Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Center for Design Innovation's Idea Exchange Examine Significance of Illustrations

Sometimes centuries old artforms such as drawings can be timeless when combined with new technologies. Actually, it’s happening quite often in today’s fast emerging creative business and technology scene.

Last night three illustrators presented passionate and convincing cases for the importance of imagery at the Center for Design Innovation’s Ideal Exchange discussion on how mind, eye, hand and computer techniques combine to produce powerful illustrations. The artists produce computer-assisted drawings to communicate volumes about the complexities of life, the human body, technology functions and more.

Why do we still need illustration compared to photography? The artists took separate approaches to demonstrate the differences through power point slides, drawings and personal stories. The presenters were: Jennifer Gentry, Jennifer McCormick and Kyle Webster.

Gentry, is a certified medical illustrator and founder of Gentry Visualization (, a studio specializing in the visual communication of medical, scientific, and technical concepts. Her complex anatomy illustrations are featured in medical journals textbooks and posters. She is also a lecturer at Wake Forest University.

McCormick, ( also a medical illustrator, is owner and founder of Art for Law & Medicine, a company that produces custom medical illustrations of injuries for complex litigation. Her CSI-like artworks peer inside the human body similar to MRIs, CAT scans and x-rays exposing the dramatic stories and critical information about injuries and how they may have occurred.

Webster, owner of Kyle T. Webster (, has produced editorial illustrations that have graced the New Yorker, The Washington Post, USA Today, ESPN Magazine, Time Magazine, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Atlantic, Entertainment Weekly, The Wall Street Journal and many other major publications in the United States.

While each artist has a different specialty, all agree that illustrations are very effective in communicating complex opinions, issues and functions in a concise and impactful way. This is quite helpful for many people who are too busy to read abstracts and book chapters.

Whether appearing in a magazine, textbook or courtroom exhibit, their works clearly demonstrate that in this time of hi-definition computer animation, there is still room for old fashioned drawings enhanced by technology to effectively communicate emotions, business models, concepts or opinions in one glance. Such illustrations are useful for an array of applications from smartphone apps to ads that present business services similar to the well-known UPS ads featuring an artist producing fast-pace drawings to explain how its business services are successful.

As technology continues to advance, it appears that illustrations will still be in demand, enhancing the communications for the need, use, findings and implications of new technology.

Earlier this year CDI officials announced acquisition of land to construct a 30,000 square foot building in the South District of the Piedmont Triad Research Park. The facility will serve as the permanent home for the CDI and its dedication to discovering, inventing and developing new knowledge.

The CDI was established in 2005 as a multi-campus research center of the UNC system with an Advisory Board appointed by the Office of the President of UNC. Its mission is to create an environment that supports creative thinking as a means of fostering the growth of education, research and commercial enterprise.

The CDI began initial operations in 2007 at an interim site in Winston Tower and represents an inter-institutional partnership between Winston-Salem State University, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Forsyth Technical Community College. On a project basis, collaborations also include a range of individuals and organizations involved in supporting the Center’s interdisciplinary agenda.

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