Bill Andrews 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

Article by Margot Mackay and Sue Seif

Margot, Bill Andrew and Sue Seif at the awards banquet
Photograph by Ted Kucklick

Bill Andrews 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

We are thrilled to present this year’s Association of Medical Illustrators’ Lifetime Achievement Award to Bill Andrews. There have been few who have done so much for the profession and the association, and this award is long overdue! His artwork is impeccable, but his humanity outshines even that. Bill has been a leader, mentor, teacher, philanthropist, and friend to many within and outside the profession.

Early Beginnings

Born in Chicago on the 4th of July, 1956 into an Air Force family, his father specialized in Aerospace medicine. The oldest of five children, Bill and his siblings lived in many places during their formative years, including California, Texas, Oklahoma, and Hawaii. Hawaii was where Bill’s early scientific interests began to spark, resulting in a group of drawings of Kilauea Volcano’s 1965 eruption– including a view from the top!

He also developed an early interest in cows, winning a prize in grade two for his illustration, “The Story of Milk.” His grandfather worked on the Wabash Railroad and instilled a love of trains in his son and grandson. Bill still loves every minute of a train ride, and takes any possible opportunity to travel on them.

Photoshop additions by Dave Mazierski

A train buff, life Boy Scout, saxophone player and storytelling artist, Bill had many interests. The early interest in cows and longhorn steers paid off, luring him to the University of Texas in Austin. The turning point in his career path came in his sophomore year. He was enrolled in music, with special interest in the saxophone and even played in the Longhorn Stage Band.

His principle instrument instructor told him he did not have what it took to be a real musician and he should change his major! Luckily Bill had always enjoyed drawing but had no formal training.

His parents grew orchids, a legacy from living in Hawaii. Bill drew a series of their award-winning plants and had them made into cards for his mother’s Christmas present. His father was giving a talk on orchids, took the drawings to the medical photographer to have slides made, and the photographer said, “the kid’s got talent.”

His father was giving a talk on orchids, took the drawings to the medical photographer to have slides made, and the photographer said, “the kid’s got talent.” Bill met with the medical illustrator at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls and was introduced to the profession of medical illustration. He changed his major to Studio Art - graduating with honors from the University of Texas in 1978. The rest is history!

He was accepted into the Biomedical Communications program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Under the tutelage of Bill Winn, Lew Calver, Tom Simms and Scott Barrows, he received his MA in 1980.

Bill and his Dallas classmates

After a brief job at the University of Arizona Health Sciences center in Tucson, he was Texas bound yet again…

Who knew that from the early beginnings of saxophones and orchids, our young adventurer would follow the “Yellow Brick Road” back to Texas?

Medical Illustration Career

Bill's first viewing of an original Vesalius - de Humani Corporis Fabrica in Bologna with Giliola Gamberini

We used Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man as a backdrop for the presentation, but we all know Bill as a Vesalius Man. Indeed, a Renaissance Man, a man of many talents and numerous interests.

A superb medical illustrator, fine artist, craftsman, medical art historian, committed volunteer and above all a knowledgeable, generous and caring educator.

As you know, to be an exceptional medical illustrator you must be a strong visual communicator and in order to communicate effectively, you must be able to thoroughly understand and research your topic. Bill is a master of all those abilities. His illustrations are well researched, original in their concept and design, didactic in their delivery, technically well rendered and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Pen and ink piggyback heart transplant by Bill Andrews
Full color rendering of a Piggyback heart transplant by Bill Andrews.

He is equally adept at pen and ink.

Maximizing his competence in the theory of color, Bill developed a unique technique early in his career. The mixed media approach incorporated oil pastels, alkyd oils, Prismacolor pencils, and the all-important Berol Tuscan red Verithin pencil. He applied them onto Canson Mi-Teintes toned paper. His colour palette and technique, strongly influenced by Degas, Monet and other French impressionists, set a new standard as an effective way to present a full colour illustration for projection. It was fondly referred to as the “quick and dirty” technique back in the days of 35 mm slides.

The Story of Milk by Bill Andrews

We all know it a bonus to build on earlier research whenever possible. The award-winning illustration he created at age 7 in grade 2, “The Story of Milk” came in handy for this illustration many years later.

Hemi Artifical Heart Procedure by Bill Andrews.
Minimially Invasive Excision of Lung Tumor by Bill Andrews.

As time went on, he incorporated the same principles of a strong well-researched sketch and a selective color palette or exquisite line work, adapting his technique to the computer.

Speaking of computers, Bill embraced the challenge of technology when it was introduced in the late 80’s and has kept up to date with the ever-changing world of applications.

You will have noticed a considerable number of hearts in our recipient’s portfolio. In the late 1960’s cardiac surgery was flourishing in many centers across North America and around the world, but had a very strong focus in Huston TX. Two cardiac surgeons come to mind, Dr. Michael DeBakey at Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr. Denton Cooley at the combined institutions of St. Luke’s Episcopal and Texas Children’s Hospital and Texas Heart Institute.

In 1981 Bill moved to Houston, Texas where he landed a job as staff illustrator at the combined institutions. There he followed in the footsteps of Tim Hengst, Barbara Hyams and Rusty Jones on Team Cooley.

In the early years of his career, when needing inspiration, Bill ventured down the road to Baylor College of Medicine (probably not telling his future boss). There he was befriended by the Medical Illustration Department, headed by Herb Smith and his talented staff: Perry Sparks Smith, Barry Baker, Tim Phelps, Mike King, Carl Clingman, and Linda Warren.

Tim Phelps acknowledgement:

"Bill and I met in Houston soon after I arrived in 1981. Bill worked with “Team Cooley” and I with “Team DeBakey.” You know we could have been rivals–LOL!

I have always admired Bill’s full color and pen and ink artwork as well as his warm, genuine, and friendly spirit.

We all ate a lot of tasty BBQ and Tex-Mex together in the early 80’s! And Bill was “Uncle Bill” to my daughter Kate. He was tall enough but I could never get him interested in playing basketball!

You know Bill has a marvelous laugh–one I would recognize from across a room.

He certainly can hold and entertain a room with his gentle manner, vast repository of knowledge and an eagerness to educate all of which he has never hesitated to share with each and every one of us in the AMI! Congratulations Bill on this very significant and well-deserved award! How’s ‘bout some cornbread with dem beans Pardner!"

And from Linda Warren:

"I want to share my admiration for an incredible scholar, artist, humorist and gentleman. He is truly a giant among us. I expect everyone is aware of his enormous talent. His artistic skill is inspirational and he has generously shared his illustration process with many, many people in the AMI (as well as at the institution where he teaches–whatever it is called now). I expect we are all better artists because of Bill's influence."

Bill’s unique style flourished and so did his knowledge of heart and vascular anatomy. It soon drew the attention of Dr. Cooley, and Bill became the main illustrator for Cooley and Art Director for the Surgical Associates of Texas in 1983.

This next segment also has to do with the heart. In 1987 Bill’s father was admitted for congestive heart failure to St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital’s, ICU. He was placed on the waiting list for a new heart, but unfortunately it did not arrive in time. On Bill’s many visits to the ICU, he met Vicki Draper, RN and over the next year, the affair d’coeur with Vicki blossomed. They were married in 1990. Vicki is smart, lovely, and a perfect match for Bill.

Dr. Cooley presenting Bill Andrews with an award

Seeking a more diverse view of anatomy and new challenges, Bill accepted the position as Manager of the Medical Graphics Department at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1990. His specific task was to take this 20-person department from the paper-n-pencil era to the digital era and make it profitable. He and his staff were super successful turning the cost-recovery department around–from what had been a budget of $100,000 in the red to $50,000 in the black, after just the one year. 

We all know how demanding certain surgeons can be. Dr. Cooley wanted to produce one more surgical atlas and he wanted Bill to illustrate it. So, Bill left MD Anderson in 1993 and became a full-time private practitioner in his freelance company–Bill Andrews & Associates, Inc., which he had established in 1985.

Bill has over 100 peer-reviewed publications to his credit, and has illustrated more than 60 atlases, books, chapters, and monographs in a variety of medical specialties.

The illustrations he produced during his tenure at the Texas Heart Institute and Surgical Associates of Texas for Dr. Denton Cooley were widely published and have contributed significantly to the body of knowledge of cardiac and cardiovascular anatomy. For his unique contributions to cardiac surgery as a medical artist, Bill was recognized as an Honorary Member of the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society.

Bill was presented with a bronze replica of the red granite sculpture, which stands outside Texas Heart Institute. It is a 3D replica of the THI logo that Bill designed for the institute.

Interesting history note: Dr. DeBakey, age 98 and Cooley age 87, finally buried the hatchet in 2007. The two warmly shook hands and DeBakey was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Society.


Interspersed with and in addition to his busy career, Bill became a professional member of the AMI in 1981. He began his commitment to the organization even before becoming a member, presenting a workshop at an annual meeting. Over the years he has presented, numerous lectures and workshops covering a wide variety of topics.

He quickly became a strong contender in the annual salon, winning many coveted awards: 3 consecutive years of Russell Drake Awards for medical line, 3 Best Illustrated Medical Book awards, Will Shepard Award for medical color and the Ralph Sweet Award and Best of Show. Not only excelling in the salon, he quickly stepped up to the plate to volunteer on a variety of committees. He was recognized by his peers as a mover and a shaker and a man with progressive ideas. Often, he was persuaded to join a committee where he was presented with new challenges.

In 1985 he was commandeered by Bill Westwood to take over the editorship of the AMI Newsletter. Two goals where set–one to boost the readership and two to convert it to digital production. Bill accomplished both the challenges with flying colors.

His editing expertise, needless to say, led him to be on the AMI Journal and Source Book editing review committees.

Bill also published two editions of his own book, “Medicine Is Not Pretty,” based on his experiences in the Texas Medical Center–a collection of weekly cartoons depicting the goings-on at the fictional Manubrium Heights Memorial Hospital.

He served two terms on the Board of Governors. While on the Board, he was asked by Don Biggerstaff to chair an ad hoc Foundation Committee, which would study the feasibility of creating an educational foundation for the AMI. In 1988, the Vesalius Trust was established and Bill became their founding President.

The Vesalius Trust is celebrating its 30th anniversary. It is a 501c3 corporation, which raises funds for scholarships, grants, and research projects. Since its inception in 1988, it has awarded over 350 student scholarships and grants totaling $425,000, and supported 48 professional continuing education events totaling more than $250,000. The monies are raised from donations and the annual auction.

Bill Andrews and Teri McDermott at the Vesalius Auction

The Lloyd Library and Museum and the Trust have collaborated on a collection of medical illustrations, designed to preserve our heritage. It also organizes the educational Art and Anatomy trips to Europe–the eighth coming up this September!

By 1989 he had earned enough volunteering points to be inducted as a Fellow of Association of Medical Illustrators and in 1995 he received the Outstanding Service Award, not only recognizing his generous years of devoted committee work but also for his insight in the formation of the Vesalius Trust.

In Bill’s AMI Presidential address in 2002 in Austin TX, he gave an eloquent history of visual communication, focusing on the evolution of Medical Illustration. He asked, “Why are we still here?”

Halfway through his dissertation he gave a recap citing Vesalius’s career (not unlike his own): Vesalius trained as an artist, studied medicine, dealt with plagiarism, became an entrepreneur, conceived a better method of storytelling, and used technology to publish his own work. As Bill continued through the ages to modern day, we were all convinced that although some names have changed, the game is still the same and the basic principles remain. Still true today!


After the publication of Dr. Cooley’s book, Bill happily ran a successful freelance practice for several years, until Steve Harrison approached him at the 50th AMI anniversary meeting in Phoenix, inviting him and strongly persuading him to join the faculty at the Medical College of Georgia.

Bill succumbed to Steve’s relentless hounding and finally moved to Augusta in 1999 to join the faculty at the Department of Medical Illustration, School of Allied Health Sciences, Medical College of Georgia now Augusta University.

He entered with the rank of Assistant Professor and rose progressively through the academic ranks to full Professor with tenure in 2012.

In 2000 he became Director of The David J. Mascaro Teaching Gallery of Medical Illustration, named in honor of his colleague, mentor, and close friend. In his curatorial position he is responsible for looking after an impressive collection of over 300 original medical illustrations.

He has served in various capacities as Program Director, Chair and Interim Chair, and other University positions. Beginning August 1, Bill will again resume the position of Chair of the Department of Medical Illustration, College of Allied Health, Georgia University.

His teaching responsibilities have evolved over time, teaching traditional techniques, and now electronic media and multimedia courses, as applied to a variety of topics including anatomy and surgical illustration. A true professional, especially when it comes to business, he developed a rigorous business practice course preparing his students for life beyond university.

Ever humble–he often says,

In 2009, he was the youngest educator to win the AMI Brödel Award for Excellence in Education.

Jen Darcy:

"When Sue asked me to write something about Bill, I found it very difficult to put into words how much such a talented, inspiring, caring, and special person means to me.

I graduated from the Georgia program in 2004 and had the pleasure of having Bill as one of my professors. To this day, I still use the artistic and illustrative techniques as well as the business knowledge that Bill taught us. Bill is definitely one of the main reasons the Georgia program has always felt like and continues to feel like family to me.

Without hesitation, I’ve always known that if I needed help with something, no matter how busy he is, Bill has bent over backwards to make the time to talk to me and give me his priceless advice, help, opinions, and friendship. He genuinely wants all of his current and former students, like myself, to succeed.

Simply put: I love Bill. He is such an AMAZING artist, illustrator, professor, colleague, and person.

Bill, thank you for everything you’ve done and continued to do for your students and the AMI. You are irreplaceable and I feel incredibly grateful and fortunate to call you my colleague and friend."

For his university, departmental and educational contributions he has been honored with faculty and distinguished education awards from his university, recently receiving a Governor’s Teaching Fellowship In addition to his directorial, coordinating, and teaching responsibilities he has been invited as a guest lecturer and visiting professor in all the major medical illustration teaching programs in North America and Europe.

He currently is completing a Doctoral Degree in Health Promotion, Education & Behavior at the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

Unbelievably, he still manages to find time to travel and do the things that keep Bill happy.

What makes Bill happy, besides Vicki by his side?

Bill loves to travel and learn new things. He and Vicki are wonderful traveling companions and have been on all 7 (soon to be 8) Vesalius Trust Art and Anatomy European tours.

He is never without his camera or sketchbook, always looking for new subject material and interesting angles. Often incorporating his images into his fine art pieces.

Oh, I cannot forget his love of good food and libation, two of Bills favorite pastimes. An excellent cook, he and Vicki are the most gracious, quintessential hosts.

Maya Angelou hit it on the head: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

We will never forget what he said and did, but his humanity will shine in our lives forever!

Congratulations Bill!

Please rise and give a hearty round of applause to our King of Hearts!