922. A Day in the Life: What’s It Really Like to Be a Medical Legal Illustrator?
“Well, you can’t just have a degree in art. You have to have half art and half science. And that’s difficult because a lot of artists, you know, we don’t like math. We don’t like science. We don’t like the technical aspect of things. And a lot of scientists have problems with visual communication. So we’re kind of a rare breed. You can’t be just a good artist. You have to be good at science, too. You have to be good at both!”
Elizabeth Shick is originally from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, but has lived in Atlanta, Georgia since 1988. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Georgia with a degree in Scientific Illustration, then went on to study Medical Illustration at the Medical College of Georgia. She was the senior medical illustrator at MLI before opening her own company, Medical Visions, Inc., in 1991. She is one of the top medical legal illustrators in the country with extensive experience, personally producing over 15,000 exhibits. Elizabeth’s motto is “Do what you love & delegate everything else.” She also creates original Sci-Fi paintings.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“I had been working as a medical illustrator in my first job at a company called MLI: Medical Legal Illustration, recreating illustrations of injuries usually from car accidents or so called slip and fall accidents so that a jury can understand what physically happened to people in those accidents. Because of my educational background and long-standing passion for the work, I was thriving. After three years we had a big shake up in the company that led to a contract dispute. I decided that it was time to go out on my own at the age of 28 and have been running Medical Visions Inc. for over 30 years creating over 15,000 custom medical legal illustrations for clients across the country.”
The Most Powerful Lessons and Experiences?
1. “My mother was the art teacher at a very small private school in Palm Beach, Florida. My dad was an aeronautical engineer for Pratt and Whitney designing jet engines. One of my sisters is a nurse and the other one is a hospital pharmacist. Most of my aunts and uncles are all into the medical field.”
2. “Art is a talent you’re born with. And then if you become obsessed with it, you do it all the time, doodling, drawing all the time.”
3. “After graduating from the Medical College of Georgia, I went to work
for a company called MLI–one of the first companies to do medical legal illustration. We visually recreated injuries so that a jury could understand what happened to people that were in car accidents. So when the doctors were testifying on the stand they used our artwork to illustrate the injuries and surgeries that happened in those accidents.”
4. “I have to translate complicated medical facts into illustrations that are at an eighth grade level of understanding for your typical jury. My illustrations have to show the reality of the injuries and surgeries in graphic detail while still being educational charts. It’s fascinating and I love doing it. And I have a lot of variety because I specialize in injuries, which means that I could have an eye injury one day and an ankle injury the next day.”
5. “A lot of entrepreneurs try and do every aspect of the business and they lose sight of what they’re good at and the business suffers. You need to hire experts: you need to hire a bookkeeper, a marketing person, and other competent people to do everything else. And you stick to what you are good at.”
Connecting With Elizabeth Shick
Websites: www.medicalvisions.com and www.elizabethshickart.com
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Careers: Artist, Business Owner, Entrepreneur, Medical Legal Illustrator