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12 Ways an Artist Can Add Value to Your Health and Nutrition Business

Updated: Jul 28, 2023


Before I get into it, I want to take a minute to define the term “Artist” so we’re all on the same page.


As you know, Dietitians find their own individualized area(s) of practice that they niche themselves into. For example, we have renal dietitians, media dietitians, clinical dietitians, fertility dietitians, geriatric dietitians, sports performance dietitians, research dietitians, dietitian business coaches, intuitive eating dietitians, HAES dietitians, pediatric dietitians, gut health dietitians, culinary dietitians, and the list goes on and on.


The same thing goes for Artists. We have traditional fine artists, painters, sculptors, illustrators, digital artists, performing artists like actors, musicians and dancers, poets, muralists, web designers, filmmakers, writers, product designers, and on and on.


I want to articulate that there are specialities within the arts because I’m using 'Artist' as kind of an umbrella term for many subfields.


And with that, let’s get into it.




Why should a Dietitian collaborate with an Artist?


“I have Canva! Why the hell would I need an artist?”


Solid question, fam.


Here’s the deal. Canva is great, though I’ll admit that as an artist, I was a little snobbish about the idea of signing up for a drag-and-drop type of design software because it felt like “cheating”.


BUT with some reluctance I made a free account and shortly thereafter purchased a paid account.


Canva is an incredibly useful tool that I use every single week.


However, it has its limitations. For one, you don’t always have time to be DIY-ing all of the design projects your nutrition practice demands.


Secondly, unless you’ve studied design or have endless time to spend learning, Canva might not be the end-all-be-all for your 'art department’.



A story about collaboration


I’m going to divert from modern design software now and bring you along on a little journey through time to the mid 1900s.


Linus Pauling, a two-time, unshared Nobel Peace Prize recipient for Chemistry (1954) and Peace (1962) had a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, a PhD in chemistry and mathematical physics, and studied quantum mechanics in Europe. (1)


He was also studying DNA’s structure during the time of Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and many others pursuing an understanding of DNA’s structure at that time. (1)


Based on his education alone you can infer Pauling was a very science-focussed person.


As such, it should be no surprise that Linus Pauling recruited the help of artist, architect, and inventor, Roger Hayward to create illustrations of molecules, atoms, and diagrams for his books and papers. (2)


If you’re not familiar with Roger Haywards illustrations, I highly recommend checking out some of Haywards pastel illustrations on the Special Collections and Archives Research Center and Oregon State University website or borrow a copy of The Architecture of Molecules from your library. (3,4)


That collaborative relationship between a scientist and an artist, is what I love to see.


While I attended Oregon State University, I had the opportunity to flip through some of the letters Pauling and Hayward exchanged about the illustrations.


It takes a special talent to be able to convey things we can't simply take pictures of so, if you're a Sci-Artist, keep doing what you're doing!


As a dietitian and as a scientist, you don’t have to do it all. You may not have all the skills, expertise or time to become an artist and that's okay.


You can recruit, outsource and collaborate to make something better than you could have alone (like using something like Canva…again, no offense to Canva! It’s great, but it doesn’t come with built-in skills and expertise).



Think collaboration. Think synergy.


I think it can be stated in general terms, that scientists seek to understand the unknowns and the 'unseeables' and to share their understanding with others to grow human knowledge.


In order to “see” something unseeable, we have to portray, depict, visualize, or recreate that thing, whether it be using ever-advancing microscopes and cameras, or diagrams, illustrations, animations, and video.


Clearly there’s a natural opportunity for synergy between art and science.


Science communication without visuals can be effective, but when you have a synergy of the two, the effectiveness can be exponential.





How does this apply to dietetics in practice?

In dietetics there are so many biochemical pathways we need to understand, chemical interactions with food and medicines, hormonal effects, and so many more things happening in the bodies of our patients that we can’t see and neither can they.


Many people who come into our offices have very little understanding of how the human body works. That’s no shade on our clients and patients. I mean, hell, we needed 5+ years of schooling to get to our lowest level of understanding.


The issue we face as Dietitians is conveying those complex mechanisms and how they apply to 'Tony B' when they come in for their first pre-diabetes consult, for example.


It’s a challenge to teach, in simplest terms, a basic understanding of what blood sugar is, what insulin does, how food effects them, and provide 'Tony B' with realistic, appropriate, and 'Tony B-specific' recommendations on how they can implement those changes in their day-to-day life.


How many patients and clients keep those handouts you provide them? Have any thrown them out right after you leave the room?


What other ways can you give them information or engage them in a way that they want to continue to learn from you after they’ve left your office?


Why is it they prefer to google, “how much fat should I eat?” and take advice from Influencer Schmuckatelli instead of you, a trained professional?


I encourage you to think about different ways to put your expertise in front of your patients after they’ve left your office, closed the zoom call, or got discharged. What else would engage YOUR audience?




What can an artist do for you & your nutrition business?

You may not have a book on chemistry to illustrate, or significant scientific advancements to portray to the world (or maybe you do, I don’t know you :) ), but you can bring an artist onto your team for a multitude of projects in your business.


They may have a different way of seeing your problem and bring a valuable, creative perspective to the table that could really take whatever project you have, to the next level.


Not only that, but years of knowledge and training as well as access to software that you’d have to spend hours, days, or even weeks researching and learning how to use.


You could get it done yourself, but it could take twice the time (or more) and take you away from other important business tasks.




12 Ways to Use an Artist in Your Nutrition Business

Here's a list of just 12 ways an artist can add value to your health and nutrition business:

  1. Designing an interactive poster or display for your office/waiting room

  2. Nutrition research presentation design (death to walls of text!)

  3. Designing your new dietitian product idea

  4. Thumbnails for your Youtube cooking videos that get people to CLICK

  5. Photography for your recipe website, food products, etc.

  6. Refreshing your nutrition private practice website

  7. Illustrating concepts in research papers

  8. Layout and design for nutrition worksheets, health workbooks, dietetics practice e-newlsletter, or patient handouts

  9. Logo design and branding for your nutrition business

  10. Illustrating your recipe ebook

  11. Patent illustrations for a fitness product

  12. Get creative! Sci-art collaboration possibilities are endless! Work together on an interactive exhibit or gallery show or pop-up shop… The sky is the limit.




Again, can you do all this yourself? Maybe.


Do you really want to? There are only so many minutes in the day…


Consider the value of including a skilled artist on your project team and getting from point A to point B more efficiently and effectively or in a way you never could have imagined doing on your own.




Interested in working with me?


Let's Collaborate!


Send me an email at sara@thekerrminator.com, find me on social media, or use the contact form below. I’d love to discuss your project to see if I’d be a good fit for you!




Are you an Artist-Dietitian? Join the group!


If you’re a sci-artist like myself, particularly one who has studied or is studying Dietetics, I’m hoping to build up my knowledge of who else is interested in traditional and modern forms of art within the field of nutrition and dietetics.


There are a ton of art and design needs out there and it’s helpful to have a pool of people to bounce ideas off of, refer people to if it’s out of my scope, as well as gain inspiration from.


I started a Facebook group called "Artists and Creators in Dietetics" and I’d love if you’d join. It’s brand new so don’t be surprised if it’s like walking into a party early :D Hope to see you there!






References:

(1) Linus Pauling Biography. (2014, May 9). Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/about/linus-pauling-biography


(2) Roger Hayward Papers, 1899-2007. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/findingaids/?p=collections/findingaid&id=2660


(3) Roger Hayward: Renaissance Man—Special Collections & Archives Research Center. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/hayward/pastels/pastels/


(4) The Architecture of Molecules. (2015, July 2). PaulingBlog. https://paulingblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-architecture-of-molecules/



 

About the Author


Sara Kerr, RDN, LD

Sara is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, artist, writer, and video editor. She holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Nutrition from Oregon State University. In 2021 she founded The Kerrminator LLC, which specializes in creative services for Dietitians including video editing, graphic design, and content creation.



 

Are you interested in starting a side hustle and want to learn more about the potential of video for your business?

You should check out my ebook, Embracing Video to Communicate Nutrition. It offers guidance for exploring your options and steps to get the ball rolling on your new venture.

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