Katie Stanley, Medical illustrator, Media Solutions

Katie Stanley is a medical illustrator for Media Solutions.

Katie StanleyCan you describe your main duties?

My main duties are to provide illustration and design services, communicate with clients, and ensure projects are completed to meet the Client’s budget and deadlines.

Can you describe your educational background and training. How did you learn to become a medical illustrator?

I completed my undergraduate education at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where I obtained a B.F.A in Biomedical Art. The biomedical art program combined art/design classes with science and anatomy courses. I had the opportunity to partner with local science and medical organizations in Cleveland, OH for projects such as surgical & patient education, museum exhibition design, and illustrations for research. As a student I also worked as a medical illustrator intern at the Cleveland Clinic Dept. of Art and Photography, where I created graphics for publication. I was one of 6 graduating seniors in the state of Ohio to be awarded the Excellence in the Visual Arts Award by the AICUO (Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio) for my portfolio of scientific and medical illustrations. In addition to my education, I have also had my medical illustrations featured in fine art gallery exhibits around Ohio!

When did you start working in SMPH? What did you do before your current position?

I began working at SMPH in August of 2018. Before my current position, I was working for the University of Michigan where I created medical illustrations for massive open online courses (MOOC) and A&P (Anatomy and Physiology) courses at the university. In my free time, I have also been managing my own freelance illustration business.

Can you describe the process of working with faculty or other clients on a project. What are your respective roles? How does a project idea become realized?

Projects typically start with a client contacting our department to inquire about illustration or design work. I communicate with the client to figure out what the purpose of the illustration will be and to find out technical information such as file type/size, desired style, and the due date. I use this information to provide the client with a quote for the design and illustration services. Clients often provide me with reference images, sketches and information so that I can create an accurate illustration. Some projects involve complicated science or physiology that require me to do additional research in order to figure out the best way to represent the information. My goal with every project is to ensure that it is scientifically/medically accurate and that the information is being presented in a way that is clear and concise to the intended viewer. Once an illustration is completed it will then go through a process of revisions (if needed) until it is approved by the client. I always ensure that my clients are happy with the final work!

a medical illustration

What’s a project that you’re especially proud of and/or excited about?

One of the first projects I completed here was a cellular illustration of the epithelial cells located in the fallopian tube of the uterus. The purpose of this illustration was to show the process of gonorrhea bacterium cells binding to receptors on the epithelial surface and the reactions that are happening inside and outside of the cells. This project involved a lot of scientific information and I enjoyed the challenge of condensing it all into one image.

What is your favorite part of this job?

The best part of my job is the clients! It is so exciting to hear clients explain the amazing projects that they are working on and to be able to assist in bringing their ideas to life through art. I work with a wide variety of clients, such as doctors, scientists, faculty/staff and students, so there is always something very interesting going on. The passion that clients display for their research is very inspiring and I have so much respect for the work that they are doing. I love that I am able to contribute my skills as an artist to help make a difference in the world of healthcare and science.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is when a project has very strict restrictions on size, such as for a journal/publication. Size restriction causes many design problems, especially when a client wants a large number of labels/text in addition to images. It can be a challenge to ensure that all the content fits within the guidelines and that it is successfully conveying the information that the client wants. Luckily, I work in a department full of other amazing graphic designers/illustrators who are happy to offer their input/ideas when I am struggling with a design. Although it can be frustrating at times, I do enjoy the challenge and it feels great to overcome design obstacles!

Can you give us an example of your typical workday?

On a typical day I will have multiple projects that I am working on and occasionally an inquiry for a new project. I spend most of the day communicating with clients and working on projects in order of importance in regards to deadlines. For new inquiries, I will often meet with the client in person or have a phone conversation so that we can begin the project. If I have down time then I spend it studying design/illustration techniques via Lynda.com software tutorials and touching up on my anatomy/physiology knowledge through textbooks.

Do you do any other kinds of illustration?

I do a little bit of everything! I feel like as an artist it is important to always be exploring new techniques and styles outside of your comfort zone. In my free time I enjoy making cartoons/comics, abstract art, and sculptures. My favorite traditional medium to work with is watercolor and ink.

Where are you from?

I was born in fabulous Las Vegas! My family relocated to Ohio when I was very young, so I have spent most of my life in the Midwest. I moved to Wisconsin to start my position at Media Solutions.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my cat and five pet birds. I also love cooking, video games, and scuba diving. I enjoy travelling and for holidays I often go back to Ohio to visit with my family.