Med Monthly Welcomes Laura Maaske as a Staff Illustrator, Writer and Journalist

Written by on August 30, 2013 in Research & Technology - No comments

This month Med Monthly welcomes Laura Maaske on board as a staff illustrator, writer and journalist. She will be supplying an article or illustration each month dealing with ground breaking health care advances and state-of-the-art medical images. She has been a regular contributor, with several articles during the past year featured in our Research & Technology section.

With a Master’s of Science degree in Biomedical Visualization from the University of Toronto, she is bound to amaze you with wildly colorful, graphically outrageous images and an interesting insight into her world.  Simply combine anatomy, physiology, pathology, embryology, histology, with design, airbrush, carbon dust, pen and ink and there you’ll have it; the beauty and wonder found in the human body as seen and expressed by a master illustrator.  Collaborating with scientists, physicians, and other specialists, medical illustrators serve as visual translators of complex technical information to support education, medical and bio-scientific research, patient care and education, public relations and marketing objectives.

Laura did her masters research on interactivity in computer design and experimenting with the small world being offered by a computer interface.  Laura explains, “It was like science itself, in a nutshell. I wanted to be creating small worlds where you were able to learn how things worked.”

If you review Laura’s website, you’ll notice she states that all of her work is done by hand.  Once again, having been trained in traditional art, she always begins with a hand-sketch.  “Bringing the work (sketch) to the computer is a useful step in the process, but I do this only when I feel I have captured the essential movements and curves on paper that are to be the underlying focus in the final piece.” Every project that Laura creates is custom done.  In the inception of each one she questions, “What does this individual piece have to say to its audience?” Only then can she truly begin to develop the perfect concept for her final piece.

What is the most difficult question to ask such a complex artist?  What project are you the most proud of and why?  Laura replies, “As an artist, I am in search of a balance between the chaos and rich excess of information being offered in the surgical scene and simple educational objectives about that particular procedure. There is a particular series of surgical illustrations which gave me insight about this balance. It had been a goal of mine to render the surgical scene in a way as if the surgeon were operating in a clean field.  It was my job to clear away what a photograph could not.  But it occurred to me as I was beginning to draw the series that perhaps I was avoiding something beautiful about the nature of surgery, to avoid the dissolution. During a surgical procedure, the tissues become a little swollen, and there is some bleeding, and this is all understood as a way of adapting the body for a healthier state of being when the surgical procedure is done. But it seems like a contradiction: destruction first before healing. We open the body, aware of this small loss, in favor of a greater gain. So I decided to render this dissolution in my surgical series. The results worked in a way that seemed very natural to me, compared to what my cleaner renderings had been as in previous work.  This lesson made this project very special.”

Laura shares a whimsical illustration of her creative process in the making of a medical illustration.


We welcome Laura and her creative touch to our evolving group of talented professionals here at Med Monthly magazine.


Following is a list of some of Laura’s published work:

Feature Article. Maaske, L. 1999. “A Study of Interactivity in Educational Patient Hypermedia”. Journal of Biocommunication. V(3); 2-11.

Feature Illustration. Papsin, B., Maaske, L., McGrail, S., 1996 “Repair of orbicularis oris rupture”. Laryngoscope. V(6);757-60.

Cover Illustration. Chan, A., Ross, J., 1996. “The management of unstable coronary syndrome in patients with previous coronary artery bypass grafts”. University of Toronto Medical Journal. 73(3);132-8.

Feature Illustration. Chung, H.T., Gordon, Y.K. Ng, and George, S.R.,1996. “Biochemical characteristics D2 receptor monomers and dimers expressed in Sf9 cells”. University of Toronto Medical Journal. 73(2);86-93.

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