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  • Jessica M. Koren

Medical Illustration: The rare link between art & science that you didn't know you need

Hi, I'm Jessica and I’m a professional Medical Illustrator. Chances are that you haven't heard of this profession of mine, but it’s time you do. I find that sometimes companies weren't aware that they needed a medical illustrator until they meet me and hear what I do. Perhaps this little Q&A can illuminate the topic.

So what do I do?

Simply put - I make pictures that explain ideas, because a picture is worth a thousand words.

More specifically, I create detailed illustrations and visual representations for researchers or companies that are working with new medical technologies or techniques. My main clients include BioTech companies working on new medical devices or implants, surgeons working on new surgical procedures, and universities publishing research papers. A typical project involves illustrating human anatomy alongside a medical device in a way that communicates how the device works. My work has a broad spectrum of purposes and therefor audiences: Investor presentations, academic publications, surgical guides, Instructions For Use (IFU), public education, advertising and much more.

What is my process?

Every project begins with a significant research phase. This is actually my favorite part of job. Each client brings some new technology, or introduces me to some part of the human anatomy that I have not dealt with before, and so I have to educate myself about it using whatever resources I can find.

The creative process then begins with some sketches. I ask myself various questions: Who is the audience? What level of detail is appropriate for that audience? How can I best communicate this idea to them? How can I fit the necessary information into an image? What angle or perspective best represents this device or anatomical structure? Which illustration style best serves this project - pencils, watercolor, digital paint?

After a series of sketches and back-and-forth with the client, I usually get my projects up to about 85% completion. I’ll also try to find some additional critique from an “outsider,” to get a layman’s reaction (my husband is actually great at this). I Then refine and tweak until I’m satisfied with the outcome and it is ready to deliver it to the client.

My research phase for this project involved observing the surgery itself as well as familiarizing myself with the anatomy through drawing from a pelvic model and referring to trusted reference books.

Phases of completion from Sketch to vector to digitally painted

What are my guidelines?

In any project, my “prime directive” is to stay true to the anatomy and the technology. Does my illustration tell the truth? Is it misleading in any way? Will it be understood in the way that my client needs it to be understood?

My secondary objective is to feel proud of the aesthetic appearance of my creation. I feel that adding my signature to the finished product is a declaration of my confidence in its quality. I only deliver work on which I can proudly place my signature.

What makes me a great choice for completing your medical illustration project?

I’m a real professional with extensive creative background. I am dedicated to my craft, I have high ethical standards, and I am meticulous when it comes to anatomy. I studied at a rigorous masters program at Hogeschool Zuyd in the Netherlands, where I've earned a Masters degree in Scientific Illustration. Even though my finished pieces are highly technical in appearance, Art is the foundation of my work. As a result, there is always an element of aesthetic beauty underpinning my work.

How do you start working with me?

Just send me an email to I'm happy to discuss with you the needs of your project and put together an estimate after understanding its scope. I'm available for calls and meetings and of course will be happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Sketch Versus Finished Version

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