What is a Medical Illustrator?

what-is-a-medical-illustratorIf you would like to pursue a career in a unique field that requires a wide range of talents and artistic skill, becoming a medical illustrator might be for you.

Medical illustration is a great choice for those who want to use their inherent artistic skills to pursue a mainstream profession in the medical field where they must learn about concepts and life sciences and how to communicate to a broad audience with visual aides.

If you would like to learn more about what an illustrator does and where they may work, read on.

What is the Primary Role of Medical Illustrators?

Medical illustrators are professional artists who are responsible for using their artistry and their advanced knowledge to create visual images that can be used by the masses. The purpose of the illustrator is to collaborate with scientists, physicians, professors or other relevant professionals in an effort to communicate a complex topic so it can be easily understood by a widespread audience of people who may not have a background in life sciences.

What Do Illustrators Do?

Illustrators must not only collaborate with a team of professionals, but also do their own research so that they can use specific information on studies and experiments as they are trying to decide on an angle to take. They may watch a procedure or even observe a surgery so that they can see exactly the steps that are taken in an effort to create an effective visual model. Depending on the setting, it is possible that an illustrator could create instructional videos, illustrations for textbooks, computer graphics and more.

Where Do Illustrators Work?

With advances in technology and the way that life sciences is taught, it is possible to specialize in different areas within the field. Where an illustrator with expansive knowledge in life sciences will work will depend on their specialty and where they are able to land a position. You might specialize in a specific subject matter within an area of medicine or in a specific type of visual media, like 3-d modeling. It is also possible to specialize in the type of audience you create aides for. There is a high demand for illustrators who create advertisements in pharmaceutical settings.

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There are only about 2000 illustrators who are currently employed in the field. Out of these professionals, about one-third own their own business and offer services to a wide variety of clients. Others work for advertising companies, law firms, clinics, health organizations, universities, research institutions or for medical textbook publishers.

If you want to work in this field, you will need to have a natural ability in art and science. Since the field is so small, you will also need to complete a formal education program and network so that you can demonstrate that you are talented and have acquired the required knowledge and skills in a formal setting. It is recommended that you major in art and minor in a Life Sciences area of study like Biology. Once you complete art courses and courses in the sciences, you will need to enroll in a master’s program where you can major in art and minor in Biological Sciences. Once you complete the necessary college programs, you will be on the path to become a medical illustrator.