16 medical illustrators doing groundbreaking work

Immunizations © Todd Buck. All images courtesy of the artists

Once upon a time, working as a medical illustrator might have seemed like a quirky niche. This year, however, that's all changed.

It's a field that's been evolving rapidly for a long time, with demand increasing year-on-year for highly trained and educated artists to help explain and promote new medical products and ideas. But in 2020, the Covid crisis has meant the need for clear and unambiguous visuals to educate citizens on a range of medical concepts, has risen like never before.

However, it's not a discipline any artist can jump into. Medical illustrators are professionals with advanced education in both the life sciences and visual communication. Assignments often require extensive background research, reading scientific papers, and perhaps observing a surgery or a laboratory procedure. Collaboration with scientists, physicians and other specialists can be an integral part of the creative process, as they transform complex information into visual images that communicate and educate in a way that photography just can't compete with.

In this article, we bring together 16 of the best medical illustrators and animators working today, including some studios that are producing cutting-edge virtual reality applications. They can all be found on the world's number one resource for medical and scientific art – the annual Medical Illustration & Animation Sourcebook and companion medillsb.com website, produced by Serbin Creative for the Association of Medical Illustrators.

1. Bryan Christie

Bryan Christie is an award-winning illustrator whose work has been featured in such publications as WIRED, Newsweek, The New York Times, Esquire, and Field & Stream. His medical illustrations cover a wide range of subject areas, from biotechnology to zoology, He's particularly well known for his detailed and impactful human anatomy work for the likes of Scientific American magazine.

© Bryan Christie

© Bryan Christie

2. Adam Questell

Adam Questell believes 3D graphics should do more than inform: they should illuminate. That's why he founded A KYU Design, to provide clear, concise, and effective communication for the medical and industrial communities through striking illustration, animation and design.

Part of a series of 27 illustrations for the definitive Merck Manuals Online, for Merck and Co. Each image was designed to capture the main idea of the body system or disease category © Adam Questell

Part of a series of 27 illustrations for the definitive Merck Manuals Online, for Merck and Co. Each image was designed to capture the main idea of the body system or disease category © Adam Questell

3. Andrew Baker

Andrew Baker has worked extensively in editorial and design settings, with clients ranging from The Guardian to Saatchi & Saatchi. He's won several awards including Gold for Editorial Illustration from the Association of Illustrators, and his work has been featured in Novum, Creative Review, and the D&AD annual. From editorial illustration and book covers to infographics, his cartoon-like medical illustration work is typically clear, colourful and accessible. Andrew is represented by Début Art.

An illustration for the British Heart Foundation, showing some of the effects of Diabetes on the body © Andrew Baker

An illustration for the British Heart Foundation, showing some of the effects of Diabetes on the body © Andrew Baker

4. Arkitek Scientific

3D animator Beth Anderson is co-founder and CEO of Arkitek Scientific, which creates high-end 3D content, including immersive VR and AR experiences. Their visualisations for biotech and pharmaceutical companies, science media and publishers, and higher education institutions help others better understand the dizzying array of new inventions and discoveries in the fields of science and technology.

5. Brian Harrold

Brian Harrold, the owner of Beru Graphics, has been illustrating and retouching for over 15 years. His precise yet approachable style of medical illustration has been applied to everything from visualising the coronavirus to deconstructing the fundamental elements of routine surgeries.

Artery Cutaway © Brian Harrold

Artery Cutaway © Brian Harrold

6. Anatomic Groove

Anatomic Groove is dedicated to creating medical animations that amaze, inspire, and educate. Topics covered range from biomedical processes within the human body to pharmaceutical videos introducing a new product.

Anatomic Groove

Anatomic Groove

7. Cynthia Turner

Cynthia Turner's work focuses on the visual needs of pharmaceutical and biotech research companies, and include large scale illustrations for medical conference exhibitions, and event and print collateral. Her striking visuals are known for their clarity of message and dramatic use of colour. She is represented by Shannon Associates.

Flora: Gastric Biota © Cynthia Turner

Flora: Gastric Biota © Cynthia Turner

8. Todd Buck

Since 1990 Todd Buck has been developing and creating medical and scientific illustrations for pharmaceutical and biotech advertising and marketing, medical and consumer publishing, as well as web-based patient education media. His illustrations have been exhibited in museums in the USA, Chile and Hong Kong.

Asthma © Todd Buck

Asthma © Todd Buck

9. Audra Geras

Audra Geras is an internationally renowned biomedical artist with degrees in both biology and visual biocommunications from the University of Toronto. Represented by The Weber Group, she is dedicated to responding to medical and scientific communication challenges with clear, accurate and beautiful visual storytelling, via custom illustration and 3D animated videos.

Melanocyte © Audra Geras

Melanocyte © Audra Geras

10. Lisa Clark

Lisa Clark is the president and principal creative of Clark Medical Illustration, a full-service medical, biological and scientific communications company in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Her background includes experience in medical and scientific illustration for patient and professional education, advertising, web, interactive media design, art direction and technology project management.

Alzheimer's Disease Biomarkers © Lisa A. Clark

Alzheimer's Disease Biomarkers © Lisa A. Clark

11. Ella Maru Studio

Ella Maru Studio combines PhD level scientific knowledge with professional art design to produce eye-catching scientific images and animations. She has designed cover art and figures for countless scientific journals, including Nature, Nature Physics, Nature Materials, Nature Nanotechnology, Cell, Nanoletters, Angewandte Chemie, and JACS.

© Ella Marushchenko

© Ella Marushchenko

12. Laurie O'Keefe

Laurie O'Keefe specialises in biomedical illustrations that provide engaging and educational views of science and nature. She uses traditional and digital methods to construct images for a variety of publishing formats, including textbooks, pharmaceutical product advertisement, museum and medical-legal exhibits, and her client list includes Google, Pfizer, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, IDEXX, and Purina.

© Laurie O'Keefe

© Laurie O'Keefe

13. Mesa Schumacher

Principal artist at Mesa Studios, Mesa Schumacher holds a science degree from Stanford, and a Masters in Biomedical Illustration from Johns Hopkins, and has over ten years' working experience in science art. Her work has been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, Cell and Neuron, among others.

Progesterone and receptor molecular scene © Mesa Schumacher

Progesterone and receptor molecular scene © Mesa Schumacher

14. Bill Graham of Graham Studios

Bill Graham has been creating illustrations, motion graphics, animations and explainers to the medical and pharmaceutical industry for over two decades. Providing full-service creative development, from concept and writing to storyboarding, art and animation, Bill is an Emmy-nominated specialist working with clients such as Amgen, Allergan, Merck, Genentech, Astellas, Lilly, Novartis, Shire, Procter & Gamble, Invisalign, WebMD, Cedars-Sinai and many others.

© Bill Graham

© Bill Graham

15. AXS Studio

For 15 years, AXS Studio has helped clients explain disease state, drug mechanism of action, and medical device function clearly and effectively, through animations and interactive experiences. Its team of medically-trained animators and illustrators aim to deliver beautiful yet accurate visualisations to its clients.

16. Oliver Burston

With over 20 years' experience as an illustrator, Oliver Burston works at the cutting edge of digital technology, employing the latest advances in 3D visualisation. His bold and colourful style offers a great way to visualise complex medical ideas in a way that a general audience can connect with. He is represented by Début Art.

Doctor Robot © Oliver Burston

Doctor Robot © Oliver Burston

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