How Illustration Found Me: How I Founded LEGACY BioStudios, LLC

When I introduce myself, people often ask, “How did you end up in this line of work?”

My story is long, but I think it brings to light why I love the work I do so much and how LEGACY BioStudios, LLC came to be.

I grew up in my family’s dental clinic, and it was indeed a family business.

My mom was the dentist, and my dad was the clerk/janitor/Assata wrangler, and when I got older, I helped out however I could.
I was a rambunctious child that tore everything apart and drew on paper and everything else. I took apart toys, furniture, and at one point, part of a wall. My reasonings were, “I wanted to see what was inside!” My mom decided that I wasn’t destructive to misbehave, but because I was a naturally curious individual. Rather than punishing me, she gave me her old medical books to look at and color to feed my curiosity. I call this the beginning of my interest. I loved those books and all the stuff I learned, but I never really thought about who made the pictures. They were just there.

Selfie with Dental Anatomy Poster, Dr. Caldwell, and Me
First selfie with the 1st print of the the Dental Anatomy Poster in it’s first home, Dr. Caldwell’s Dental Office.

I grew up thinking I was going to become a dentist, like my mom. I loved biology and medicine, and I had a great appreciation for preventative healthcare, but I also enjoyed the interactions my mom had with her patients. She had a way of being not only a dentist but also a friend and an advisor. She was always trying to stay involved in our community to the point that she had a wall that people covered in flyers and handouts about events, rallies, and support systems. I called it her “wall of civil disobedience.” I wanted that. That thing that made kids grow up and come back saying my mom was the reason they were inspired to go to college or families telling me she was their hero because she helped them figure out what resources were available to them when they were out of work.

I later decided that I loved health, but I didn’t want to be a dentist.

I also had a love for conservation and natural resources. I wanted to have a positive impact on people on a larger scale.

I went to college, and for a while, I wanted to be an engineer. I liked the problem-solving aspects, but it wasn’t a good fit. I decided to go back to my roots and take some drawing classes. We drew mostly on paper, not so much on walls, but I liked how natural it felt. I didn’t feel like I was forcing myself to fit in or conform; I felt comfortable just sitting down and drawing. What happened next, I like to call the emerging of the BPMI (Biological PreMedical Illustration) Wizard.

Human Skull

I think all BPMI students have a similar story of recruitment.

A man walks into the class and walks around. He doesn’t talk to everyone, but when he does, it’s either to tell you your work has potential or should be burned (real statement). This man came to my spot and after taking my seat and looking at my drawing of boxes, told me to look into BPMI. After that, he just walked out of the room like a wise wizard. A girl sitting next to me told me to listen to the man because he knew what he was talking about, so I did, and by 3 pm that afternoon, I had officially transferred programs.

Dog Skull

Biological PreMedical Illustration is a program offered by Iowa State, and it is remarkably small. The first semester of work, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up because the courses covered everything from plants to animals to microbes and genetics, but I loved it. The classes were phenomenal, and I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was going to be a scientific and medical illustrator.

I found my career, but I needed my own “wall of civil disobedience.”

After graduating and experiencing starting a business, I finally found my wall. While my mother worked one on one, I found, with the help of Rotary, there were individuals, startups, small businesses, companies, and nonprofits that were trying to make a difference on a larger, scale and that quality communication was necessary to work with a wide reach. I wanted to assist that communication and use my expertise to make it as easy and effective as I could for everyone. I created LEGACY BioStudios, LLC, to do just that.

So, what does that mean for you?

My work stems from a need to know and understand everything fully. I am not only an artist, but I am also a researcher and scientist. This diligentness means I will do the research and take the time to understand your story thoroughly, to best advocate for you. The work you are doing is essential and valuable, shouldn’t your illustrations and animations reflect that time and hard work? That is why I call it LEGACY; that is what you are creating.

Everyone has an origin story, and I hope you enjoyed mine. If you want to learn more or tell me your own story, connect with me on LinkedIn, or email me directly.

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