We had the good fortune of connecting with James Archer and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi James, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Years ago, I worked in a research and development position, one that offered amazing benefits, a great salary and with little to no chance of ever being laid off. Jackpot, right? There was just one problem. I am not very good at research. 🙂 Two problems, really. Deep down inside, I always wanted to be an artist. And while I have never truly thought of myself as an artist, I am grateful for my gifts as an illustrator.

So, with the security of my 9-to-5 research position, and the support of my wife, Jennifer, I embarked on a career as a freelance medical illustrator. And like so many medical illustrators before me, I secured a domain name, built a website, purchased a page in the Medical Illustration Sourcebook and started taking calls.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a member of a small community of artists and illustrators who call themselves, “medical illustrators”. There are not many of us around. The Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) estimates that there are as few as 2,000 practicing medical illustrators in North America.

I studied to become a medical illustrator while living in Denton, TX back in the early 90’s. The Old 97’s had just released their first studio album, Hitchhike to Rhome. Adobe Photoshop was in version 3. And my graphics software of choice, 3D Studio, ran on DOS. It was a time of transition – I was leaving behind pigments and graphite in exchange for something new, pixels.

Early in my career I became obsessed with creating photographic imagery using Autodesk 3ds max, a 3D computer graphics program. The trick is to make the program “behave” like a real-world camera. And so that’s what I did, I created images that had the appearance of photographs. And initially, I believe that is what set me apart in a field of extremely talented individuals.

While some would point to my body of work as testament to my success as an illustrator, I would argue that it is my approach to serving others that is most noteworthy. I have never turned away a client for any reason, including budget. I have never set a limit on the number of revisions. I routinely work weekends. And always, I treat my clients with kindness and respect. Remember, like you, your clients may be under extreme pressures. Try your best to make their jobs (their lives) easier.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have always been a sucker for small towns across Georgia. While Roswell isn’t exactly small, it certainly has a lot of small-town charm. There are several great places to eat, drink and hang out. And for me, Roswell is just minutes down the road.

But if I had a weeklong trip to plan, I would consider driving about 90 miles north to Blue Ridge. I would turn the visit into an adventure trip! A trip with hiking, fishing, kayaking, and mountain biking. Blue Ridge has great dining, bars, and coffee shops. And the people are amazing.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout goes to my wife, Jennifer! Jennifer has supported me every step of the way. During my two years at UT Southwestern, Medical Center at Dallas, Jennifer took a job at Children’s Medical Center as a Respiratory Therapist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Through her hard work and long hours at Children’s, we were able to leave UT Southwestern without a single student loan.

And I am sure that being married to a freelance illustrator is not always easy. Freelance illustration is not a team sport. It is not something that Jennifer and I can work on together. But despite the long days and the occasional sleepless night, Jennifer understands the sacrifices that I am making. Everything I do, I do for her and our two kids.

Website: anatomyblue.com

Twitter: @anatomyblue

Image Credits
Family photos: Carly Laine Photography

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