific illustration project and for your wallet.
How much do your services cost? How long does it take to complete a typical project?
As mentioned above under the “how much do your services cost?” tab, the specific needs of the client dictate how long a project takes. The greater the subject complexity, intricacy, and number of images, the longer it will take for us to complete to your satisfaction. Simple illustrations can take just days while more complex projects can take weeks or months. Fairman Studios always provides a schedule and time estimate along with its price estimate, and always strives to deliver its services on or ahead of time and on budget.