Maya's blog.

Peek inside the life of a medical animator and illustrator.

Logo Redesign

I'm in the process of updating my website. Along the way, I've questioned some branding elements, and of course, the logo has come up. Clint suggested a redesign and I'm not sure, but I think I am leaning towards a new one.

I'd like to share the process, and get your feedback along the way! My options are keeping the old logo, designing something new myself, or hiring an outside designer if it turns out I'm too close to the problem - in any case, I'll have made a decision by the end of this series of posts. Thanks for following and thanks in advance for your comments! I figured it would be cool to see inside the logo creation process, and some of you will have great ideas I hadn't thought of.


Here's the current logo in its two versions:

I made this logo in 2010.

The two rectangles were meant to represent either Maya and Clint coming together to create a company, or art and science overlapping in medical illustration. These meanings are obviously not seen by the viewer without my commentary, so I think they are only serving as a design element. The green color was chosen because I wanted a light, fresh feel and it matched a previous website. I still like green, but again, it doesn't need to be kept. The typeface was intended to be professional looking, and it is, but looking back it's also reminiscent of hand-lettering on old anatomical drawings. I might want something a little more bold, modern, and clean for the font. (I do work that's shiny and often high-tech, and even though I build on what my predecessors in medical illustration have taught me, I don't really want an "old-school look" - or pen and ink anatomy - or Leonardo DaVinci references in my logo.)

Thank you for joining me in this project! Thoughts on the new logo to come in the next post.


Hello, Readers!

Hi everyone. Ok, so it's been a while. I've been here, just not posting. And by here, I mean, all over the country again. If you follow me on facebook, you are probably in the know, but here are some updates:

We have had a child. He just turned two and he's awesome, although we haven't gotten to sleep through the night yet. Parenting equals pure joy and complete sleep depravation, battling one another for your sanity. Pretty good though! 

We moved ourselves and our medical illustration business to Michigan last year, to be near our families. Miss Texas, but happy to be with our people.

Clint is no longer animating for me. He was recruited to help in another business, but he still helps me with office management and accounting stuff from time to time. I'm enjoying the animation side of things.

Probably some other major life stuff I'm not thinking of right now. 

Work is good - I'm loving my clients which is something to be grateful for! I'm updating my website, blog (see? right now?) and branding, and that leads me to my next post, about the Shoemaker Medical logo. See you there!

Day in a tree... coming soon!

Many of you saw the fundraising portion of my project "Day in a tree" last month, in which I raised over $1000 for homeless youth. I have yet to fulfill my pledge and spend my workday in a tree. I'm scheduling it for next week, I believe. This weekend looks sunny, but I did promise a workday!

Check out my project page here, and check back next week to watch my "day" which will be streaming live like those webcams of birds in nests! (My fave are the Decorah eagles.)

You can call me to chat or conduct business while I'm tree-bound. If you have any other ideas about the work you'd like to see me doing, let me know! I'll be taking suggestions ;)

Social Week

Social Week at Shoemaker Medical is November 14-18, 2011 Help Shoemaker Medical celebrate our first anniversary! We were officially launched Nov. 8, 2010 and I can't believe a year could go by so quickly.

We'll be giving away anatomy t-shirts, illustrations, and original art on this blog, facebook and twitter all week long.

Contest #1 Congrats Erin Harmon, t-shirt winner!

Contest #2 Congrats to Theresa Chursh!  $500 medical illustration credit

Contest #3

Contest #4 Congrats Jared Johnson on winning my painting "Spinal Sunset" valued at $800. Congrats Carla on winning some small bonus art for asking art questions during the live paint!


I always try to share the more uplifting elements of my life and business - however, I am going to let you in on my challenges today. I just finished checking and answering emails (and that's ALL I've done), and it's already noon! What the? Usually I am past this by 9 or 10, and usually I have a better attitude about the time I spent. I generally enjoy checking my emails. Not today!

I have a LOT of production work to get done this month. This is supposed to be a good thing. Instead of tackling it one day at a time, today I am worrying about the entire month, which is not helping me at all.

I am afraid, as all artists are, of the blank canvas.

I am four days in to a new journey in yoga and health. I've been going with my husband to an awesome hot yoga studio nearby, and eating good foods and drinking plenty of water. In a few MORE days I am going to feel amazing, but I currently feel grouchy, sore, and like I'm getting the flu. Toxins are moving through me on their way out. This affects my business-self (since hey, I'm the same human in my life and in my work.) I'm a grumpus about the fact that my previous yoga experience didn't have me in tip-top shape to handle this with ease. I feel I've been lazy, and I'm judging myself.

Finally, a part of me is afraid that my dream of owning my own business - and having extra vacation time to spend with family - is going to turn into having a busy schedule like everybody else, and maybe even less vacation time. This fear is not based in reality; so far, I have had more flexibility at the holidays and have been able to write my own calendar within reason. I can become very "busy" before it starts eating into Christmas time. Maybe I'm just resisting growth in general today. Supposedly we are all a little scared of success.

ahhh. I feel better already! Thank you friends, colleagues, clients and even potential clients for the space to be honest. I'm going to go take care of myself with lunch and tea and then I'm going to "kill it" this afternoon. A little illustrating and I'll be back to myself in no time.

If you have any fears today, I want you to know that you are not alone.

Also... it is Friday!


I used to think I could and should do EVERYTHING myself. I would be a renaissance Maya. With my first business (a retail art supply shop) I took control of everything and accomplished... not a lot. I hired people but didn't give them meaningful work to do. I tried to be marketing, marketing communications (even though I didn't know that term yet,) sales, janitorial, IT, purchasing, and everything else. Many things were thus half-assed; pardon my French. There were many wonderful things about the business - but it disproved the Maya-should-do-everything theory. That store is just one example; I bit off more than I could chew in many areas of my life. "Then"... I "saw the light."

For a long time, I thought Shoemaker Medical should stay very narrow in its offerings. Medical illustration already spans several scientific subjects and can vary quite a bit from project to project. This would provide all the excitement I could ever want. I would only sell medical illustration/animation no matter what. This is what I was trained for. This is what I do.

I kept saying things like "stick to what you're an expert at" (not grammar, it would seem) and "I should only sell services that I am realllly good at doing." It was a good sentiment. I didn't want to sell anybody crap or subject my clients to my learning curve while picking up a new skill. OR bite off more that I could chew, again.

I am now realizing that a brilliant middle ground exists, where I can expand my business and at the same time take BETTER care of my clients. I'm just beginning to subcontract others (experts in other vocations,) to take care of needs such as medical writing, social media, and design. This came about when I started listening to what clients were saying, even if they weren't consciously asking me to sell them a new service. I finally realized that my advice to my client - to hire a qualified professional to write something, or to design something, or whatever - was not helpful enough. (Even if the company has hired that type of vendor before, chances are your contact has not personally done it.) I found out that by finding, hiring, and managing a medical writer for one of my clients, I was easing their mind and taking care of something big for them with much less effort. The look of relief on my contact's face was enough to tell me I was doing the right thing.

So far we are wrapping up the first couple of projects using subcontractors and they've been great. My job is to make sure everybody has what they need, the job gets done, and the files go to the right place. Sometimes this makes my life easier too! For example, we're writing copy and I'm doing illustrations related to that copy. Now, I'm in the loop, I have a better understanding of the content faster, and I don't have to spend the time hunting for that copy - I know exactly where it is! Pretty cool.

If a client wants my advice on who to hire without paying me to manage, I still gladly refer them to great vendors; however, if they need my help, I am willing and able to offer that now.

So, is Shoemaker Medical going to turn into an "agency" for Healthcare Communications? I don't know. I don't think so. Am I going to actively market medical writing and web design? I'm not sure. But I know I am personally adding one additional service - project management - and hiring experts to provide real needs as I see them for my clients. Turns out I am good at project management, so the "don't want to sell crap" excuse holds no water. It's a new day for my business, and maybe I'm experiencing a little personal growth too.

If you're interested in learning more about subcontracting for your small business, check out this article on Freelance Switch.

all siblings all the time

You may have noticed that my company, Shoemaker Medical, has been hiring a lot of people lately, and that they are all my relatives. It's true, we've added 6 brothers and sisters to our team of associates - it sounds crazy, but these people are a great fit (in 6 different ways), and we know that because we've known them forever. We are lucky to have super siblings, and we think the world of them. Siblings by Anne RuthmannSo I just wanted to take a moment to introduce you to them as a group and to point you to our team bios page, where you can learn more about each associate individually.

lawsuit against artist group dismissed

Here is a very exciting piece of news - A silly lawsuit against the Illustrators Partnership of America has been dismissed. By silly I mean BAD. The article is a summary of events that have gone on for the past 4 years, culminating in a victory of sorts for creative intellectual property owners (like Shoemaker Medical!)

how to watermark images

The time finally came to put a new watermark on my website images. I thought maybe I should share my technique with you! I don't do any kind of batch processing but I feel like this is very fast while still leaving me in control. I use Photoshop because that's what I'm always using. using Photoshop to watermark multiple=

My little tutorial uses finished .png images, already edited, sized and ready for the web.

Copy (not move) all the .pngs into a new folder where you want the finished watermarked images to live.

Open them all in Photoshop (10-15 at a time, if you have too many).

1. Design the watermark. Here you can see I've made a master psd file (on the right) by renaming one of the correctly-sized images and then adding part of my logo. Keep this watermark on a separate layer. Turn the opacity down if you'd like. (There are all kinds of styles you can apply at this point: embossing, drop shadows, whatever fanciness you have in mind - do it now. I just wanted simple.)

2. shift-drag the watermark layer into your next image* (Shift keeps it aligned.)

3. command e (merge down)

4. command s (save)†

5. command w (close)

6. repeat starting at step 2.

*If you need to move the watermark around you can do that now.

†This is saving a flattened version and the watermark is no longer editable. That's why I copied all my images into a new folder first. I can still go back and get the unmarked ones when I need them.

•For PC users, replace "command" with "control.

This process can go very fast once you get started. (I think writing this blog post took longer.) I wanted mine all to match so I only had to move the watermark on two images. I hope this is helpful! If you have a different procedure you love, leave a comment!

client contact tracking

Clint and I just came up with an awesome system for tracking and recording client info. It's not some fancy software that we bought - Clint built me an Excel spreadsheet with tons of categories for updating things like client status (are they a lead or have we quoted them or signed them?) and how they found us. I had started out by using a typical digital address book but there wasn't room set aside for this kind of important info. I need to be able to "pull a list" based on a variety of factors, such as whether I sent them a brochure, and keep notes on our conversations. I hear that spreadsheets are great until you have 1000 clients and then they can get unruly, but you know what, I will re-evaluate when I have 1000 clients. Meanwhile, this seems like a great way to actually keep track of my customers and not let anybody fall through the cracks. The benefit of a spreadsheet with everything in a separate field, of course, is that I will now be able to sort my data and see how many quotes turned into sales, or how many of my customers found me by accidentally stumbling into my home office on their jog through my neighborhood. marketing contacts excel database for tracking clients

I plan to enter one new lead per day, at the same time I contact them to let them know what we have to offer. This should get me in the habit of actually using the sheet. I know it does no good if the data is only on post-its all over my desk. Don't worry, the data will ALSO be on post-its all over my desk. But I promise to put a lot of info on one piece of paper and recycle them after data-entry!

I will be testing out this new system over the next months and adjusting it til it's just right. Meanwhile, if anybody wants a blank copy to help you brainstorm about your own system, let me know. Next up, we are creating a new Job Log.

Edit: link to the blank file here! MarketingBlank

the news and happenings

Today is the launch of my business, Shoemaker Medical, and that prompts me to tell you the story of how I got here, from a more personal point of view. Lately I have written that it got warm out, I taught some art lessons, left my job and then ta-da!  Had my own business. That last part probably seems very sudden, but of course I couldn't let the world know too much until I was ready to put in my two weeks' notice. So here is the story: I have an entrepreneurial spirit and I've always wanted to work for myself - in fact I've done it before with the art supply store I used to own in Norman and I enjoyed it immensely.  I didn't enjoy the operating-a-retail-store-all-the-time part quite as much, but it was still a great experience.  And now that I am a professional medical illustrator with a little experience under my belt, I want to go off on my own doing what I love doing. I have been planning and scheming with Clint over the past months, and saving my pennies, and working on all the marketing materials and contacts I would need to have a launch.

I've had some great printing help from Jim at Graphics Group, some amazing web design from Danielle, and sweet web development from Jason. Ask me for their info if you need something. It's way better than trying to do it yourself - believe me, you don't have time!

So there wasn't anything terribly wrong with my job at Orthofix. The main reason for leaving is that I want to be in charge of my own destiny and build my own business. (The work was fairly enjoyable. I really like the people and I'm already keeping in touch with many of them. Oh, and that house we bought? 1 mile from Orthofix.) The company has expressed interest in doing contract work with me, and that's awesome, but for now I really need to focus on my new clients and make the transition a clear one in my life.

There is also some measure of stress I'm leaving behind. I'm sure there is new and different stress to come, but I pledge to myself to be more aware of it, lead a more balanced life, and take care of my spirit and my body on a daily basis. Being at home means I can do yoga on my breaks or go out to garden for 5 minutes and this is a big deal for me. I'd love to cook more, exercise more, and breathe more! oh, and maybe be a happy, true version of myself when Clint walks in at 5:30. Is that too much to ask? I think not.

Other side projects I'd like to devote some time to include a huge LEGO© anatomical sculpture show with Clint and Dave, possibly some catalog modeling (what?), and adding webcomics to this blog in a couple of weeks! I'm told my doodles and stick figures are amusing, and if I can brighten somebody's day with a drawing of an eyeball bouncing up the stairs, how can I withhold that? I think I have a name for the new blog+comics but I'm going to wait to tell you.

new location...

Welcome to my blog. Again. I've made a successful move to this new cyber-locale, (!)  I won't be all business here, but have decided that it's still ok to be housed under the umbrella of my new company.  Thanks for visiting!

i work for myself now

Who's out there in cyberspace?  I'm happy to report that I am now my own boss and I have a big announcement coming out Monday, concerning said boss-ness, which I will post here.  I need to get a bunch of people to see it.  So please come back and look, and bring friends!  Thanks my loves. mitochondria

art lessons

I am going to teach some art again this summer!  I've missed it since I closed down my art store, where we did classes, workshops, private lessons and general mess-making.  Time to open up my home and try it out again. Come one, come all!  And please let me know if you have other ideas; I consider this only my first offering.   Summer Programs Schedule

photoshop CS4 shortcuts

Do you need new photoshop CS4 shortcuts? Perhaps Adobe stole your "R" and gave it to Rotate? Here is how you take back control! Photoshop > Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts

Here is access to pretty much everything! If you need to change a shortcut for one of your tools, click on the drop down menu called "Shortcuts For:" and you can pick "Tools" there. If you choose a key command that is already taken, Photoshop will warn you that the other function will no longer have a shortcut... which in my case, was fine and dandy!

I don't have to rotate my canvas a thousand times a day, but smudge and blur I must.


I haven't written much about medical illustration lately, so I thought I would just check in.  I have been very busy at work.  Mostly with very good stuff - interesting projects - but just a lot.  Without giving away any proprietary information, here are some of the things I am working on:Short product animations are being created for monitors we display at our trade show booths.  When finished, they can also be used on the corporate website, in presentations, and on mobile devices.  I storyboard and plan them out with my bosses, and get approval from various product managers to make sure we are showing off the product correctly.  Then I use 3Ds Max, Photoshop, and After Effects to put together a "short clip".  For the volume I can't handle, we have been getting help from David Killpack, an excellent medical illustrator and animator in the Dallas area who builds animations in a similar manner (although I suspect he is faster than me) following our direction and boards.  Dave will also offer feedback and advice if he thinks we need to consider an alternate solution.  It is very nice to have this resource, although of course I am limited in how much I can send out.  At the moment, there are about 10 of these (15-30 seconds each) in various stages of completion, and each one is more urgent than the next, so I am looking forward to getting them finished.Another large project has been doing some 3d illustrations for a couple of operative techniques.  The process is pretty enjoyable - I manipulate the view in 3d and then take still renders for print, which I touch up in Photoshop before handing them over to a designer.  The challenge here is that the product  I am depicting has a million little pieces that I assemble for each shot.  I can't wait to do these for some of our simpler devices!On the illustration front, I have a couple of slick, nicely rendered pieces to do, that will be used for ads and sales sheets.  These are what I most enjoy.  I hope that after the show season finishes (we exhibit a lot from October-March), I will have time to do a lot more of this type of work.  I begin with a sketch, then make a nice pencil drawing to scan in, or alternatively make a 3d still rendering, and then do my painting work in Photoshop.  Sometimes I will blend product photography into the final as well, depending on the desired outcome.Finally, I have some line illustrations on my to-do list.  These are to fill in gaps in an update to an existing operative technique.  They will be satisfying in their simplicity.

images from argosy

I thought I would reminisce tonight and share some work from my last job in Newton, Mass.  While at Argosy, I worked on these pieces for two "coffee-table" anatomy books.  I had a good experience there and remember it fondly!  I will miss the soft-tissue renderings, although I am excited to do the more bony drawings I have coming up.

If you enjoy ultimate frisbee and don't mind a shorter summer (AND you happen to be an animator) you should check out a 3D animation position Argosy has recently posted!

backside of heartimmune responsetonsilitis

“biocommunications multimedia specialist” = me

In February I moved back to Texas with Clint (and of course Ed the cat).   We are now in McKinney, which is a bit north of Dallas, and I work as a medical illustrator at Orthofix.   I’m in the marketing/communications department doing illustrations and animations.  It’s my first time in marketing and my first time with a medical device company too!  The work is fast-paced as always, but a more internally driven kind of fast-paced, and the focus – marketing and documenting the stuff we sell - is different than anything I’ve done before.   My subject matter almost always involves bones, since we make orthopedic, spine, and bone stimulation products.  

McKinney is much more of a fit for Clint and I than Newton, MA was.  The Boston area was fascinating and great to explore, but did not suit our thrifty ways!  Other things we like about Texas are the wide open spaces, warm weather, and friendly people.  And McKinney has a lot of green trees too.   In one year we will be moving again (!) a few miles down the road, because Orthofix is getting a new building.   We’ll try to buy a home in that area.  I never thought I'd be a Texan - and loving it - but I guess I am!