AMI 2023 Recap

Vessel Studios recently journeyed to Lake Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2023 Association of Medical Illustrators annual conference. The annual meeting is a great opportunity to connect with friendships both old and new, and get a glimpse of the latest & greatest in our industry from some of our best artists.

Talks kicked off Thursday morning with a keynote lecture from Temple Grandin, a prominent author on both Autism and animal behavior. A charismatic and engaging speaker, Temple talked about her journey through life and career as a visual thinker. She spoke about the prevalence of visual thinkers in the Autism community, and how their gifts can often make them highly skilled in mechanical trades, engineering, and invention. Temple stressed the importance in fostering new generations of visual thinkers, and the need for the US education system to encourage growth in this remarkable way of thinking.

Next, Marie Sena spoke about her parallel careers in medical illustration and tattooing, and how her journey landed her in a unique position to use her talents as a medical tattoo artist.  Marie currently specializes in tattooing hyper-realistic areolas, helping breast cancer patients feel more comfortable in their own skin post surgery.

The Vessel team, along with fellow colleagues from One World DMG, took a trip to in Las Vegas to see Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart.  An interactive art installation, attendees can quickly immerse themselves in a fictional supermarket that pokes fun at consumerism.  And once you’ve had enough looking at all of the fun & quirky products on the shelves, a few select secret doors will lead you to someplace entirely new…

After spending all that time walking up and down the aisles of the Omega Mart, it was time to venture out and get some actual  food.  Since we were just west of the strip and near Chinatown, we knew exactly which direction to go.  Xia Long Dumplings was able to accommodate our large group immediately, and not long after we sat down, all of the dumplings appeared on our table.  And noodles.  And soups.  No better way to wind down a night with great friends & colleagues than share an amazing meal.   


On Friday, Cameron Slayden gave a great talk about visual triggers that artists can use to draw viewers into their animation or artwork. Cameron explained how our ancestral history and relationship with fire & animals can impact how we react to visual stimuli. A few visual cues that he drew parallels to in 3D animation were material & light qualities like glossiness, subsurface scattering, and contrast. And if you’re not quite ready to captivate your audience with beautiful artwork, he also taught everyone how to hypnotize chickens.

That afternoon Vessel’s own Kelvin gave an amazing demo at the Maxon Cinema 4D booth, where he showcased building an undulating lipid bilayer with an ion channel and ions flowing through it. He showed the process of building phospholipids & a cross section of an ion channel, setting up cloners, and adding effectors, displacers and fields. Cinema 4D is perfect for creating robust biological and cellular systems in 3D, and Kelvin always does an awesome job explaining how to best use these systems in medical animation. Thank you Kelvin!

Friday evening we had a Memorial for Steve Harrison, a great mentor and advocate for students. He always knew what students needed, and it was wonderful to hear memories of Steve from friends, colleagues, and former students.

On the final night, the Vessel team had an amazing dinner at Aburiya Raku. It’s an intimate Japanese grill that serves small plates with flavor as big as the Vegas sphere. Some of our favorites were the Amberjack and Scallop Sashimi, and the tendon and the pork cheek yakitori. The cold green tea soba was also excellent.

Thank you to the AMI for organizing another excellent meeting! Also, a huge thank you to Maxon for always taking the time to come to the AMI and show what’s new and exciting in Cinema 4D. We’re already looking forward to next year…see you soon Rochester, New York!

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