Illuminating Complex Ideas

Our partners at the Directory of Illustration have a specialist industry insight into scientific illustration through their Medical Illustration and Animation program.

The following selection is curated by their media coordinator, Marika Carradine, who offers a view from the USA on a range of illustrations themed around Science and Technology from across the categories.

Chiara Vercesi: Hope in Crisis

This editorial series strikes a perfect balance of gravity and levity in communicating the very solemn subject of the opioid crisis in the US while also distilling a feeling of optimism. The color palette as well as the lovely use of curved lines and rounded shapes soften the images to create a sense of comfort and hope. The contrasting colors also subtly relay the dualistic and necessary approaches to combatting the opioid crisis – seriousness and hopefulness.

Dawn Yang: Tomorrow, All Cyborgs

The art deco influence in this series offers a beautiful and fresh appeal in portraying such a highly technical and medically advanced concept like cerebral implants. There’s a wonderful homage to turn-of-the-century styling that creates a flair of Steam Punk whimsy and fantasy (particularly in the first image) that poetically reflects the futuristic and whimsical side of this novel, cutting-edge technology.

Elena Resko: Lise Meitner Project

The bright and explosive elements layered throughout the imagery creates a dynamic visual energy that captures the excitement of scientific discovery with splashes of femininity. The composition choices are clearly thoughtful and exceptionally effective at not only telling the story of Lise Meitner life as scientist but of expressing the emotions during these pivotal moments in her life.

Charlie Padgett: Making Contact

The graphite textures give this piece a wonderful vintage feel and make it so aesthetically pleasing. The minimal subject choice within the piece makes it graphically bold and conceptually pronounced, while beautifully conveying what a powerhouse the liver is for signalling and communicating with the whole body.

Isabel Roos: Journey into Light

These beautifully abstract images can be interpreted in two opposing ways for illustrating the wonders of science: one is art’s unique ability to showcase the concrete elements within scientific fields via the juxtaposition of abstract expression. The other interpretation is the abstract imagery reminds us of how little we really know and how much of the universe is still a mystery, still just abstract theories with infinite possibilities. This latter interpretation highlights the special symbiosis between art and science. The intricate layering of careful color choices here creates a dazzling effect that inspires the great curiosities of the physical world.

Justyna Green: Living with Endometriosis

The bold colors and detailed patterns vividly express the painful symptoms of this chronic, under diagnosed condition and they also translate the experience of the artist so poetically, making it very relatable to the viewer. Where words can fail to describe such an ineffable feeling of pain, the artist accomplishes it beautifully through her unique portrayal and personal visuals.

Fatinha Ramos: The Other US Epidemic

Sometimes less is so much more, and with the subject of suicide, the minimalistic imagery here speaks volumes. The artist’s powerful use of negative space strongly evokes the gut-wrenching emotions associated with suicide. The simple but deeply striking gesture of a hugging embrace triggers the human compassion and immense empathy within us all, transporting the viewer to both sides of the embrace and beautifully leaving the image open to interpretation for what both figures involved may be experiencing. A truly compelling, bold yet gentle, and palpable expression of heavily felt emotions.

Luisa Jung: Brain Fables

This is an excellent series of conceptual illustrations that bring the viewer on a fascinating visual journey. The softly textured yet architectural and geometric shapes convey a sense of excavation and exploration in such a lovely way, really drawing on the ‘fable’ aspect in the title of the book. The black backgrounds and loose compositions throughout the series not only create a beautifully aesthetic cohesions, they also depict how ‘in the dark’ neuroscience researchers must feel at times.