Am I an illustrator or a writer?

Subject: Am I an illustrator or a writer?
From: Sarah Stegall <stegall -at- TERAYON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 13:02:14 -0800

Where do you draw the line between being a
technical writer and a technical *illustrator*?
Increasingly, I am asked to illustrate technical
documentation or web pages with diagrams,
workflows, schematics, or (god help us) product
illustrations. Other times, the "illustrations"
coming out of Engineering have been so god-awful I
had to re-draw them from the ground up. Moreover,
even when I get high quality "illustrations" from
engineers, they are frequently drawn using MS
Word's drawing facility, which is difficult to
save to another file format such as TIFF. All
these activities take a significant amount of my
time, call for skills I'm not trained in (CAD,
drawing, etc.) and require software with a very
steep learning curve (Illustrator or Photoshop,
for example). While I have training on these
systems, this isn't what I was hired to do. I
wonder if employers aren't trying to save the cost
of hiring graphics artists to do their
illustrations by getting tech writers to do it.

Does anyone else on this list confront this issue,
and if so, how do you handle it? At what point
should we stand up and say "Enough! go hire a real
Sarah Stegall || Senior Technical
Terayon Communication Systems ||
stegall -at- terayon -dot- com
2952 Bunker Hill Lane || voice
Santa Clara, CA 95054 || fax 408-727-6204

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