10:45 – 11 am

Category: Business

Leveraging the Medical Illustrator’s Skillset to Develop Novel Solutions in Different Fields

When boiling down the roles of a successful medical illustrator, that of translator rises near the top. Being adept at rapidly understanding information from one discipline and applying it to another is what we do (listen to medical content experts, translate their content into visuals in a way that facilitates understanding). Medical illustrators can be surprisingly good translators for a variety of disciplines. By working in a variety of scientific fields, I have found that this general skillset as a translator is useful in many areas. Some of my work has transitioned into the usage of imagery as a proxy for various datasets, simplifying the use of geospatial information systems (GIS) and cloud based agricultural software to effect change in how we grow our food and save the planet! This talk will explore how the paradigm of medical illustrator as science communicator can be expanded to medical illustrator as translator, collaborator, principal investigator and more.

Session Takeaways:

  1. Discover what a “Medical Illustrator” brings to any team of designers, scientists, software developers, & engineers.
  2. Understand how visualizations can be data, all measurement is relative, and the value of proxies in complex systems.
  3. Increase employment opportunities across a wide array of businesses by marketing more than your rendering skills as an artist and your scientific/medical knowledge.




David Killpack

Owner, Illumination Studios

David Killpack is an artist, author, educator, inventor, and entrepreneur. He received his BA in biological/premedical illustration at Iowa State University and later founded Illumination Studios; a company specializing in enlightening visualization for scientific communication.

David’s work has appeared in a variety of media including books, periodicals, websites, software, and exhibit graphics and has been recognized by the National Science Foundation, Association of Medical Illustrators and the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators among others.

Growing up on a farm in southwest Iowa at the intersection of nature and technology, his unbridled curiosity for seemingly incongruous subjects has been the theme of his life. Much of his work over the last two decades involves 3D modeling and animation of veterinary subjects such as award-winning visualizations of equine anatomy and parasite life cycles. As a continuation of the blend of technology and nature, he co-founded Acumen Agronomics, a company focused on data visualization and implementation for agriculture. He continues to develop new methods for visual communication across the life sciences.


11:00 – 11:30 am

Category: Business

The Secret to Creative Success: Learning to Critique

What’s working? What’s not? How can it be improved? They may seem like easy questions, but as someone who has evaluated the portfolios of hundreds of medical illustrators and participated in the critique of thousands of creative science pieces (animations, illustrations, manuscripts, digital interactive, physical interactive, scientific installations, etc.), I can tell you that this is not a skill that comes easily to most people. And that’s because it’s hard. If your goal is to succeed as a medical illustrator or artist – whether individually or on a team – development and mastery of your own effective critiquing style is key. This presentation will provide a breakdown of a few expert-level critiquing skills, covering multiple media types.

Session Takeaways:

  1. Understand the fundamentals of helpful feedback
  2. Model examples of effective vs ineffective feedback
  3. Learn at least one new approach that can immediately be brought into the studio​


Brandon Pletsch

Managing Director, Creative Scientific Communications, Real Chemistry

Beginning his fiery career as the award-winningest student in AMI history, Brandon Pletsch, MS (Augusta) quickly learned to navigate the cold harsh realities of the professional world through a series of humbling failures and ultimately realized that collaboration with people smarter and more talented than himself was the key to success. Brandon, along with Michelle Peterson, MS (Augusta) founded Radius Digital Science, and is currently a Managing Director at Real Chemistry.