Darwin wouldn’t draw. Seriously.

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He said so himself. And he regretted it.

Exhibit A, from The Autobiography of Charles Darwin:

“[Not being urged to practice dissection] has been an irremediable evil, as well as my incapacity to draw.”

It was actually Darwin’s shipmate on the HMS Beagle, Conrad Martens, who made the sketches best known from that expedition. And, it wasn’t until well after Darwin’s famous voyage to the Galapagos that a publisher sent an artist back to that region with the express responsibility to illustrate Darwin’s observations.

Most publications from Darwin’s era were similarly professionally illustrated, with many of the illustrations based on specimens he collected. However, these illustrations were not Darwin’s own work.

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“Tree of life” sketches (Charles Darwin, in the public domain)

Mind you, Darwin did occasionally sketch, as can be seen in his diagrams of “trees” roughly indicating how organisms were related.  And, there are a handful of rough sketches of plant cross sections and geologic formations scattered through his myriad notebooks. But, these few sketches pale alongside the copious volumes of written notes and manuscripts he made.

Darwin maintained he couldn’t draw.

So he didn’t ever do it.[1] Continue reading Darwin wouldn’t draw. Seriously.

Commissioning SciArt Illustrations? Know what you want and what you can spend. (Using Images-A Best Practices Primer, Part 6)

This article is the sixth in a series aimed at helping you enhance your #scicommand #sciart by avoiding #visualplagiarism. It will do so by laying out some best practices for dealing with images (which are, by their nature) visual intellectual property protected by copyrights.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer, and no part of this article or series should be construed as legal advice. 

Please chime in, in the comments or by contacting me, if you have suggestions for how to enhance this article or the series.

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Knowing what you want can make commissioning illustrations way more efficient and enjoyable. This entails planning ahead, being decisive, making lots of choices, and balancing budget vs. other constraints. (Lepidoptera sketches from Saskatchewan, Canada; ©2017)

PLAN AHEAD, SO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT AND WHAT YOU CAN SPEND.

In the last article, we discussed contract considerations, which are the core of any commissioned illustration project.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some other important elements of planning an illustration project. To increase efficiency (which usually helps with budgeting), do what you can to know what you want and how much you can spend before you approach an illustrator and ask if they are interested in working with you. Continue reading Commissioning SciArt Illustrations? Know what you want and what you can spend. (Using Images-A Best Practices Primer, Part 6)

SciArt illustration contracts for your science communication project (Using Images-A Best Practices Primer, Part 5)

This article is the fifth in a series aimed at helping you enhance your #scicommand #sciart by avoiding #visualplagiarism. It will do so by laying out some best practices for dealing with images (which are, by their nature) visual intellectual property protected by copyrights.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer, and no part of this article or series should be construed as legal advice. 

Please chime in, in the comments or by contacting me, if you have suggestions for how to enhance this article or the series.

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Hiring an illustrator doesn’t have to feel like wizardry. A well-written contract can simplify and enhance the experience. (Student assessing stream water quality, ©2017)

FAIR-TO-GENEROUS ILLUSTRATION CONTRACTS

In addition to the 4Cs of commissioning SciArt, there are four major considerations you will need to take into account when you work with an illustrator.

They are: contracts, what you want, your time frame, and what you can spend. This article breaks down the first of those, contracts. Continue reading SciArt illustration contracts for your science communication project (Using Images-A Best Practices Primer, Part 5)

Getting the most out of working with an illustrator for your science communication project (Using Images-A Best Practices Primer, Part 4)

This article is the fourth in a series aimed at helping you enhance your #scicommand #sciart by avoiding #visualplagiarism. It will do so by laying out some best practices for dealing with images (which are, by their nature) visual intellectual property protected by copyrights.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer, and no part of this article or series should be construed as legal advice. 

Please chime in, in the comments or by contacting me, if you have suggestions for how to enhance this article or the series.

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Custom illustrations can make your science communication more compelling. And they don’t have to be hard to get or break your budget. (Child drawing a bison, ©2017)

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF WORKING WITH AN ILLUSTRATOR

As discussed in the first article, humans are visual animals. As a result, your image choices are fundamental to communicating the significance of your research and the information you want your students to understand. Images are often key to engaging people, let alone convincing an audience to support science research or policy making based on scientific evidence. And, image choice is critical for people relating to scientists as people, and picturing themselves as having a stake in science, or becoming a scientist themselves.

Also note: Much of what this article addresses – the basics of working with an illustrator – is also relevant to working with other professional image creators (e.g. photographers, graphic designers, animators, etc.). Continue reading Getting the most out of working with an illustrator for your science communication project (Using Images-A Best Practices Primer, Part 4)

Finding the Creator…and Asking for Permission (Using Images-A Best Practices Primer, Part 3)

This article is the third in a series aimed at helping you enhance your #scicomm and #sciart by avoiding #visualplagiarism. It will do so by laying out some best practices for dealing with images (which are, by their nature) visual intellectual property protected by copyrights.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer, and no part of this article or series should be construed as legal advice. 

Please chime in, in the comments or by contacting me, if you have suggestions for how to enhance this article or the series.


FINDING THE IMAGE CREATOR AND ASKING FOR REPRODUCTION PERMISSION

In the first article in this series, we looked at essential definitions at play when using images and a lot of image use tips. In the second article, we looked at public domain, creative commons, and other free image sources.

In this article, we’ll focus on tips for finding the creator of an image you want to use and asking for permission to reproduce it.

1. Perhaps the most important tip to keep in mind for this article comes from Stephen B. Heard (of the SciComm blog Scientist Sees Squirrel): “An image may be widely reproduced so you can’t tell what’s the original use; or the creator may have a defunct email address, or have a cryptic username with no contact info.  I frequently fail to find the creator.  In that case, it’s simple – can’t find the creator, so can’t ask; so move on to a different image!” Continue reading Finding the Creator…and Asking for Permission (Using Images-A Best Practices Primer, Part 3)