With week one of my internship behind me, I’m really excited to look back over what I’ve accomplished, the new skills I’ve learned, and how I can apply them to other work. A big part of this past week, however, has been dedicated to settling in. Since I’m spending just a short amount of time in DC, I’ve had to acclimatize fairly quickly. I think that, after living in five different cities over the past two years, I’m fairly used to rapid adjustments in living situations, but I don’t think that I’ll ever get used to 16 hour bus rides. In case you are wondering what a 16 hour bus ride feels like: it feels bad. Such is life when career development is on a budget though.
I think getting across the border was the worst of it. Explaining what I do to the general population is usually difficult enough, let alone trying to explain it to a border guard who already seems hostile towards me. How do you explain what digital illustration is to someone who looks like you just spoke in a foreign language when you mention the words tablet and stylus? I always end up jumping to saying I do textbook illustrations, which seems to clear the air without actually explaining what I really do. This also usually leads people to say “why do we need that, aren’t all those things drawn already”? Forget the fact that new discoveries in science are being made every day! Frustrating interactions aside, I made it across the border and I'm thinking of preparing a handout for the next time I have to cross the border for business.
I think my first week had a bit of a slow start with paper work, finding my way, and organizational tasks taking up the majority of my time. I’m going to be working on a flea beetle project for Alex Konstantinov, a research scientist at the Systematic Entomology Laboratory in the Smithsonian. I began the week working on Camera Lucida techniques and creating initial sketches of the beetle I'm working with.
Specifically, the flea beetle I'm working on illustrating is called Alagoasa tasciatus. It is a beautiful purple, and I'll be working on adding colour to it come Monday morning. It's really neat to be part of such a large project, and more interesting to see all the other artists who have contributed to drawing these beetles over the years. One artist I was particularly excited to see was another Dundee MSc Medical Art grad, Jessica Hsiung, who like me is from Canada and went to Dundee to Study the year after me. The world of medical and scientific illustration is a fairly small one and it is exciting when chance collaborations can turn into connections.