Sunday, December 6, 2015

STUDIO SPACE: Evelyn Pence

Evelyn Pence is a professional illustrator experienced in the field of instructive science and health information. With over 15 years experience in academic publishing focusing on higher education and professional healthcare education, her work can be found throughout many leading college publications, websites, professional education materials, and scientific, medical and technical journals.
Evelyn trained at the University of Michigan, where she received a Master’s of Fine Art in Medical and Biological Illustration. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration, Marketing from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. She is a certified medical illustrator (CMI). She is a professional member of the Association of Medical Illustrators.

Location: Newport Kentucky
On the Drawing Table: Liver surgery
Coming out soon: Psychology text 

How did you get your start as a professional artist?
When I was a student, I did a class project with a professor of radiology. He was developing a special way to inject contrast into arteries to get clearer MRI scans. He gave me my first job after graduation to illustrate protocols for publication. I worked for him until I took a job at a start-up near Washington DC where I developed medical illustrations and animations for patient education websites. After a while, I moved back to the Cincinnati area to work for the professors at the University of Cincinnati Geology Department. At the same time, I began freelancing and transitioned to my own business full time.

Describe your work.
Primarily, I illustrate academic textbooks. For years, I did Biology and Anatomy books. Lately I’ve been working on Psychology texts. The work is more editorial, a change I really enjoy. Some of my favorite work is medical legal, because it’s so interesting to draw the unique anatomy from real patients. This work involves creating demonstrative evidence for juries in medical malpractice trials. And since this is Cincinnati – we are a consumer goods kind of city– work comes in for package illustrations.

Scientific illustration needs to be fairly realistic. If you can count it, you should draw it. The style varies depending on my clients. For example, surgical illustrations for medical professionals might be very realistic or highly schematic, and tricky for some non-medical people to stomach or understand. Patient education for children is abstracted and simplified to be cute and friendly. My goal is to be as clear and accurate as possible in a style that is appropriate for the audience.

I work in a studio in my home. It’s both spacious and cozy, furnished with old library tables and bookshelves holding reference materials. It has tall windows that look out over our pretty historic neighborhood. It’s usually a little cluttered, but I’ll admit I love it best it when it’s clean and organized.

Favorite materials
I studied with traditional materials, so I still have a special fondness for pen and ink, and even a material that usually only medical illustrators know about: carbon dust. For fun, I really like watercolor.  Out of practicality, everything I do for work is digital. I resisted going all digital at first, but now I don’t know what I would do without computers. I use a stylus and pressure tablet to draw everything. Sometimes I go weeks without touching a pencil.

Typical workday
The day starts early around 7:30 to check client emails and jump in to production. If I have clients in town, I will usually meet with them in person to develop reference materials and launch a project. Otherwise, if I’m not sitting at my screen, I’m not getting much done. I usually eat lunch at my desk. I try to take breaks to move around and rest my eyes. I’ll wrap things up around 3:00 to pick up my kids from school. Depending on their activities for the afternoon, I may or may not be able to get back to work. If I have tight deadlines or pressing client emails, I will work evenings and weekends.

Deadlines! (and knowing that I have limited time to work before family life will disrupt productivity).

Not much. I’m more likely to sketch if work gets slow.  Here are some sketches from my anatomical sketching class– medical illustration students are required to spend a semester dissecting and drawing a human cadaver.

What do I listen to when I work?
I like to listen to public radio, TED Talks, pod casts and audio books. I’m listening to “The Fates and the Furies” by Lauren Groff right now.

It’s hard to find a medical illustrator who isn’t influenced by the father of medical illustration: Max Brödel. Also many others, some are: Da Vinci, Ingres, Vermeer, Maxfield Parrish, Chuck Close and Edward Gorey for his pen and ink.

Nature gives more than I could ever need. I think fungi are strange (neither plants nor animals), unpredictable and weirdly beautiful. Once I tried a few large oil paintings. Not sure I did the fungi justice.

Best career advice
Don’t be afraid to talk to people you admire. They might help you. Other good advice: Do not think your art will speak for itself. Buck up and find a way to promote your work.

Favorite color 
Green–maybe because it’s rare in the human body. Really only the gall bladder is green. It’s a very pretty green.

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