Q & A - Lucy McCroskey
From your initial interest in working with both art and science, how did you come to found Atlas Biomedical Media LLC?
I was in an advanced drawing course (AP) my junior year of high school; I began drawing skulls from the anatomy classroom for my sketchbook assignments. My teacher, Marea Haslett, noticed this science-based interest and encouraged me to look into Medical Illustration. From then forward, I knew it was the career for me, so I pursued the Scientific Illustration bachelor ’s degree at the University of Georgia.
I honed my artistic skills within the program there, and also found I have strong interest in business. I began buying business books from local shops to learn more from some of the leaders of the business world. As the Covid-19 pandemic hit and I graduated from UGA, I decided this was the best time to pursue a Masters in Business Administration locally before pursuing my MS in Medical Illustration more distantly. I also decided to start my own business, Atlas Biomedical Media LLC, to give me portfolio space and to begin working with clients. This also gives me opportunity to learn by doing, both in illustration and in business.
Please tell us about your recently completed internship at the Center for BioMedical Visualization at St. George’s University.
The remote internship period was from August to December 2020. I had the opportunity to be mentored by and work alongside numerous professional medical illustrators. My work facilitated lecture materials for the Biology, Ecology and Conservation department at St. George’s University. For my first project, I became a teaching assistant for a 2-week intensive Pixologic ZBrush course for Scientific Illustration students at UGA.
Joshua Hatfield, Michael Pollard and I assisted inperson while Wes Price taught the classes via Zoom from Grenada. The students created 3D models of insects and mythical creatures, and explored ZBrush as a resource to be used in their illustration projects. My next project was a collaboration with fellow intern, Ashley Mastin, to create a comparative poster of the Brown and Black Rat ( Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus). I worked on other illustration and animation projects, but my favorite was to create illustrations of the Common Octopus. It was fascinating and I enjoyed researching octopi.
The illustrations showed dorsal and ventral views and another showed octopi mating. This benefitted the students as they were unable to do this anatomy lab in-person due to pandemic restrictions at SGU. The internship experience was valuable and I gained lifelong colleagues.
What advice can you share with others who may like to undertake similar opportunities and pursue a career in science illustration?
This is an amazing field where you never stop learning and growing. The best advice I can give is to ask as many questions as you can from the people who inspire you, have a different skill set than you, or has years of experience in a topic that interests you. Someone will always have more experience and talent, have completed more research, or generally have more career wisdom; use that to your advantage and learn as much as you can from others in the field.
Your Covid-19 Portrait is really striking and universally relatable during these difficult times. Did you create this during an online class?
Thank you, my goal was to create a piece that was universally relatable to mark the historical Covid-19 pandemic. When the pandemic began, I was in Gene Wright’s Advanced Figure Drawing class at UGA. The class ended up moving to an entirely online format in order to be completed.
Several project assignments were revised due to the online format of the class, including this project. For this project, we were asked to create a head and neck portrait to be a representation of our experience of wearing a protective mask. I chose to focus on my experience of human disconnect through eye contact. At the time, I was frustrated with the observable detachment of people among each other. Going to grocery stores (as the only allowed outing) and walking past other masked people
“I used this as an opportunity to project the social disengagement taking place... by focusing on the detail of the eyes...”
who were avoiding eye contact led to less engagement with others. So when given this prompt, I used it as an opportunity to project the social disengagement taking place. I used the technique of over-focusing on the detail of the eyes to create an image that forces the viewer to ‘make eye contact’ with another person wearing a mask.
Do you think online learning is a good way forward at the moment for those wanting to develop their art skills?
There is so much to learn in this field that any and all learning opportunities are valuable in my opinion. There are some artistic skills that are predominantly technical and require more refinement through practice more than instruction. Many artistic mediums that are used today are computer based, so by incorporating online learning is a natural fit.
How has the pandemic affected your art practice, if at all, and what are your plans in the near future?
The pandemic has given me the opportunity to focus more on my art. When the pandemic started, my classes at UGA shifted into an online format. I graduated May of 2020, started my MBA program in August of 2020, and my internship with the Center for BioMedical Visualization was through December 2020.
Currently, I am starting this new year continuing my MBA classes and working at Nucleus Medical Media in Kennesaw, GA. As far as the future, I plan to complete my MBA in the Spring of 2022 and go on to pursue my MS in Medical Illustration.