Joanna Culley BA (Hons), MMAA, MIP, MIMI

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Medical Artist Joanna Culley

Medical Artist

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 by working closely with clients the aim is to make sure sure the narrative is accurate and concise.

Once this has been agreed the final or colour versions are completed. 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.


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 now also a member of  the Institute of Medical Illustrators, the Association of Medical Illustrators and The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.

Joanna is also a member of the Academy of Healthcare Sciences.

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.