Matthew Bohan

I’m Matthew Bohan, a freelance medical illustrator, wildlife artist and photographer.

I have had a lifelong interest in animals and art, which is what led me to get an MS in Biology and an MFA in Medical and Biological Illustration. Four of my wildlife paintings are in the University of Michigan’s permanent collection. Others have been displayed in the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American WatercolorsWatercolor U.S.A. 2000 and the Colorado Bird Observatory’s Annual Songbird Show.

An article on my watercolor technique has been featured in American Artist magazine, and my paintings and photographs have appeared in Wildlife Art MagazineWild Earth JournalBirder’s WorldLighthouse Digest and The Nature Conservancy’s national magazine. My medical illustrations and animations have appeared in print, video, websites and award-winning CD-ROMs.

In addition to teaching college-level biology, I’ve instructed several community education classes on advanced watercolor.

Medical Illustration?

Yes, it really is a profession. Honest. Medical illustrators do all sorts of work. Over the years I’ve done a lot of anatomical, surgical, pharmaceutical and molecular biology subjects for print, video and web delivery. We medical illustrators spend our days making art out of some pretty repulsive things… well repulsive to some. It can be hard to find the beauty in a polycystic kidney, but somebody has to do it!

The work can be exciting, like when visually explaining a new surgical approach to a problem or animating a new drug’s action on a molecular level. At other times it might be a little less thrilling, such as when drawing a cross section of skin with acne. In that case the trick is to show things in a new and clear way.

As a freelancer I find myself wearing many hats and spending a lot of time creating non-medical art, doing graphic design, painting and photography.

I’ve been painting wildlife since I was a kid, and while it isn’t a major source of income, it is a major source of fun and fascination. I spend a lot of time in nature with my family, usually with a camera handy. Birds are obviously a passion. I especially like painting unusual birds and overlooked animals. While I realize that most people don’t want to run out and buy a painting of a leaf hopper or jumping spider, I think there is something beautiful about them. Many people are surprised when they find out that these creatures are living right in our area.

Philosophy (Yawn)

I think the thing that sets apart great illustration and animation is that it first and foremost must teach well. Art that is visually pleasing is often a byproduct of understanding the subject well and presenting information clearly. At times that is straightforward, and other times it requires an incredible amount of work to distill everything into a single image or animation. A really successful piece is one that answers the all of the viewer’s questions while being beautiful as well. Some biological and anatomical subjects are naturally appealing, but with others you really have to look for the beauty. I’ve found some visually fascinating things (at least to me) in unusual places like kidneys and molecular models. Maybe after looking at some of my artwork you’ll agree?

Thank you for visiting!

Matt Bohan
Lansing, Michigan