RE: Should writers develop their own illustrations?

Subject: RE: Should writers develop their own illustrations?
From: "DeGuzman, Kathi" <Kathi -dot- Deguzman -at- Nextel -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 14:13:16 -0500

Ward posed the following question:
Is a writer who cannot develop graphic content lacking an essential

I have been a tech writer for over 10 years and have mixed feelings about
whether "graphic content development" is an essential skill for writers.
I admit that I have written manuals where I used illustrations to clarify
information, showing how data moves in and out of a system, or something
along those lines. I have been able to use clip art, and other tools to
create these graphics. So, yes I have the ability to create the graphics. My
problem is that I don't have the "creativity" needed to think up a Great

For example, I once worked for a small satellite imaging company where I was
the only writer. The president of the company assumed that since I was a
writer, I could also do the artwork for the CD production. Well sure, I
could do it. It did not take that long either, once I had the correct tools.
I made a picture of the earth and a satellite, with a beam going to and from
the satellite down to earth. It was the best I could think of at the time.
Well, needless to say, the guy did not like the picture I came up with. I
ended up having to say to him, hey I don't have any graphic artist training
nor am I an illustrative artist. I can do the basics, but that is all. If
you want something more creative and dramatic, hire a professional artist --
not a writer."
(Don't worry, I was more polite than that.)

I think that although most of us are able to do some illustrating, there is
a time when it is probably a good idea to leave it to those who are
professionals at it. I have been able to go to a graphic artist and say "I
want a picture that shows blah, blah." And guess what? The artist was able
to come up with several ideas from which I got to pick which would work best
for my audience.

So, in short, my long winded answer becomes ...I do not think that the skill
is essential, as long as we are able to communicate with someone who does
have the skill.

Kathi Jan DeGuzman
Senior Technical Writer
Kathi -dot- Deguzman -at- nextel -dot- com <mailto:Kathi -dot- Deguzman -at- nextel -dot- com>
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged
--James Klass

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