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Fri, 14 Oct 2011 05:14:31 +0000
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Thanks everyone for  your input.  I may be going about things in an odd manor.  I'm in a science based graduate program and I need to decide if I'm going to do a research based project, possibly specializing in GIS, or head towards an extension science based position. 

 It seems that for extension scientists, particularly at the State Agent/County Agent level, one normally has to give lots of presentations.  This is not my preference, I would rather work behind the scenes.  One individual I have heard of works for a scientist and helps him create his powerpoint presentations and perhaps other displays.  I would guess that that scientist is TOO BUSY to do it himself, and perhaps not creative enough to design appealing presenatations.  I would guess that her position is one of few, likely founded in the sciences.

The positions you mention, are they generally advertised as graphic designers, illustrators?  I would prefer not to be completely founded in the arts, as I may be slightly better at science than art.  However, I am much better with the arts than most scientists.  So if there is a way to bridge the gap a bit, but still be employable, that would be helpful.

My illustrations are finally about to be published in an article with another scientist.  Despite multiple requests to the scientist and his requests to the journal publisher, my art work will still be shrunk down.  I wonder if it was the scientist or the journal that ultimately decided to shrink my artwork.  It may have boiled down to cost, as it is expensive to publish.  This is the gap, that I think is sometimes missing between scientists and artists, as many scientists look at the logistics, rather than 'does it look pretty.'  

There are also getting to be more and more programs that are making it easier and easier for scientists to create their own displays.  Yet, as you said it, likely not in a very attractive or interesting manner.  Imagine if all scientific displays were designed by an artist/scientist WOW!  

So it's hard to know where to head in today's society?  GIS, currently is something that does require some art skills and is just booming, in terms of job availability.  However, so many of the jobs require sitting at a desk 8hrs/day.  Probably fewer and fewer of these jobs are requiring field work now a days.  Science - Art- Extension - GIS??


From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Britt Griswold [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2011 9:04 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCIART] Extension Presentations and Illustration


I think the diffusion of graphic tools, computer literacy, and availability of "free" imagery
through the web does present science artists with large questions on their role in the process of
illustrating science.

Just as the job of secretary has undergone large changes in the past 50 years due to computer
technology, the job of artist/illustrator is undergoing change as well.

I just finished a week of preparing and modifying, sometimes on an hourly basis, illustrations for a
science mission proposal. Authors of the proposal had all the same software as I did, but that does
not mean they knew how to use it well, or create eye pleasing results.  What this meant was that I
could concentrate on doing what I do best, without every last thing having to be funneled through
me. Now I am back to my normal work: illustration, web site management, video preparation, 3D
modeling, photography, education and outreach meetings, etc. etc. etc.

Than means fewer jobs that are specialized (illustration and graphics, presentations) because more
tasks can be spread around to the whole team on a project. The same goes for secretaries. There are
fewer of them and they handle specialized tasks that others could do- but the secretaries are now
"Departmental Assistants" and know these tasks better, and fewer "secretaries" service a larger
group of customers. Writing and typing are now relegated to the customer because they can do it
"good enough". That means there are fewer positions for publication editors as well.

The job of Presentation and Illustration creation in the current situation means that you have to be
significantly better at it than your customers, so that you can be brought in when the new,
customized, and specific information needs to be presented in a eye grabbing manner. This is when
the "free" art and standard templates will not cut it.  This is when an artist is still needed.

What this means however is that there is likely to be no formal way to learn the craft through an
apprentice system on a team of artists. That is how it use to be done. The "graphics shop" is no
more. Now it is often people who know how to do stuff along with their original job, and they
gradually specialize.

Shops are now only possible in larger organizations, and these need to have a goal closely
associated with a major component of the organizations mission. We have a shadow of our former
graphics shop here in an organization of 7000 employees. It now deals with publication graphics, web
design, specialized photography, and government printing. Presentation graphics is gone. And it is
no longer the first stop for anyone except for government contracted printing. It stays alive by
having specialized, quality skills. But it only gets a small percentage of the work it would once
have gotten- mostly work that will be appearing to the outside world (and not all of that either).
Almost none of the internal work. That is done by customers cause it is "good enough".

Another example is the Proposal Office. We have one here with a couple graphic/presentation
specialists, but they have a hard time staffing up in rush periods, so even the proposal work is now
being diffused throughout the organization when there is a crush of work. That is why I was working
on proposal art all last week.  I am happy to do it. The customers like the more informal give and
take they can get from me, since I am with them, not with the proposal office.

So to sum up, you need to be better at your job than your customers (specialization). But you need a
wide variety of skills to take on multiple types of work from many different kinds of customers

To your specific point of creating educational materials for the classroom, we are in the era of
"good enough" when it comes to customers creating and experimenting with their own teaching
materials. But if they want it to spread and be recognized at a peer-professional, they will come to
a professional to make it look good. And if you are good at the job of communication and user needs,
you will find that a teacher has their blind spots as well and will collaborate if they know you are
good at communication techniques. Specialize the quality of your skills, but generalize your
customer base with more types of products.



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