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Brad Loetel <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 31 Oct 1998 22:51:26 -0600
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>my understanding is that the program at U. of Ill. at Chicago is entirely
>digital; that no hand methods like drawing or painting, carbon dust,
>scratchboard are taught.

Yes they, UIC-BVIS, are entirely digital. When I say totally digital I mean
final renderings are done on the computer with extremely tight pencil comps
that are scanned. I'm a graduate of the first class (97) that was totally

My conjecture about why UIC started to change.

I think the premise for going totally digital was that they, the
administration, believed that the students coming into the Graduate level
program should have an extensive art background with exposure and
proficiency in all traditional illustration media, not all students had
this experience. I do not think this was to much to ask since entering
students also had to have a very stong biology background as well.

I was lucky enough to have gone to Iowa State (89-94) to receive my
bachelors in Biological Illustration (I emphasized the Pre-Med track) where
Dean taught us the traditional media. I was one of only a handful of
students at the time that used the computer for illustration.

Although when I was at ISU, I did feel that there was not enough Fine Art
emphasis. I did hear from Dean this has started to change.

The BVIS administration at the time they started the change was under
pressure to address how they were going to fit into a new School of
Associated Health Professions with a very high technology thrust (there is
a whole lot more here but I'll save you the gory details). Also, the
technology for digital art had advanced enough that I think our
illustration professor, John Daugherty, and the administration felt
comfortable enough teaching totally digital.

They have received a lot of flack for doing this but I would say they made
correct move with only one exception, they should at least teach some
traditional media but geared towards the Fine Arts. To not teach digital
techniques would be a shame because it would not prepare the students for
the future. One thing to keep in mind is that after UIC went digital all of
the graduate programs in medical illustration soon followed with at least
one class in digital illustration.

The students have not always been warm to the whole digital curriculum but
a lot of it seemed to be reactionary to the way we felt we were being
treated by parts of the administration especially since we had an all
digital curriculum but worthless equipment. Things have become much better
but the students are also now required to buy a computer.

>Gerry Hodge told me the students begged him to
>come teach a workshop because they were starved to learn how to draw other
>than on a computer, but he couldn't go without an invitation from the

I do not know about the Gerry Hodge thing but I know of one person that
might have asked him to come and teach at UIC but the gist of the plea may
have been centered around a desire to be taught by a Master of the Craft in
addition to leaning a traditional technique.

I think the digital/traditional is an interesting topic that often times
gets argued in the wrong light of one vs. the other but how does on the
compliment the other.


Brad Loetel

The Field Museum, Chicago

312.922.9410 x734