Illustration for Bulletin Magazine
Illustration for Bulletin, representing Covid-19 data collected from speech and language therapy patients
Creating this illustration for Bulletin was both fun and and interesting challenge. First, I needed to wrap my head around the key points of the article before finding a way to represent them visually, in a way that adds to the text rather than duplicating it. As a professional trade publication, Bulletin uses academic language and assumes knowledge on the part of the reader, which is fantastic for their target demographic but confusing for a lay person such as myself. After re-reading the text several times and getting an understanding of academic journals in general, it became clear to me both the nature of the research, and how important it was to the field of speech and language therapy and wider implications for the study of Coronavirus. I also spent time to research an overview of what speech and language therapy entails, and the conditions and operations described in the article.
Reading and sketching out initial ideas, I felt the important messages to convey were ones of hope and important research, as well as generally adding life to the page.
The second challenge was to create a composition that would work over the fold of the magazine, as well as separated into individual pages for the digital PDF. I sketched three options to send to the client for approval. Although it takes extra time, I like to create roughs that are essentially line drawings of the final artwork – this ensures the client knows what the end product will look like, and allows me to work out any issues that I don't spot in the initial phase. I reused certain elements across compositions in this case if I felt they were strong and needed to be included in each idea, rather than as a shortcut. For example, it does not make sense to redesign the characters multiple times when care and effort has gone into making sure they fit the piece. The client requested female therapists in smart-casual clothing.
The first idea is centred around the patient, describing their experiences for therapists to make notes. The speech bubbles representing the coronavirus add a conceptual element.
The second option explores pushing through the experiences of Covid-19 to develop data and research. I like the message of hope this one has, and the active/dynamic role of the therapist. As well as including images relating to Covid-19 that we immediately recognise such as face masks, hand washing, and the virus itself, I added elements specific to speech and language therapy that readers would recognise, like dysphagia.
The third option focuses on treatment of individual patients, a reassuring image of problem-solving treatments and focusing on the results.
The client chose option 2, and I agree that it's the strongest concept of the three. They were happy to move on to the final artwork without amends.
The final challenge – colour! After experimenting with various options, I used the colour of the background page in varying shades to blend the illustration with the article, and used bright rainbow colours to express hope and enlightenment as experts study the information collected. The rainbow has also become a symbol for the work of healthcare professionals throughout the pandemic, so it seemed fitting.
Scientific and academic illustrations are still fairly new to me, and it's opened up a world of potential ideas for new artwork. Illustration works well with these kinds of texts, providing insight or narrative to factual ideas. I'm looking forward to using these skills again in another project.