Joanna Culley (Butler) Ba(Hons), MMAA, MIMI, MIP

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Medical Artist Joanna Culley (Butler)

Joanna is the co-owner and lead artist for Medical Artist Ltd, and its her work you see in all of the galleries in this website. Joanna’s popularity has meant her company has expanded employing a team of medical artists and animators to meet customer demands. The aim is to produce high end medical and scientific illustrations and continue to service the medical and health communities with visual education materials.

Joanna’s Artistic Style

Joanna’s artistic style has been described as classical and comes from her background training in art in the traditional mediums. Joanna’s mediums of choice are watercolour, graphite pencil plus colour pencils and pen and ink. Joanna also works in the digital medium of Adobe Photoshop but applies the same traditional painting techniques and highly detailed style but using an airbrush tool.

Joanna is also best known for her realism style medical illustrations and being able to create a balance between illustrating the intricate detail of anatomy whilst also conveying in the image, an educational message, in an easy to understand format to suit all audiences.

Joanna’s portfolio now bursts with many anatomical drawings and illustrations covering most areas of the human body. The subject matter is always anatomy and science and the realistic paintings and creations depict what the camera can not see. And all with the same single grounding fact, that of medical accuracy, detail, beauty and balance.

The Medical Illustration Style and Approach

Everything begins with sketches, there are no limits to how many ways a client’s project can be approached, but it is always key to find the right path before the final stages can begin. Once the brief has been received various viewpoints and compositional elements are sketched and with Joanna working closely with clients, the aim is to make sure sure the narrative is accurate and concise.

Once the drawings or storyboards have been agreed, the final or colour versions are completed using the sketches as the base. This means all custom illustrations start out as original sketches and drawings with Joanna constantly referring to various anatomical models, books, videos, to always be able to study, contemplate, interpret the anatomical form.

Combine this with Joanna’s enthusiasm for anatomy and her constant fascination with the scientific environment means the work is a passion, not a job. Obsessively drawing every day to meet demand, Joanna’s ambition is to supply customers with industry award winning artwork. See some of her award winning artwork here.


Joanna’s Art and Anatomy Education and Training, UK

Joanna’s art training started with graduating with a B.T.E.C in Natural History Illustration from Bournemouth & Poole College in 1992 and then a degree from Middlesex University, London in Visual Communication specialising in medical and scientific illustration in 1995.

In order to continue with art and anatomy education Joanna completed higher education studying with the Medical Artists’ Education Trust (MAET) This post graduate level of study included medical art and human anatomy training and Joanna qualified in 2009. After qualifying meant Joanna was accepted as a member of The Medical Artists’ Association of GB or (MAA).

Joanna is also a member of  the Institute of Medical Illustrators,  Association of Medical Illustrators  / The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators   / Academy of Healthcare Sciences.

The Academy of Healthcare Sciences, UK

A fairly recent and important change occurred in Great Britain in March 2017 which has meant that medical illustration (clinical photography, videography and medical art/design) has become a profession regulated by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) under UK regulations.

This follows an announcement by The Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) and the Committee for the Accreditation of Medical Illustration Practitioners (CAMIP) that endorsement has been received from the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) to extend the AHCS Accredited Register to include Medical Illustrators.

This is a very positive outcome as both patients and customers that we serve who can be assured of continued professional development, monitoring, auditing, and the very highest standards of training and professionalism regarding the supply of medical visuals.

Medical Art Ph.D. Surrey University

To continue higher education Joanna started a Ph.D. in October 2017 at Surrey University and will be using her skills as a medical artist skills to research neglected tropical diseases (tropical ulcers) such as the Buruli ulcer, Yaws disease, cutaneous tuberculosis and Leishmaniasis. These are diseases that currently are poorly documented, therefore, as part of the research Joanna will be producing various scientific and medical illustrations of the ulcers.

It is intended that the illustrations of the Buruli ulcer especially, will be used as patient education tools by the care workers in the clinics in Ghana, to help them better diagnose the ulcers. Currently the health workers only have access to grainy and poor quality photos of the ulcers and consequently they can get misdiagnosed. The scientific approach to drawing each of the ulcers will be to ensure that each ulcer has its key features defined and that the visuals become part of an improved set of diagnostic tools. The expected date to complete the Ph.D. will be 6 years as its being completed part time so that Joanna can still run her medical illustration business.

Joanna Talks at the World Health Organisation

As part of Joanna’s PhD process Joanna submitted an abstract to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in advance of their bi-annual conference on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). The abstract was accepted and Joanna gave her presentation March 2019, Geneva.

The presentation gave an overview of the goal of providing medical illustrations as visual tools to aid detection of Neglected Tropical Diseases, like Buruli ulcer. Currently countries such as Ghana, where the NTDs occur, suffer due to underfunding and lack of facilities and as such NTDs can go undetected or mis-diagnosed. It is the aim that additional visual tools will help guide care workers in Ghana and give clear pointers to key features and help them identify between the NTDs.

Joanna is now one year into her PhD and the adjacent video is a short set of highlights from her WHO visit to the gathered experts on NTDs from across the world. The result of which was very positive and further work will continue researching and creating specific illustrations of these diseases.