David Macaulay, The Way We Work

I want to talk a bit about process. I’m not just explaining what I’ve learned about the body but how I went about discovering it. I realized at the age of 54 or 55 that I knew nothing about my body or the way it worked. I have young kids and they wear me out, I ache more, and I wantedto know more about why and what it looked like in there.

When I started out from zero, it was a pretty steep learning curve, gathered the books and DVDs and videos, dissections, but still after sketching had some leftover organs. I bought a skeleton, statred to try and understand the backbone a little bit, this magnificant column. The parts of each vertabae, nice place to attach all those tendons and ligaments. The discs, are very squishy in the middle and firm on the outside. Also trying to think of ways to present this information to everybody else after I’ve learned enough. Wanted to find a good way to explain the heart. Made something that looked like something you could make from Ace Hardware. [Shows picture of three digestive systems at happy hour.]

I would come back at the end of the day either in the hospital or with medical student and try to make drawings to see if I really was getting a sense of what was happening inside. Photographers don’t have the luxury of ignoring gravity, illustrators do. Another way to lay this out I thought about was to create a campus, a sort of world’s fair of the body. It’s really as story about cells, and I didn’t realize that when I started. I was trying to draw a double-helix in a way it’d never been drawn before, a pretty useless exercise since it’s been drawn in every conceivable way.

Whenever I got despondent about this book being too much for me I’d discover something like the eye and how the cells bend and stretch in the lens. [He’s now going all the way through cells, RNA, DNA replication, the nervous system, a fast-paced serious of illustrations. This is one to wait for the video for!]

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