The foundations of aesthetics are vital, knowing how to draw very well, crucial, my experience is the path taken does not seem to be as important as the end product/portfolio.   I know many who came to scientific illustration through the so called “back door” they do not have degrees in Scientific Illustration and often not even a formal class.  I am, in fact, of this ilk.  I did do an internship/apprenticeship without pay, I read books, talked to professionals and studied scientific artwork with a keen visual eye.  I still do these things, I am always learning.   I attribute a great deal of my knowledge of scientific illustration to the GNSI(workshops held during conferences) and my internship with George Venable at the Smithsonian some years ago.  I try to share everything I have learned, I see this as a way to keep knowledge alive and progressing in our field.  

In the words of another infamous talent,

“Poor is the student who does not surpass his master”.
-Leanardo da Vinci


J Marie Metz
Scientific Illustrator

United States Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
Plant Sciences Institute, Systematic Entomology Laboratory

National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution CE-423
10th and Constitution Ave. NW  MRC 168
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012

Email: [log in to unmask]
Phone: (202) 382-1804
Fax: (202) 786-9422
Systematic Entomology

On 8/6/08 9:17 PM, "Gina Mikel" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


Barry MacKay posted the other day about the passing of James Fenwick Lansdowne.  I don't know Lansdowne's educational background but it sounds like he was primarily self-taught and taught by his mother.  He's one example of an artist whose portfolio speaks for him, regardless of his educational background.

I can't remember the last time a client has asked me about my educational background.  It's listed on my website, so it may be that they already know (I have a BFA).  My suspicion is that they skim, at best, any biographical information and are mostly looking at whether I have a piece that closely matches whatever piece they're looking to buy or commission.  

It's easier, though, to develop strong pieces if you're working on them in a setting where you're getting feedback from people with a good eye and good instructional ability *if* it's not too difficult to juggle with family responsibilities.  I'm just now beginning to have time to do more non-commissioned work again, now that my kids are in high school.  When my kids were younger, if I did a piece, it was in those slices of unscheduled free time (versus scheduling that kind of time by taking a class).  


----- Original Message -----
From:  CLINT MOUDY <mailto:[log in to unmask]>  
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2008 10:15  AM
Subject: [SCIART]

Any words of wisdom from some seasoned illustrators?  How  much does educational background weigh as compared to ability when it comes to  getting some work?
Thanks for the input,
Clint Moudy