“They take the same introductory courses as the biology students.”
Clark explained the science background is needed when a student has to demonstrate, for example, how a muscle or nerve works.
“The drawing cannot just be artistically pleasing. The illustrator has to show the form and function relationship,” Clark said.
In a world filled with high-tech photography and video capabilities, Clark is sometimes asked why biological and medical illustrations are still needed. It’s interpretation, she said.
“Even with all the digital images, you must have interpretation. You must show the most important features and the relationships involved among those features.”
When a new plant species is discovered, she said an illustration can more clearly show the differences in the new species. Illustrations also are needed to show hidden processes, such as a microbial activity within the soil.
“Students must synthesize a lot of data and determine how best to show it visually,” Clark said.
Only a small community of students can draw and be anatomically and scientifically accurate. An art student once told Mock that her work does not need to be perfect.
“Oh, yes it does,” Mock replied, adding, “We’re all pretty much perfectionists.”